Sunday, October 31, 2010

“The End of Social Housing 1945-2010”

Picture is from the front page of Friday’s “Inside Housing” magazine.  Its grim conclusion is that the ConDems have decided to end Social Housing. 
To be clear this is about the ending of a key plank of the welfare state, it is about the end of all Social Housing whether provided by Councils or Housing Associations. I don’t think that people generally have “got this” yet. 
Quite rightly they have been distracted at the plans to “Kosovo” style cleanse the poor out of middle class Britain.
For much of the 20th century, all British governments, Labour and Tory, provided direct financial support to build social housing for working people, the elderly and the vulnerable.  This government has decided that it will not be doing so any more.
There is some money set aside for existing commitments but once this is spent any new homes for rent will only be allowed to be built if they charge tenants 80% of market rents.  They also will lose their security of tenure.  What this will mean according to Inside Housing is that an average working family of three will pay £140 more per week (note per week) than they would currently.  This is not social housing anymore.
Ordinary working families will not be able to afford to live in such “housing” and will seek cheaper and smaller housing in privately owned slums and ghettos. 
Unemployed tenants will fall into arrears due to housing benefit cuts and will face eviction; they will be held to be “intentionally homeless” and be forced to move into privately owned slums and ghettos. 
Ironically the foundation of the Welfare State was laid by Liberal, William Beveridge.  One of the “5 Giants” it was created to tackle was “squalor”.  We are about to turn full circle.
Does anyone in this government “get it” either? 


Anonymous said...

How can you defend someone living in Westminister on Housing Benefit at £500 per week?

I live in Newham because it is affordable. I have never relied on welfare. I am angry that taxpayers like me are paying for people to live posh Westminister. Most Londoners on average salaries would struggle to live there. So I have no problem if these HB claimaints are re-located to Newham.

If your Westminister rent in £500, you will need to find a high salaried job to cover that rent (e.g 45k job). So I agree that it is a disincentive to find a job.

Newham Council should get more cash to deal with these new re-located people. Certainly, Westminister should have its funding cut, it has the lower council tax.

However, the government is wrong to cut Housing Benefit, if people don't find work within a year. This is particularly dangerous in this economic climate and could lead people to crime to make ends meet.

Also, new reules mean single people under 35 have to live in shared accomodation, in principle I have no objection to this, as many young working Londoners get a flat mate to keep costs down.

We have come to this, because the gap between rich and poor has widened under Labour. The people at the top have seen their salaries shoot up with no restraint, whilst those middle incomes see our salaries go up slowly. But this all happened under Labour!

Bill said...


a rabbit hutch in Westminster is as big and pleasant as a rabbit hutch in Newham - and there are some pretty shabby bits of City of Westminster. Some people have lived there all their lives, and the only reason the value of their house might have risen is because a nmillionaires mansion was built next door.

Also, inner cities need people to do basic work, work it would be uneconomical to commute for (or should we really put more strain on the transport system)?

John Gray said...

Hi anon
Only a very, very small number of families ever claimed £500 per week. Most people who will now have to move their homes will be paying far less. But they will now have to move across London, they might have lived in Westminster’s for generations and will now have to take their children out of schools.

Why can't we have rent controls?

These people tend to live in pretty grotty accommodation in any case.

Anon what on earth makes you think that Newham will get more cash?

I'm glad that you agree with me that the last Labour Government was not sufficiently socialist enough (comrade).

Compared to this awful, awful government it was of course blissful.

Unknown said...

I lived in SW1 for five years in a crumbling,damp,dwelling owned by a very prominent person.To get anything done in the way of repairs I had to call in the public health inspector.then they sent a workman to sit on the roof for a couple of hours with a putty knife and then I'd have to wait till it rained again and do it all over again.
When My Job moved me to a new town the place was gutted and done up and a tv directer moved into it.
I wonder if any working class are still in that street that had been working class for over 100 years.
the same seems to be happening in the new towns now as the old folk die who bought their house off maggie their desendants sell them and better off middle class people with money are grabbing them and its pushing the working class out.

John Gray said...

Hi John

Yours is a depressing story. The more I think about these things the more I feel that we have to reintroduce rent controls and security of tenure for private (and now public) tenants. Germany apparently has the same decent set of rights for both tenures.

Also an european style Land tax to replace Council tax and keep a lid on house prices.