Right to buy

February 15th, 2010

Stephen Greenhalgh and “decent neighbourhoods”

Anybody got anything intelligent to say about the continuing to stack the poorest and the most recently arrived on top of each other, in defined areas, for the rest of time?

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/davehillblog/2009/jul/08/hammersmith-fulham-stephen-greenhalgh-housing-policy-boris-johnson

Clearly you are right that this is not a good idea. However you have to look at the history to see why this now appears to be the case.

When RTB was introduced by Margaret Thatcher it was always going to be the most desirable properties in the best locations that went first to those who could afford the discounted prices. This inevitably altered the housing stock balance across the country adversely and tilted towards the estates which even if they had not been in trouble before now began to decline because tenants able to afford RTB on those estates moved out and let the flats to DSS tenants.

Therefore the percentage of unemployed and other people on benefits rose on those estates creating the sink estates we have now. I am not for a moment going to argue that there were no estates in trouble before 1979. Indeed I lived on one (Pepys Lewisham), and visited others (Kingsmead Hackney) in 1977 as part of my work as a carpenter so saw all too clearly that some estates had a crime problem and a bad reputation.

However RTB exacerbated this situation pushing those estates over the brink to sink status. Whether or not the current flag waving by New Labour to restrict future housing allocation away from new arrivals to locals ever happens, the lack of new building over many years means that the damage is already done and likely to continue. In case you hadn’t noticed nobody is building large estates of council housing any more, this is now a discredited model.

Then councils exacerbated an already deteriorating situation by allocating empty flats on difficult estates to people with problems, no doubt because others would not take them, it was and is a downward spiral.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/aug/29/social-housing-council-powers-immigration

However on the horizon is something far worse and if you follow the link in my earlier post you will see what Hammersmith and Fulham have in store for their social tenants and what may form the basis for a future Conservative administration’s policy on social housing if this is not directly challenged.

UPDATE: http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2010/sep/21/right-to-buy-coalition-loggerheads

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/sep/16/right-to-buy-rethink

[So the Guardian has now removed or renamed that article. Wonderful – 12/01/2016]

A letter to the Independent on 2nd November 2010 entitled The sad death of council housing

Renting your house from the council was then a normal, decent, pleasant and rational lifestyle choice, as it still is across Europe for millions of families from all walks of life. Council housing’s relentless decay into social housing was a direct result of Margaret Thatcher’s right to buy.

This reduced the municipal housing stock, stoked a raging private housing market and drove thousands of families into private renting, creating the inflated market for both renting and owner occupation that has blighted the UK for the past 30 years and is directly responsible for the present housing shortage and the cost of housing benefit (letters, 1 November). The problem is not too-generous benefits but too-high rents.

The solution is an end to the right to buy and renewed council house building, not depriving families of the basic right to security of housing.

http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/letters/letters-drugs-2122508.html

AND FINALLY:

Let us never forget . . .

Discussion note

and should they ever remove them from that server, you will still be able to find them . . .

Discussion-note_Concentrations-of-deprivation.pdf

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