To let sign

Housing and homelessness has been a growing concern for a number of years now but it being an election year activists are trying to make sure it’s at the top of everyone’s agenda.

On 31 January, activists, unions and campaigners joined together to march on City Hall to demand better housing for London. Over 6,000 people took to the streets in The March for Homes.

There is an open letter on the March for Homes website which says:

Government policies are stoking up the housing crisis blighting the lives of Londoners, with subsidies to lenders and developers, while tenants’ rights are undermined.

Over 344,000 are on council waiting lists.  The average house price is sixteen times the average Londoner’s salary.  Expensive, insecure and often poor quality private renting has become the only option for a quarter of us.

Private property developers are driving policy of Ministers and the London Mayor,  building homes that few can afford, while many are forced to move out of the city.  Our broken housing policy is damaging our communities.

The March for Homes is demanding change.  Tenants, trade unionists and housing campaigners from all tenures and all parts of London will call on Boris Johnson and London councils to start building the thousands of new council homes we need, control private rents and stop the demolition of homes currently threatening over fifty estates.

The March for Homes will be the next step in the growing fight for decent, really affordable, secure housing for all Londoners. We will ensure that this is an election issue in 2015.

To help to solve the housing crisis they demand the following:

  • Rent Controls
  • Hands off council housing
  • Stop demolition of quality council homes
  • Affordable and secure homes for all
  • Cut rents not Benefits
  • End Bedroom Tax and welfare caps
  • Build new council houses

I think they are all reasonable demands but I’m disappointed that the Right to Buy wasn’t put up for discussion. Too much of a hot potato?

We can demand that councils build more affordable homes but we don’t mention that as one new home is being built more are being sold under the right to buy so the reduction in housing stock continues.

Since the Right to Buy policy was introduced in 1980 more than two million homes have been sold off. Councils and housing associations have not been able to replace these properties.

The Right to Buy offers a leg up on to the housing ladder for people who would not normally be able to afford to buy on the open market but surely the current crisis far outweighs the benefits to those that are lucky enough to have a council home in the first place.

What happened to the cash incentive schemes? Don’t councils and housing associations do those anymore? Also there’s the Help to Buy and shared ownership schemes that keep social housing stock intact. Do we really need the Right to Buy? Who is really benefiting from the scheme? Back in 2013 a third of ex-council homes were owned by rich landlords.

I’ve been following Phoenix Housing’s tweets on the Right to Buy debate and some of the figures make for depressing reading.

Right to buy debate

When chanting for councils to build more homes remember that Inside Housing’s Freedom of Information request revealed that almost a quarter of the £1.54bn raised through 22,900 right to buy sales since 2012 went straight into Treasury coffers.

Treasury grabs £358m of Right to Buy receipts
Credit Inside Housing

 

Only £588.3m was left for councils to build replacement homes, with a total of £929.4m used for other purposes.

benefit-scrongers-headlines

Taxpayers help to fund council homes and the megga discounts that tenants receive but we don’t see the same righteous indignation for the Right to Buy scheme as we do for ‘benefit scroungers’ and ‘work shy disabled people’. Why is that?

The Right to Buy has been scrapped in Scotland. Will England follow suit? Too contentious? Not an election winner?

Here are some fun facts about the Right to Buy. Do you think it’s time we said goodbye to the Right to Buy?

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Devastated in Deptford
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Devastated in Deptford

You’ll get no riteous indignation because the government and media haven’t whipped people up into a frenzy about the right to buy. Some who are lucky enough to have a council home are waiting for the day they can afford to buy so they don’t want their God thing ruined. Others are buying their parents homes waiting for them to pop off so they can make a profit.

I’d like to see statistics on people wh have purchased their homes under right to buy, lost them because they couldn’t afford the mortgage and then been rehoused again by councils and housing associations. It would be interesting to know how many of the thousands on the waiting list are mortgage repossessins.