There was a post to the Inside Housing discussion boards the other day that I thought posed some interesting points on the current housing poilicies that are being followed by the coalition government. I thought that it might be worth re-posting this in an attempt to stimulate some debate on the issues that have been raised. Please let us have your opinions, thoughts, responses to this post. I am sure that some will agree and some will disagree - but debate is healthy...
"There is no realistic parliamentary opposition to the Coalition. The Coalition is simply the continuation of New Labour which in turn was the next step down from the Thatcher/Major period. For example, James Purnell has already boasted that Ian Duncan Smith's mandatory 'community' work for the unemployed simply builds on his own plans to force the unemployed to work for nothing. Flint was the first to suggest making tenancies conditional on work. It was Labour who restricted support for owneroccupiers who have lost their jobs to two years. All Labour have had to say about the new housing policies so far is that cuts to benefits should be introduced a little more slowly. Not a meaningful word about increasing the supply of homes, of helping first time buyers get mortgages for themselves rather than pay the mortgages of their greedy, parasitic private landlords, of the unaffordability of the new 'affordable rent', of the effective demise of national planning policy. Lectures to China on their supposedlack of democracy is hypocritical. We have the same concept, a single political framework and ideology, but available in a choice of colours.
And before people start accusing me of supporting 'scroungers', the 'workshy', 'feckless tenants' can I simply again reiterate that we have just 450,000 vacancies available at the moment. Yes, there is churn but the fact remains - 450,000 jobs, 1,5 million on JSA anda further 3 million on other out of work benefits with another 1.5 million predicted by a number of reputable sources to join them in the next year or so - if every job was filled, even allowing for churn, at any given time between 1 and 4 million people would be without work. The one thing missing from the welfare and benefit reforms is the subject of Beveridge's 1944 report on full employment - that commitment by government to maintain full employment, defined as 97% of the working age population. And I think Beveridge meant with living wages not slave labour rates.
Housing is unaffordable for so many people, not because they are idle, feckless, scroungers but because since 1979 we simply haven't built enough to allow supply to keep pace with demand. Nothing has replaced the municipal sector that was there 1945 through 1979, not for fun, not to create idle feckless people, but because the government recognised that the capitalist system simply could not afford to or was unable to provide homes for everyone. So it filled the gap to maintain a sense of decency for us all. And to keep the workers well housed and fit for work.
Government - and by that I mean ConDems and Labour - no longer govern for the people or indeed the country. They have become so detached from the society they purport to represent that they simply can no longer conceive of anpolicy, practice or initiative that doesn't come out of a think-tank bubble, that doesn't pander to upper class and privileged prejudices"
Is this a bit of a simplistic view of the situation, or are there some grains of truth here? Let's have your views and opinions on where housing policy is likely to take us in the next few years.