Sunday, 25 May 2014

Radical proposals on rents needed if young are to be persuaded

  Jeremy Corbyn is absolutely right when he writes in the Morning Star that Miliband`s "proposals provide some degree of security and a step in the right direction regarding the behaviour of the letting agents" but he is also correct in criticising the Labour leader for being too cautious. ("Housing:A modest proposal, 08/05/14)
       John Phillips of the GMB was right to say at the Wales TUC conference that Thatcher`s "sell-off of a million council houses still hurts today", and that private landlords are the "real beneficiaries of Britain`s welfare system" (Morning Star,23/05/14)  Not only are they charging extortionate rents for property that is often sub-standard, they are bleeding the taxpayers dry! Housing benefits going to these modern-day Rachmanns have risen by a massive 51% since 2008.
     Also, tax avoidance is rife in the private rental sector; one tax evading landlord managed to deprive the Treasury of £84,000, yet recently only received a suspended one year sentence! HMRC may be exaggerating slightly when claiming such tax avoiders "are playing a high risk game", when the punishment is so meagre. Similarly, as a think tank regards BTL as meaning "Big Tax Let-off", (as opposed to Buy To Let) with "tax breaks for private landlords" adding up to £5bn a year, wouldn`t one expect the opposition to be targetting this for its first post-election budget? As most young people rent their homes from private landlords, and as Labour could have a landslide victory if it could persuade them to vote for them, now is hardly the time to present "modest" proposals to the electorate. In fact it`s downright silly, especially as nearly all students have experienced exploitation at first hand from private landlords! A cap at today`s levels is still not going to enable young people to save for a deposit for their own so-called "affordable" home!

    It`s not just in London, where exhorbitant rents are being pocketed by greedy landlords, and where these high rents are subsidised by housing benefit, and Labour would be ignoring an electoral boost if it were not to pledge "a cap on rent". It should be considering, also, a return to 2010 rent levels,whilst an Ofsted-style inspection team is set up to ensure properties are well-maintained, equipped with safety alarms and such like. If the Tory response to modest proposals is to accuse Labour of "Venezuela-style rent controls", Miliband may as well be radical, and get the job done. What is the point of being a Labour PM if all you`re going to do is tinker, when transformation is required?

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