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The Money Isn't Going To The Tenants, It's Going To The Landlords

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http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/sunderland-need-di-canio-like-a-hole-in-the-head-8561876.html

Thatcher’s bitter housing legacy

Amid all this talk of welfare caps on families claiming tens of thousands in housing benefit, one simple point is never made. This situation has to a large extent arisen from the sale of council houses. The money isn’t going to the tenants. It’s going to their landlords.

Worse than that, many of the homes in central London for which landlords are demanding extortionate rents are ex-local authority properties. These are people who took advantage of Mrs Thatcher’s generous discounts to buy their home, moved to, say, Spain, and who are in some cases renting their former home back to the very same council at rents up to 10 times what they used to pay.

Others took the money and ran. An ex-local authority home in inner London costs about £300,000, and you won’t find many ordinary folk living in them. To crown all, the present Government, even as it laments the extortionate rents, has just upped the discount available for local authority tenants who buy their homes, which can only lead to greater shortages and even more profiteering.

Wherever you look – be it the social housing shortage, the banking crisis or the numbers on disability benefit – the bills are still coming in for the Thatcher decade. Beats me why Her Majesty’s Opposition isn’t making more of this.

Indisputably correct.

Whethere it's council houses, deregulating the banksters, privatising the energy and water companies, the railways etc etc

Even the doubling of household debt under Lawson.

One might suppose they'd learn from their errors, instead Osborne is repeating them.

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And a lot of those ex-council houses will have been loaded with debt to fund the move abroad, to the point they're in negative equity. Therefore the money is going to NRK AM.

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http://www.independe...ad-8561876.html

Indisputably correct.

Whethere it's council houses, deregulating the banksters, privatising the energy and water companies, the railways etc etc

Even the doubling of household debt under Lawson.

One might suppose they'd learn from their errors, instead Osborne is repeating them.

Of course, it is the ex council properties landlords (who bought their council properties on the Right to buy scheme) that are guilty of extortionate house prices and extortinate rents in "Central London".

Actually, it is them (together with people of benefits) that caused this artificially created economic crisis.

Finally we have identified the guilty ones who "profited" from all this.

Hang' em high!

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I never understood the "right" to buy.

It was really the same as the "right" to a pension....like the Post Office one....sold to Government, who, now has cash, but needs another pension to sell next year....

meanwhile, there are still pensioners to be paid, like there are deserving Council tenants on the waiting lists.

Right to buy was simply a funding for deficit exercise.

One of Maggies mistakes....just shows how the vote was as important to her thinking as it was to the current crop of *****ers.

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I never understood the "right" to buy.

I have an idea it was more social than economic. Council tenants had become ever more notorious for neglecting and trashing their places, and maintenance costs were often higher than rents. That is, if maintenance to the minimum standards (like, a loo you can flush without it all coming back up) took place at all. A vicious circle: if the estate is like that, why bother? People who bought were motivated to do better, and indeed many of them did, so that now many ex-council places are good homes (especially where councils were the only developers who could afford to 'waste' land giving 3-bed semis a decent area of green around rather than build more houses).

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I have an idea it was more social than economic. Council tenants had become ever more notorious for neglecting and trashing their places, and maintenance costs were often higher than rents. That is, if maintenance to the minimum standards (like, a loo you can flush without it all coming back up) took place at all. A vicious circle: if the estate is like that, why bother? People who bought were motivated to do better, and indeed many of them did, so that now many ex-council places are good homes (especially where councils were the only developers who could afford to 'waste' land giving 3-bed semis a decent area of green around rather than build more houses).

a laudible goal indeed.

Now, why didnt they build one for every one they sold?

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Nothing wrong with Right To Buy. The money should have been used to replenish the social housing stock, rather than being trousered.

And the huge inflation in house prices, especially London has not been deliberately engineered by social tenants, so they could make a quick buck!

And in order to get the maximum discounts, a tenant would have had to have paid at least five years of rent, which of course is now above inflation dictat, also the potential RTB purchaser has to be mortgageable and therefore working.

Right To Buy should also be extended..... to private tenants. B)

Edited by Secure Tenant

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There's absolutely nothing wrong with right to buy, at least not in isolation. It released a lot of housing onto the market at cheap rates.

The problem is the right to buy resource is pretty much empty now, so that source of cheap housing is over. Meanwhile, restrictive planning laws havn't allowed any more building.

They should have had right to buy, yes, but they also should have tossed most of the planning laws onto the bonfire as well.

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Wherever you look – be it the social housing shortage, the banking crisis or the numbers on disability benefit – the bills are still coming in for the Thatcher decade. Beats me why Her Majesty's Opposition isn't making more of this.

FFS, it's almost as if champagne socialists have some form of amnesia which lasted from 1997 to 2010 and have forgotten they were actually in power for 3 terms with large majorities! 13 years and they could have done whatever they wanted but no, let's still blame a prime minister who was in power for 11 years from 1979 to 1990. What's the equivalent of Godwin's Law when it comes to Thatcher?

Edited by mikthe20

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A lot of people highlighting how there was nothing wrong with right to buy had it been done differently.

Well yes, but it wasn't.

The money raised should have been used to replace the sold housing stock or reform planning laws (which would have been easier for NIMBYs to swallow if the state itself was building a lot of new housing at a time it was selling the old stock).

Sadly the real result was short term tax cuts to bribe boomers to vote Tory.

Labour bribed the boomers their way in 97 with a BTL free money explosion, and it's been a tug of war boomer bribe fest ever since.

Edited by byron78

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FFS, it's almost as if champagne socialists have some form of amnesia which lasted from 1997 to 2010 and have forgotten they were actually in power for 3 terms with large majorities! 13 years and they could have done whatever they wanted but no, let's still blame a prime minister who was in power for 11 years from 1979 to 1990. What's the equivalent of Godwin's Law when it comes to Thatcher?

Especially as Right To Buy existed before Thatcher! It might not have been called that then, but it was certainly possible to buy council houses before 1979 as my grandma bought here "corporation house."

Indeed right to acquire council property was part of Labours manifesto in .....1959! :lol:

7000 Council houses were sold in 1970.

It was Horace Cutler at the GLC in 1977, adapting a more free market approach which probably influenced Thatcher and the direction of Council House sales.

Edited by Secure Tenant

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I seem to remember councils bleating a fair bit about the money raised from 'right-to-buy' being ringfenced and they couldn't use it.

This is true.

One of the worst things Thatcher did - selling off council houses; selling off the utilities is a close second. Much of our 'housing problem' goes back to this. It was a blue touch paper moment for short-term electoral gain. Note that no party since has done anything to fix this. The housing bubble since became the UK economy.

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Especially as Right To Buy existed before Thatcher! It might not have been called that then, but it was certainly possible to buy council houses before 1979 as my grandma bought here "corporation house."

Indeed right to acquire council property was part of Labours manifesto in .....1959! :lol:

Superb, didn't know that!

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I have an idea it was more social than economic. Council tenants had become ever more notorious for neglecting and trashing their places, and maintenance costs were often higher than rents. That is, if maintenance to the minimum standards (like, a loo you can flush without it all coming back up) took place at all. A vicious circle: if the estate is like that, why bother? People who bought were motivated to do better, and indeed many of them did, so that now many ex-council places are good homes (especially where councils were the only developers who could afford to 'waste' land giving 3-bed semis a decent area of green around rather than build more houses).

Right to buy was good in many ways.....council tenants took on the responsibility of buying and maintaining the homes they lived and rented for many years......what is not so good is these homes were not replaced, also you will find there are tenants that bought at a discount moved out and purchased another home to live in in a more private area then rented the home on long-term secured rent basis back to the councils for very large sums used to pay the mortgage on the new place..... ;)

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FFS, it's almost as if champagne socialists have some form of amnesia which lasted from 1997 to 2010 and have forgotten they were actually in power for 3 terms with large majorities! 13 years and they could have done whatever they wanted but no, let's still blame a prime minister who was in power for 11 years from 1979 to 1990. What's the equivalent of Godwin's Law when it comes to Thatcher?

+1

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FFS, it's almost as if champagne socialists have some form of amnesia which lasted from 1997 to 2010 and have forgotten they were actually in power for 3 terms with large majorities! 13 years and they could have done whatever they wanted but no, let's still blame a prime minister who was in power for 11 years from 1979 to 1990. What's the equivalent of Godwin's Law when it comes to Thatcher?

Fair point.

Be nice to back it up with some actual statistics mind.

Anyone know how many council/housing association houses were built and sold under Thatcher, and what the equivalent buying/selling of state housing stock was under Blue Labour?

I'm guessing Maggie sold more than she built, and Blue Labour built more overpriced boxes than they sold but I don't know the figures so I'm also just speculating.

Edit: it would appear the reason people still blame Thatcher for selling off all the council housing stock and not replacing it is because this is pretty much historically accurate. Why don't Tories/Labour supporters ever hold their own party accountable for mistakes, instead of the standard "blame the other lot" spin. They're both perfectly capable of being useless and often are. This IMHO is one of the root causes of HPI in the UK and why the housing benefit bill has been soaring ever since.

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right_to_Buy#section_2

Edited by byron78

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I never understood the "right" to buy.

It was really the same as the "right" to a pension....like the Post Office one....sold to Government, who, now has cash, but needs another pension to sell next year....

meanwhile, there are still pensioners to be paid, like there are deserving Council tenants on the waiting lists.

Right to buy was simply a funding for deficit exercise.

One of Maggies mistakes....just shows how the vote was as important to her thinking as it was to the current crop of *****ers.

I've been posting this for years under severe flack from bought and sold Thatcherites who profited off backs of others

- Now it is mainstream

Thatcher & her 'Cons' created the biggest population political bribe in History with right to buy and Utility sell-offs which millions are now suffering for.

That is what got them re-elected

- stoopid carpet baggers voting for them and their country's complete stitch up by bankers

Most council housing had been bought and paid for by generations of council tennants for decades - it was a mere account swapping exercise from dept to dept minus upkeep costs. Now the taxpayer cash is hoovered up by the bankers/foreigners whose interest is to keep prices as high as possible

Edited by erranta

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FFS, it's almost as if champagne socialists have some form of amnesia which lasted from 1997 to 2010 and have forgotten they were actually in power for 3 terms with large majorities! 13 years and they could have done whatever they wanted but no, let's still blame a prime minister who was in power for 11 years from 1979 to 1990. What's the equivalent of Godwin's Law when it comes to Thatcher?

Hope you are not as bent and hateful as they are to the population

(Jewish Tesco name appearing in kicking the poor yet again too!!)

Dumping the poor

WESTMINSTER City Council, the Tory flagship condemned last week for 'improper and disgraceful gerrymandering', is still trying to push the poor and the homeless out of central London. Confidential documents, seen by the Independent on Sunday, reveal that despite the public outrage about the affair Westminster is currently using its contacts at the highest levels of the Conservative Party in an attempt to remove the homeless by defining them away.

The council is asking the Government to allow all local authorities to save money by cutting drastically the numbers of homeless people they are obliged by law to rehouse. If the plans are accepted by ministers, tens of thousands of destitute people across Britain could be denied priority places on council house waiting lists.

This controversial proposal has come to light just days after the District Auditor recommended in his preliminary report that 10 former councillors and officers (including one who is now a Tory MP) should be forced to pay back the pounds 21m their policies cost ratepayers, and be disqualified from standing as local councillors. That case involved an attempt to manipulate elections whereas the new proposal does not, but a common theme links the two: in both cases the council demonstrates a determined reluctance to accept responsibility for housing the poor people within its boundaries.

Last week's revelations about what the auditor, John Magill, variously described as the 'disgraceful', 'wilful', 'unlawful', 'unauthorised' and 'improper' decisions of Westminster Council, were based on events between 1986 and 1988. His report describes how Dame Shirley Porter, the heiress to the Tesco fortune who was then council leader, with her Conservative colleagues and some council officers, produced a two-track strategy to ensure that the Tories were returned to power in the marginal local authority.

One track dealt with the homeless, whom the Labour Party had organised and put on the electoral roll before the closely fought 1986 council election. They were regarded as a danger to the Conservatives, and a policy document drawn up for the local Tory leadership said in 1986 that the council must examine the costs of 'homeless / down and outs who are not our natural supporters'.

The other track involved house sales. The Conservatives decided that home ownership - at very low levels in central London - should be increased so that a natural and permanent Conservative majority could be manufactured in Westminster. This was to be achieved by setting aside 10,000 council homes for sale to Westminster residents or to people from outside. Vacant council homes - where tenants had died or moved on - were to be sold at a rate of 500 a year. Most of the 'designated' homes were in eight electoral wards with fragile Tory majorities. By promoting owner-occupation in the target wards, a paper for the Tory leadership explained in 1987, the politicians would encourage 'a pattern of tenure which is more likely to translate into Conservative votes'.

Gerrymandering, the word used by the auditor, is not quite the right term to describe this policy. Technically, the word means drawing electoral boun daries to the advantage of the governing party. Westminster was more ambitious: the council was not merely changing the boundaries it was attempting to change the electorate.

These policies, the council and the Conservative Party maintain, are all history now. Lady Porter left in 1992 and the council is under new management - although it is still Tory management.

But Labour politicians, housing associations and workers for the homeless claim that Lady Porter's successors are still shipping such people out of Westminster to leased accommodation in the East End of London and down-at-heel suburbs.

This would matter less to the rest of the country were Tory Westminster not secretly using its considerable influence with Conservative ministers, who have praised it to the skies over the past eight years, to press for a change in the law. A confidential document, Home lessness: a Shopping List for Early Change, shows that it is urging the Government to clamp down on the rights of the homeless to be put on a council's housing list. The council recommends that the Government should make it harder for young single mothers, battered wives, immigrants and the mentally ill to obtain council homes.

Later this month, Sir George Young, the Housing Minister, whose civil servants are being lobbied by Westminster, will announce a review of council housing policy. It is likely that he will reflect some of Westminster's hardline views. In one of the 'back to basics' speeches at the Tory Party conference last October, Young indicated that he wanted to restrict the rights of single mothers to priority on council house waiting lists.

Gavin Millar, the Labour spokesman on housing on Westminster Council, said: 'What we are seeing is a battle to escape from responsibility for the homeless. First, the Conservatives tried to ship them out . . . now that policy has failed, they are trying to change the definition of who is homeless and has the right to be cared for by the council. They want the centre of London to be like the centre of New York - a British Manhattan where the rich can walk without being troubled by conscience and the poor are safely tucked away in their ghettos.'

TO MOST people, Westminster is merely the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace and West End shops. But for all its apparent glamour, the area has its fair share of metropolitan poverty. Westminster pushes north into Kilburn, the traditional London home for the working-class Irish, and west into Bayswater, where Peter Rachman had his slum housing empire in the 1950s.

As offices and shops moved into the richer part of Westminster and wealthy homeowners moved out to the suburbs, the Conservatives found that they were left with an electorate overwhelmingly comprised of tenants. In 1981, just 21 per cent of residents owned their own home compared to 65 per cent nationally. In 1986 local elections, the Tories came within a handful of votes of losing control of the council. Homeless ness was, and remains, high in central London, where the council had to cope with people coming from all over the country looking for work.

The Magill report shows that the council leadership's response to this unfavourable demographic trend combined two themes: a passionate belief in privatisation and an attitude to the poor which might most charitably be described as high-handed.

On 2 September 1986, a note of a meeting of senior politicians shows that the blunt question was asked: 'How can we get them (the homeless) out of Westminster City Council?'

A few days later, Porter sent senior Tories a confidential paper which included the warning that 'we are spending an extra pounds 1.52m this year' on meeting statutory responsibilities to house the homeless. The paper advised that the council should 'test the law to its limits', and move the homeless to 'property outside Westminster'. The aim was to encourage 'gentrification' within the area. In this case, gentrification was defined as 'ensuring that the right people live in the right areas'. The right areas were to be identified 'on the basis of electoral trends and results'.

Porter wrote to colleagues: 'When you've read the documents . . . it would be helpful if you swallow them in good spy fashion otherwise they might self-destruct]]' Her instructions were apparently not obeyed.

By 18 September, a homeless action plan had been drawn up and approved by Porter and six other Tory councillors. The policy was summarised by officers as 'mean and nasty'. In 1987 the two elements of the strategy were in place. Westminster would not just sell council houses to tenants; it would 'gentrify' the key marginal wards by selling empty properties to anyone with a connection with Westminster who wanted to buy. The homeless and priority families on the housing list, who might normally be expected to take the homes, were to be shunted out of the area instead. A council draft paper proclaimed that targets were to 'stop housing Westminster homeless in Westminster with immediate effect (and) to move all homeless out of Westminster starting with key wards by end 1988'.

The homeless were treated as meanly and nastily as Porter and the rest intended. Some went out to Essex and the London suburbs; others were left in hostels and on the street. The consequence was a steep rise in the number of people Westminster could not house but who were entitled to a home. In the five years from 1987 to 1992 the number rose from 210 to 871.

When it was asked to account for this, Westminster claimed that it faced special burdens because the council is in central London. But Westminster's own analysis of housing applicants showed that only a quarter were immigrants, refugees or people from other parts of Britain. Most had been thrown out of asylums in the community care programme or thrown out of their homes by friends, relatives and landlords. They were not scroungers who had come to London hoping that the streets were paved with gold, but ordinary people looking for a council to provide them with housing.

Porter said from California last week that she would return in February and clear her name. She denied that her conduct was illegal or improper. She said of Magill's report: 'I have received legal advice to the effect that his view is neither correct in law nor in fact.'

The central Porter policy - the targeting of key wards - was exposed and the auditor's investigation was instigated when Patricia Kirwan, the former Conservative chairwoman of Westminster's housing committee, admitted to the BBC in 1989 that gerrymandering was taking place. The plan was 'to increase the number of upwardly mobile Conservative-type voters in specific key areas to ensure the vote went up', she told Panorama.

WHILE the Magill report has exposed the policies of the 1980s to public scrutiny and condemnation, local Labour politicians in Westminster allege that the spirit of those policies lives on, because the Conservatives are still failing to build cheap homes for rent in Westminster and are continuing to move the poor out.

Council figures support the opposition claim. They show that in the past year 524 homeless people were sent to flats outside the area. In Westminster itself, just 147 cheap, public homes for rent were built.

Meanwhile, opportunities to force developers to build affordable homes in Westminster have been missed. The Government encourages councils to insist that developers provide some socially useful buildings - a 'planning gain' in local authority jargon - when they are given permission to develop a profitable site. But even though Westminster has big developments under way on the sites of two former hospitals and in the Paddington basin near the railway station, housing activists allege that opportunities to construct new homes have been ignored.

'It is not even willing to go along with Government policies,' said the chairman of one housing association. 'Westminster still has the view that planning gain is a nasty socialist policy.'

The present Tory leadership strongly denies that there is anything wrong in this. They are not gerrymandering but making the best use of limited resources by buying homes outside Westminster that are better value for money.

But there is a growing recognition that these policies are not sustainable. Westminster, like councils across the country, is running into the problems created by the council house sales programme which proved such a great vote-winner for the Conservatives after the 1979 general election. Councils are allowed to use only a small percentage of the receipts from the sale of houses to build new homes. As housing associations have been unable to meet the demand left by the collapse in council house building, there is nowhere for the destitute to go apart from bed-and-breakfast hostels or shop doorways.

Worse still, Westminster can no longer offer tax relief to encourage the developement of leasehold properties for its homeless in other parts of London. This is because subsidies under the Government's Business Expansion Scheme ceased to be available for this purpose at the end of 1993. As a result, Westminster has about 850 homeless families in temporary accommodation at present and 1,000 on a transfer list waiting to move from bedsits.

Rather than seeking new ways to build or find homes, the council's response to this crisis has been to ask the Government to reduce its obligations to house homeless people. The 'shopping list' it has sent to ministers calls for Whitehall to make a string of legal changes.

Pensioners should not be automatically regarded as having a 'priority need' for a home. 'Old age should not, in itself, establish a priority need,' the council document says. Councils should not be forced to put people who seem 'vulnerable' - often the mentally ill and battered wives - in hostels until their cases have been assessed and their vulnerability established to the satisfaction of council officers.

Westminster also wants to make it harder for homeless immigrants to claim a house. Councils should be able to consider whether an applicant has access to accommodation abroad and has deliberately made himself homeless, it said.

Meanwhile, children who are thrown out of their homes by their parents, mainly pregnant teenagers, should not automatically be given priority on waiting lists but should be compelled to go to the courts and demand re-entry to the family home, regardless of whether they want to or not.

THE ULTIMATE irony of the policy of the 1980s, and perhaps the lesson for today's council, is that many of the people who were supposed to benefit have turned into bitter enemies of Tory Westminster. Alan Duncan, Teresa Gorman and other Tory MPs have done well buying smart town houses, but for most of the supposed beneficiaries - ordinary people who bought modest flats - the experience has been a disaster.

About 800 have formed a pressure group and are demanding that the council buys their homes back. Mark Green, 35, a medical researcher, explains why. He paid pounds 45,000 for a flat on the 15th floor of a block on the Warwick estate in 1989. The flat was valued at pounds 62,000, but because he was a Westminster resident he got a pounds 17,000 discount from a council that was desperate to sell. Now estate agents have told him that his home is effectively worthless.

Green makes the key point that he had no choice but to buy. 'I and many others would have been happy to rent a council flat. But as they were all being sold off we would never have been able to rent in a million years.' He was assured that the whole estate had been designated for sale and that he would soon find himself surrounded by owner-occupiers rather than 'problem families'.

But within weeks of moving in, the council quietly dropped its plans to sell more flats in the block. It was only three years later, when a neighbour tried to move, that owner-occupiers discovered estate agents and building societies would have nothing to do with the properties.

The other victims are of course the homeless, who wanted to find somewhere to live in Westminster. Maxine Sandford was born and brought up in the area. She and her two young children have now been dumped by Westminster two hours away in a leased flat in the East End of London, where they know no one.

'They moved me away from my family and friends without any regard for my, or my children's, health and happiness. It's miles from anywhere and very hard for anyone to visit me. It's become a nightmare, I want to be moved back to Westminster,' she said.

Additional reporting by Jason Bennetto. Photograph by Tom Pilston.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/dumping-the-poor-nick-cohen-unravels-the-homesforvotes-scandal-engulfing-dame-shirley-porter-and-reveals-that-her-successors-on-westminster-council-are-still-1407226.html

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Who would want to buy a council house on the 19th floor of a sink estate

Who would want to buy a victorian terrace in west London

Those who benefitted from right to buy had already benefitted from the type of house allocated to them

win win for some lose lose for others

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Who would want to buy a council house on the 19th floor of a sink estate

Might be a good investment if you can get it very cheap. Buy it, gut it, leave it empty. Wait for the council to decide to knock the flats down and GOUGE AWAY!

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Indisputably correct.

The advocated solution seems to be to throw money at the problem, which is what is already being done. Except the author thinks that it would somehow be more efficient to have the public sector do the building. I suppose the reasoning must be that council houses must be cheap to build if they can be rented out for a pittance, and there is still plenty of money left over for maintenance.

But I cannot help wondering. Maybe it is somehow not possible for everyone to get a large cheap council house? That would be a shame since then the original article would be just a pointless shallow rant.

One might suppose they'd learn from their errors, instead Osborne is repeating them.

I am not so sure about what error he is repeating.

RTB is a relatively sane policy, even if only because gifting people an inheritable lifetime tenancy at a trivial rent is completely insane in comparison. Particularly as anyone who RTBs will pay all the maintenance costs, something remarkably close to a bubblicious market price for the property, and probably also inheritance tax when the time comes.

One thing "they" have learned is that if something close to the market rent is charged then it's not such a huge drag on the taxpayer to let the tenants stay as long as they like, or indeed as long as their benefits are sufficient to pay for somewhere that size. It seems to me that this effectively abolishes council housing, and will eventually solve the problem. Not necessarily in a way that the entitled classes would like, but I am yet to see someone make a reasoned argument about what is so unfair about it. OTOH, there would be plenty to choose from if I wanted a confused creative-writing class assignment masquerading as an argument instead.

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  • 276 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?


      • down 5% +
      • down 2.5%
      • Even
      • up 2.5%
      • up 5%



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