Housing Crisis – However you look at it the real issue is the lack of social housing

How many times have we watched politicians of all colours wringing their hands in an attempt to look like they are tackling our nationwide housing crisis? Far too many times.

We’ve had ‘Help to Buy’ and all the other incentive schemes to get young folk onto the housing ladder but there’s strong opinion that these initiatives do little more than put more money in developers pockets whilst probably keeping house prices high! But however you cut it none of these politician’s schemes are addressing the real problem – the huge lack of social housing.

Yes, we all know that this crisis had it’s seeds set back when 1980’s Thatcherism brought in ‘Right to Buy’ for council houses because the money raised from the sales was not used to build new council/social housing. It’s now generations since that policy was brought in and each year that passes we fail to build enough social houses for rent.

Not everyone wants to own their own home but many who do will sadly never afford it due to our low wage culture.

The effect of all this has been an explosion in the private rented housing sector, but with rents often much higher than the cost of a mortgage. Of course, those who want to save up for a deposit can’t do so in part because they are paying such large amounts to their private landlords! A housing trap indeed and those who are the poorest suffer the most with poor housing conditions, landlords not doing repairs and eviction when the rents outstrip their ability to pay them. At this point local councils have to pick up the problem of homeless people and this becomes a bigger problem week by week, month by month…..

And let’s not get all rose tinted spectacles about how council housing used to be because in many cases it was poor and it led to the Decent Homes Standard that Blair’s government brought in. Trouble is there are still many homes in the social housing/council housing/housing association sector that still don’t meet those standards.

The regulation of housing associations also looks to be far too light touch with some of them, particularly we are told the larger ones, not delivering decent homes or doing repairs in a timely way. Government only seems interested in scoring housing associations over how many new properties they build and no one is keeping an eye on the standards by which they manage their properties. There’s also a worrying slide towards not having strong tenant participation in the running of housing associations.

So we don’t have anywhere near enough social houses and those we do have are at best patchy in terms of their management/maintenance. At the same time we are sacrificing more Green Belt and high grade agricultural land to build houses, which will be almost all privately owned/privately rented thereby not meeting our real housing needs. And that’s not even adding into the pot that the houses we are building are often 3, 4 & 5 bedroomed properties when we also need 1 and 2 bedroomed houses, bungalows etc. for our aging population.

Housing crisis, we certainly have one, but our politicians have their heads firmly in the sand with their fingers in their ears so what they won’t see and can’t hear is not happening.

2 thoughts on “Housing Crisis – However you look at it the real issue is the lack of social housing

  1. Bob Jungels says:

    To be fair, Tony, this isn’t really about the politicians turning a blind eye to the issue with their heads in the sand.
    Quite simply, the cause of this issue is liberal capitalism.
    The effect is an unregulated market where developers can (and do) run riot.
    The government allows this to happen. This is conservative policy, and some may say, is also a traditional Lib Dem policy too (see also: Nick Clegg).
    Because the government wants to step away from this kind of regulation and the capitalists too, well, capitalise, there is no structure to the market. Both in a provisional sense (you’re right about the imbalance towards 3,4,5 bedroom houses), and in a planning sense (design standards are poor, little or no consideration for active travel / public realm / creating a nice environment to live in).
    But okay, there is only one solution: get this government out!

    • Mm, I’m not so sure about the politicians, I feel they have just sat back and allowed this kind of problem to arise. As for Clegg, his version of Liberalism is not for me, I’m radical and well to the left of the likes of him. I actually called for him to resign as Lib Dem Leader.

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