Thursday, 24 October 2013

Labour and housing, 09/08/13

Your recent, excellent editorial on housing (MStar,09/08/13) stressed the need for Labour to commit itself to provide social housing, and rightly criticised the recently acquired 40,000 mortgages for the buy-to-rent brigade. The latter will mean, not only profit to private landlords and the continuance of high rents for people mostly ill-equipped to pay them, and, of course, more taxpayers` money in the form of housing subsidies going straight to profiteers` pockets, but also yet more government money going to the banks. Until we have a clear commitment from Labour to the providing of more social housing, more taxation like the Tobin tax, and continued public ownership of RBS and the East coast railwayline, the country will continue to be run for the benefit of the banks, their highly paid employeees, and their shareholders. There has to be a period of re-equalisation, where the gap between rich and poor is reduced, or the result will inevitably be a form of "economic apartheid"; living wages have to be the norm, so that the profit-making corporations actually pay for their labour and don`t have them subsidised by the British taxpayers, which, hardly surprisingly, rarely includes them.
      Instead of offering it to the banks, the cheap money governments can currently get their hands on could be offered to local councils directly, in the form of long-term, minimum or no interest, mortgages, with the strict proviso that heavy penalties would be incurred for breaking any assurances given; the money would only be available on a ring-fenced basis, after the councils had detailed how and where it would be spent, how many homes would be provided, and assurances that no "green" areas developed or sold. The lower rents charged for such social housing would undercut the exploitative private landlords, forcing them to reduce their rent, and also make the buy-to-let industry less profitable.

    The current government found £375 billion for the banks, with no significant improvement; the creation of at least one million council-owned homes seems cheap at the price!

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