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Where Will We Live? - merged

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It was Britain’s biggest privatisation by far, worth some £40 billion in its first 25 years. But the money earned from selling Britain’s vast national investment in housing – an investment made at the expense of other pressing needs by a poor country recovering from war – was sucked out of housing for ever. Councils weren’t allowed to spend the money they earned to replace the homes they sold, and central government funding for housing was slashed.

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n01/james-meek/where-will-we-live

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There is truth in that article, but also a lot of lies.

"In the 1990s, Quinn was officially recognised as too sick to work as the result of a bundle of ailments (she lists them: joint pain, migraines, gastritis, bouts of depression, underactive thyroid) and since then has had her rent and council tax, currently £120.39 a week, covered by housing benefit. ...

The bedroom tax – which effectively fines Quinn for losing her husband – slashes her housing benefit to £97.15 a week, leaving her to make up the £23.24 difference out of her incapacity payment."

This is not true.

Housing benefit covers rent. It does not cover Council Tax.

Council Tax benefit is separate, and is not affected.

The rent alone I guess is around £105/week. The actual under-occupancy charge is 14%, so around £14.70 per week. I am not sure where £23.24 comes from.

In addition, she is not being fined for losing her husband, as a two-bedroom flat is still subject to underoccupancy charge if a married couple are living in it.

"Except now she’s not getting that either. At the same time she was hit by the bedroom tax, she was called in for a medical to reassess her fitness for work under the government’s new, tighter incapacity rules."

Yes, she failed the medical, scoring zero on the tests designed to show if she was unfit for work. There are vast, absurd, obscene numbers of people living in inner London boroughs who are officially unable to contribute to society. There is something very wrong with this. 42% of children living in Tower Hamlets are growing up in poverty, the highest in the UK. The benefits system is designed to support people in difficult circumstances, but it also has served to keep people in those circumstances.

Why would you ever come off incapacity benefit, when it is twice as generous as JSA, and doesn't require you to ever look for a job? Even if you are fit for work, which she very clearly is:

"She does unpaid volunteer work as a local health champion. ‘I can’t do the heavy stuff. I’m not saying I can’t work at all but they want you to work a full 40-hour week. They should prepare you for work and find out what you can do, instead of saying you’ve got to be prepared to work from now, without any preparation or anything.’"

So she has been working, but for free, because she doesn't want to lose her benefits. And she isn't required to work 40 hours a week, that's another lie, in fact

" At the age of sixty,"

you need to do paid work of at least 16 hours a week, per http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/taxcredits/keep-up-to-date/changes-affect/work-changes/changes-to-hours.htm in order to get working tax credit

If she works 16 hours per week, at minimum wage, she will earn £137.88 per week inclusive of tax credits. That's a fair bit more than the £112 incapacity benefit she was getting, and even net of the ~£15/week bedroom tax, she will still be better off.

She is fit to work, so work she should.

Obviously she has very little chance of finding a 1-bed flat to switch to at a comparable rent in Tower Hamlets, and the £15/week charge is hardly worth collecting, and the whole idea was a bit stupid, but we can see that at least one half of the welfare reforms (the IB fitness) is worthwhile here.

"Britain’s ever helpful banks have contributed to the picture. They have permitted Quinn to build up a debt of £6000 on three credit cards. "

Well yes, that's how credit cards work. If you buy things you can't afford, then it works out more expensive than not buying things you can't afford. It's amazing how these people blame poor budgeting on anyone but those doing it.

"I asked Quinn if a relative could move in so as to avoid the bedroom tax. ‘That defeats the purpose of having a second bedroom,’ she said. ‘Why shouldn’t I have a home I don’t have to share with anyone? "

Why should you?

My friend was once comfortably off, happily married, never on any benefits, her husband cheated on her, left her and sent the family fortune overseas, nothing was recoverable, she took a lodger in and eventually sold her house and downsized to a smaller one. I'm sure she would have preferred not to do with that, but reality being what it is, we can't all get what we want.

"I could have my granddaughter move in. But if I had her, my daughter would have to give up the family credit. There’s a way round it but somebody else has to lose money."

So basically the benefits system has created three generations of welfare sponges. Lovely.

"One of the curious things about Quinn’s situation is that the government would love to give her £100,000, but she’s not prosperous enough to qualify for it. That figure is the maximum discount on the market price a council tenant who exercises Right to Buy can now claim in London. Given that her flat would be worth at least £300,000, Quinn could, in theory, buy it, sell it on and pocket the difference. But then she’d have nowhere to live; and she can’t raise the missing £200,000, because she has no money for a deposit and no way of getting a mortgage. "

This is not true either, you can borrow up to 100% of the price of a RTB property.

http://www.nationwide-intermediary.co.uk/lendingcriteria/schemes/right_to_buy_purchase

"Councils made some terrible mistakes in their postwar housebuilding programme, partly because of pre-Thatcherite Conservative populism. The Tories started a race with Labour over who could build more houses, abandoning Bevan’s conviction that numbers weren’t enough, that the homes had to be spacious and well built, too.

The worst blunder involved the use of a Danish system of prefabricated concrete panels to build tower blocks three times higher than they were designed to be, assembled by badly supervised, badly trained workers and engineers. Hence the Ronan Point disaster in 1968, when a 22-storey block in East London partly collapsed after a gas explosion, killing four people. "

More lies, Ronan Point was built in 1966 in Newham, which has been under Labour control for the entirety of history, by a Labour council under a Labour government.

These foaming-at-the-mouth socialists, so keen to damn anything called 'Conservative', have only a scanty acquaintance with the truth.

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There is truth in that article, but also a lot of lies.

"In the 1990s, Quinn was officially recognised as too sick to work as the result of a bundle of ailments (she lists them: joint pain, migraines, gastritis, bouts of depression, underactive thyroid) and since then has had her rent and council tax, currently £120.39 a week, covered by housing benefit. ...

The bedroom tax – which effectively fines Quinn for losing her husband – slashes her housing benefit to £97.15 a week, leaving her to make up the £23.24 difference out of her incapacity payment."

This is not true.

Housing benefit covers rent. It does not cover Council Tax.

Council Tax benefit is separate, and is not affected.

The rent alone I guess is around £105/week. The actual under-occupancy charge is 14%, so around £14.70 per week. I am not sure where £23.24 comes from.

In addition, she is not being fined for losing her husband, as a two-bedroom flat is still subject to underoccupancy charge if a married couple are living in it.

"Except now she’s not getting that either. At the same time she was hit by the bedroom tax, she was called in for a medical to reassess her fitness for work under the government’s new, tighter incapacity rules."

Yes, she failed the medical, scoring zero on the tests designed to show if she was unfit for work. There are vast, absurd, obscene numbers of people living in inner London boroughs who are officially unable to contribute to society. There is something very wrong with this. 42% of children living in Tower Hamlets are growing up in poverty, the highest in the UK. The benefits system is designed to support people in difficult circumstances, but it also has served to keep people in those circumstances.

Why would you ever come off incapacity benefit, when it is twice as generous as JSA, and doesn't require you to ever look for a job? Even if you are fit for work, which she very clearly is:

"She does unpaid volunteer work as a local health champion. ‘I can’t do the heavy stuff. I’m not saying I can’t work at all but they want you to work a full 40-hour week. They should prepare you for work and find out what you can do, instead of saying you’ve got to be prepared to work from now, without any preparation or anything.’"

So she has been working, but for free, because she doesn't want to lose her benefits. And she isn't required to work 40 hours a week, that's another lie, in fact

" At the age of sixty,"

you need to do paid work of at least 16 hours a week, per http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/taxcredits/keep-up-to-date/changes-affect/work-changes/changes-to-hours.htm in order to get working tax credit

If she works 16 hours per week, at minimum wage, she will earn £137.88 per week inclusive of tax credits. That's a fair bit more than the £112 incapacity benefit she was getting, and even net of the ~£15/week bedroom tax, she will still be better off.

She is fit to work, so work she should.

Obviously she has very little chance of finding a 1-bed flat to switch to at a comparable rent in Tower Hamlets, and the £15/week charge is hardly worth collecting, and the whole idea was a bit stupid, but we can see that at least one half of the welfare reforms (the IB fitness) is worthwhile here.

"Britain’s ever helpful banks have contributed to the picture. They have permitted Quinn to build up a debt of £6000 on three credit cards. "

Well yes, that's how credit cards work. If you buy things you can't afford, then it works out more expensive than not buying things you can't afford. It's amazing how these people blame poor budgeting on anyone but those doing it.

"I asked Quinn if a relative could move in so as to avoid the bedroom tax. ‘That defeats the purpose of having a second bedroom,’ she said. ‘Why shouldn’t I have a home I don’t have to share with anyone? "

Why should you?

My friend was once comfortably off, happily married, never on any benefits, her husband cheated on her, left her and sent the family fortune overseas, nothing was recoverable, she took a lodger in and eventually sold her house and downsized to a smaller one. I'm sure she would have preferred not to do with that, but reality being what it is, we can't all get what we want.

"I could have my granddaughter move in. But if I had her, my daughter would have to give up the family credit. There’s a way round it but somebody else has to lose money."

So basically the benefits system has created three generations of welfare sponges. Lovely.

"One of the curious things about Quinn’s situation is that the government would love to give her £100,000, but she’s not prosperous enough to qualify for it. That figure is the maximum discount on the market price a council tenant who exercises Right to Buy can now claim in London. Given that her flat would be worth at least £300,000, Quinn could, in theory, buy it, sell it on and pocket the difference. But then she’d have nowhere to live; and she can’t raise the missing £200,000, because she has no money for a deposit and no way of getting a mortgage. "

This is not true either, you can borrow up to 100% of the price of a RTB property.

http://www.nationwide-intermediary.co.uk/lendingcriteria/schemes/right_to_buy_purchase

"Councils made some terrible mistakes in their postwar housebuilding programme, partly because of pre-Thatcherite Conservative populism. The Tories started a race with Labour over who could build more houses, abandoning Bevan’s conviction that numbers weren’t enough, that the homes had to be spacious and well built, too.

The worst blunder involved the use of a Danish system of prefabricated concrete panels to build tower blocks three times higher than they were designed to be, assembled by badly supervised, badly trained workers and engineers. Hence the Ronan Point disaster in 1968, when a 22-storey block in East London partly collapsed after a gas explosion, killing four people. "

More lies, Ronan Point was built in 1966 in Newham, which has been under Labour control for the entirety of history, by a Labour council under a Labour government.

These foaming-at-the-mouth socialists, so keen to damn anything called 'Conservative', have only a scanty acquaintance with the truth.

Nailed.

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There is truth in that article, but also a lot of lies.

No argument there.

But it's still a miserable situation, created by both parties of government. And no prospect of improving.

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Getting HB when on WTC is a nightmare.

Agree about the glue trap benefits system though. Get people dependent, keep them that way for years and years, then tell to go earn a living when they're unemployable.

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Agree about the glue trap benefits system though. Get people dependent, keep them that way for years and years, then tell to go earn a living when they're unemployable.

Yes, this is true.

I also wonder why my rent has doubled over the past 8 years.

I`m also plotting a course to get me from 54 to 66! When you`re as tight as I am it should be no problem.

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There is truth in that article, but also a lot of lies.

"In the 1990s, Quinn was officially recognised as too sick to work as the result of a bundle of ailments (she lists them: joint pain, migraines, gastritis, bouts of depression, underactive thyroid) and since then has had her rent and council tax, currently £120.39 a week, covered by housing benefit. ...

The bedroom tax – which effectively fines Quinn for losing her husband – slashes her housing benefit to £97.15 a week, leaving her to make up the £23.24 difference out of her incapacity payment."

This is not true.

Housing benefit covers rent. It does not cover Council Tax.

Council Tax benefit is separate, and is not affected.

The rent alone I guess is around £105/week. The actual under-occupancy charge is 14%, so around £14.70 per week. I am not sure where £23.24 comes from.

In addition, she is not being fined for losing her husband, as a two-bedroom flat is still subject to underoccupancy charge if a married couple are living in it.

"Except now she's not getting that either. At the same time she was hit by the bedroom tax, she was called in for a medical to reassess her fitness for work under the government's new, tighter incapacity rules."

Yes, she failed the medical, scoring zero on the tests designed to show if she was unfit for work. There are vast, absurd, obscene numbers of people living in inner London boroughs who are officially unable to contribute to society. There is something very wrong with this. 42% of children living in Tower Hamlets are growing up in poverty, the highest in the UK. The benefits system is designed to support people in difficult circumstances, but it also has served to keep people in those circumstances.

Why would you ever come off incapacity benefit, when it is twice as generous as JSA, and doesn't require you to ever look for a job? Even if you are fit for work, which she very clearly is:

"She does unpaid volunteer work as a local health champion. 'I can't do the heavy stuff. I'm not saying I can't work at all but they want you to work a full 40-hour week. They should prepare you for work and find out what you can do, instead of saying you've got to be prepared to work from now, without any preparation or anything.'"

So she has been working, but for free, because she doesn't want to lose her benefits. And she isn't required to work 40 hours a week, that's another lie, in fact

" At the age of sixty,"

you need to do paid work of at least 16 hours a week, per http://www.hmrc.gov....es-to-hours.htm in order to get working tax credit

If she works 16 hours per week, at minimum wage, she will earn £137.88 per week inclusive of tax credits. That's a fair bit more than the £112 incapacity benefit she was getting, and even net of the ~£15/week bedroom tax, she will still be better off.

She is fit to work, so work she should.

Obviously she has very little chance of finding a 1-bed flat to switch to at a comparable rent in Tower Hamlets, and the £15/week charge is hardly worth collecting, and the whole idea was a bit stupid, but we can see that at least one half of the welfare reforms (the IB fitness) is worthwhile here.

"Britain's ever helpful banks have contributed to the picture. They have permitted Quinn to build up a debt of £6000 on three credit cards. "

Well yes, that's how credit cards work. If you buy things you can't afford, then it works out more expensive than not buying things you can't afford. It's amazing how these people blame poor budgeting on anyone but those doing it.

"I asked Quinn if a relative could move in so as to avoid the bedroom tax. 'That defeats the purpose of having a second bedroom,' she said. 'Why shouldn't I have a home I don't have to share with anyone? "

Why should you?

My friend was once comfortably off, happily married, never on any benefits, her husband cheated on her, left her and sent the family fortune overseas, nothing was recoverable, she took a lodger in and eventually sold her house and downsized to a smaller one. I'm sure she would have preferred not to do with that, but reality being what it is, we can't all get what we want.

"I could have my granddaughter move in. But if I had her, my daughter would have to give up the family credit. There's a way round it but somebody else has to lose money."

So basically the benefits system has created three generations of welfare sponges. Lovely.

"One of the curious things about Quinn's situation is that the government would love to give her £100,000, but she's not prosperous enough to qualify for it. That figure is the maximum discount on the market price a council tenant who exercises Right to Buy can now claim in London. Given that her flat would be worth at least £300,000, Quinn could, in theory, buy it, sell it on and pocket the difference. But then she'd have nowhere to live; and she can't raise the missing £200,000, because she has no money for a deposit and no way of getting a mortgage. "

This is not true either, you can borrow up to 100% of the price of a RTB property.

http://www.nationwid...to_buy_purchase

"Councils made some terrible mistakes in their postwar housebuilding programme, partly because of pre-Thatcherite Conservative populism. The Tories started a race with Labour over who could build more houses, abandoning Bevan's conviction that numbers weren't enough, that the homes had to be spacious and well built, too.

The worst blunder involved the use of a Danish system of prefabricated concrete panels to build tower blocks three times higher than they were designed to be, assembled by badly supervised, badly trained workers and engineers. Hence the Ronan Point disaster in 1968, when a 22-storey block in East London partly collapsed after a gas explosion, killing four people. "

More lies, Ronan Point was built in 1966 in Newham, which has been under Labour control for the entirety of history, by a Labour council under a Labour government.

These foaming-at-the-mouth socialists, so keen to damn anything called 'Conservative', have only a scanty acquaintance with the truth.

I am not educated and pretty simple really and I haven't begun to comprehend the implications of Citizens Income but what hit me when reading something about it on this site Canadians Talking About A Citizens Income was how even discussing such ideas confirms (I assume) that such ideas are considered plausible, possible and how such ideas immediately start to shift our thinking (regardless of whether we agree or disagree) about "welfare spongers" and "shirkers" and the whole work ethic that gives rise to such statements as Mrs Quinn and "obscene numbers of people living in inner London boroughs who are officially unable to contribute to society" whilst ignoring that Mrs Quinn does "contribute" "She does unpaid volunteer work as a local health champion" . What is more I doubt that "42% of children living in Tower Hamlets are growing up in poverty" because their parents are not "contributing to society", as this link again on HPC states Most People Classed as Being in Poverty have a job .

So what I find exciting and frustrating and confusing and ...(fill in the dots) about the times we are living through are the possibilities of perhaps starting to create some structural shifts in the way that life is getting organized and the "spin" which so often creates such inequalities and prejudices which can only be "spun" by what is not included IN in such statements as "who are officially unable to contribute to society", statements which rarely include for instance what central banking and mortgage backed securities etc etc has "contributed to society"!! What I find exciting about the times we are living through are the questions that need to be asked, the thoughts that need to be thought in relation for instance as to why Mrs Quinn a few short years ago could afford to live in her two bed flat in London and now only bankers, an immigration lawyer and an accountant working in one of London's temples of public art can afford to live in the £300,000 (and increasing ) flats in Mrs Quinn's block and have (2nd homes there?)

New physics (which are quite old now) informs me that there can no longer be a separating out of parts, that life is not a great machine that we can somehow "fix" in part, instead the whole of life, whether we like it or not is inextricably interconnected and interconnecting and those who would argue against Mrs Quinn and perhaps for a city banker "contributing to society" whilst imposing bedroom tax which sees a persons rent double (to find a 1 bed flat) are as responsible as Mrs Quinn for the whole situation that sees 42% of children in Tower Hamlets growing up in poverty and the UK in how much in debt bailing out the banks ? But as Esther McVey said during the debate about the increasing need for food banks " In the UK it is right that more people are going to food banks because as times are tough, we are all having to pay back this £1.5 trillion debt personally. We are all trying to live within our means, change gear and make sure that we pay back all our debt".

There are great inequalities in our world which are not going to get "ironed" out by getting people "back to work" but by us ALL (including Mrs Quinn and the 42% in Tower Hamlets and the 99%) considering if our present systems are "working" and "contributing to society" and what systems may contribute more for the benefit of the whole not just simply for those with the power to force the rest of us to labour for the benefit of the few.

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There is truth in that article, but also a lot of lies.

...

These foaming-at-the-mouth socialists, so keen to damn anything called 'Conservative', have only a scanty acquaintance with the truth.

Bottom line is, we have a government trying to pump up the property market with tax-payers money while trying to cut housing benefit. The conservatives are damning themselves without any help.

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There was too much bias in the article but it did throw up some interesting and shocking information. For example of the £9.5 billion the department of housing and transport gets only £1 billion is spent on housing. That's a damning statistic given the housing shortage we've had for nigh on a decade now.

Also that private sector house building has remained flat since about 1960 despite the total numbers of houses being building being halved, as a result of the end of council house building. So it's something that pre-dates the rise of boomer nimbyism. Thus is our house building market completely incapable of providing the needed housing irrespective of planning issues, etc, without the government taking a hand-in via council house building?

Lastly, the 1.5 million house shadow-land-bank of the builders is shocking but doesn't surprise me and may explain the above. That they've locked up via contracts the vast majority of the land that would be likely to get planning permission any time soon come what may.

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The bedroom tax – which effectively fines Quinn for losing her husband – slashes her housing benefit to £97.15 a week, leaving her to make up the £23.24 difference out of her incapacity payment."

This is not true.

Housing benefit covers rent. It does not cover Council Tax.

Council Tax benefit is separate, and is not affected.

The rent alone I guess is around £105/week. The actual under-occupancy charge is 14%, so around £14.70 per week. I am not sure where £23.24 comes from.

These numbers might be right, as council tax benefit doesn't exist any more, and the benefit that replaced it doesn't 100% cover the payments, leaving people to pay some towards the council tax from their other benefits.

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Was a dyed in the wool Tory in the 80s but selling off the national housing stock and then not reinvesting in it has absolutely ruined this country.

I see people picking things apart to have a pop at socialism. Fair enough if that's your bent, but don't let it blinker you from the fact privatisation, not socialism, of the UK's housing stock by everybody's favourite right-wingers is the thing that has really done irreparable damage.

Nice lesson to be learned about privatisation and trickle down economics in general actually. Works great from those who can get their mitts on the wealth and infrastructure first, but then those initial lucky buggers neglect to ever let go.

Edited by byron78

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Despite intense dislike for Ian Duncan Smith and mistrust of the Tories in general, I struggle to feel sufficient empathy with her ‘first world problems’ of joint pain, migraines and depression etc… to believe she should have been sponsored to sit on her **** for 14 years solid.

Why is she so worried? All she’s got to do is endure a little bit longer, then she can look forward to becoming a pensioner - since that’s a prime Tory voting demographic, she will instantly become a saint, bedroom tax won’t apply, and her benefits will be ring-fenced and index linked forever.

We do need far more social housing built though.

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Fair enough if that's your bent, but don't let it blinker you from the fact privatisation, not socialism, of the UK's housing stock by everybody's favourite right-wingers is the thing that has really done irreparable damage.

I'm sure the private sector - that would be you and me - have massive difficulty in providing new homes because the government won't let us!

I can concur that expecting the private sector to build while also banning it from building shows a quite impressive degree of stupidity.

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I'm sure the private sector - that would be you and me - have massive difficulty in providing new homes because the government won't let us!

I can concur that expecting the private sector to build while also banning it from building shows a quite impressive degree of stupidity.

Lol. Agree with the above in everything but I fully doubt that the government actually admits to itself that we as individuals are part of the private sector as well as the large-scale, land-banking, s*%t box building, property companies which seem to operate under a much laxer planning system than is applied to the average self-builder...

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Great read. Thanks for posting it.

No it's not

It's irrational wordy cr*p of the highest order

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Despite intense dislike for Ian Duncan Smith and mistrust of the Tories in general, I struggle to feel sufficient empathy with her ‘first world problems’ of joint pain, migraines and depression etc… to believe she should have been sponsored to sit on her **** for 14 years solid..

People in the Third World suffer from all of those problems too. It's a total myth that they don't suffer depression. They do but of course there is a major lack of mental health services for example, so of course it goes massively under-reported.

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Tells us what we already know. Tories like unaffordable housing as they're landowner scum. Labour like it because it allows them to 'save' us with some inefficient and favouritist bureaucratic nightmare. Neither party wants the free market to work. The status quo serves them both well.

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......only because gentrification is part of the alternative agenda? ;)

I think you'll find its new radical dumb speak (talking hyperprogressively reappraisal)

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... since Thatcher, the British government has done the exact opposite of what it has encouraged households to do: to buy their own homes, rather than renting. Thatcher and her successors have done all they can to sell off the nation’s bricks and mortar, only to be forced to rent it back, at inflated prices, from the people they sold it to. Before Right to Buy, the government spent a pound on building homes for every pound it spent on rent subsidies. Now, for every pound it spends on housing benefit, it puts five pence towards building. ..

Madness.

Edited by byron78

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London Review of Books

Where will we live?

James Meek writes about the housing crisis

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n01/james-meek/where-will-we-live

...

What you think the Thatcherites expected to happen once they’d set Right to Buy in motion depends on how cynical you are about their motives. ...

... One outcome can be seen starkly in a recent online manifesto for self-builders of private homes, A Right to Build. Published in 2011 by Sheffield University’s school of architecture and the London architectural practice 00:/, it was designed as an attack on the dominance of the big seven private housebuilding companies – in descending order of size, Taylor Wimpey, Barratt Homes, Persimmon, Bellway, Redrow, Bovis and Crest Nicholson – who between them have almost 40 per cent of the market in new homes. But the most striking thing in the document is a chart displaying the history of Britain, in housebuilding and house prices, since 1946. ...

... since Thatcher, the British government has done the exact opposite of what it has encouraged households to do: to buy their own homes, rather than renting. Thatcher and her successors have done all they can to sell off the nation’s bricks and mortar, only to be forced to rent it back, at inflated prices, from the people they sold it to. Before Right to Buy, the government spent a pound on building homes for every pound it spent on rent subsidies. Now, for every pound it spends on housing benefit, it puts five pence towards building. ...

Council rents were subsidized.

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Council rents were subsidized.

But at least the council could dictate the subsidy.

The private market will always demand the maximum it can extract - hence a soaraway benefit bill driven by surging HB benefit costs.

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