A housing crisis? Punish the poor


A letter a day to number 10. No 1,504

Wednesday 27 July 2016.

Dear Mrs May,

One could be forgiven for thinking that a government report, the 2014/15 English Housing Survey, that found 57,485 households had fallen behind on their rent due to the bedroom tax, might be a matter of concern for the government and that this might be flagged up as a matter requiring urgent attention. Instead, as the Mirror reports, it was dumped (released), along with more than 300 other documents on the day that parliament closed for its six week summer break.

It should not need saying, but clearly the circumstances necessitate it, that each one of these households is a household in distress, right now, and for every day that passes without action to alleviate that distress. It is not clear how many of these households are facing eviction or the threat of eviction, but clearly that has to be a major concern, or one would think so, certainly it will be for the tenants, who just happen to be real people.

Instead of funding house building and encouraging and enabling people to move, if they choose to, it is also reported that ‘David Cameron has been branded the ‘worst ever’ prime minister for housing’ and that ‘new figures showed fewer homes were built each year under his leadership than any prime minister since 1923’.

Gavin Barwell, your new housing minister, has predictably blamed labour, saying that, ‘the problem is catching up with the low level of building under Labour’. Quite how he squares that circle I do not know, perhaps he meant Labour prior to 1923, which would be interesting given that Labour did not form its first government until 1924 under Ramsey MacDonald. But hey, let’s not let facts get in the way of fiction. Certainly, Cameron never did and Michael Gove even said, making his case for Brexit, ‘the people of this country have had enough of experts’. Oh, he really, really did. I rather think the best use for Gove would be in a garden, holding a fishing rod.

I confess that I was born at a very young age in 1951, but even I can remember the massive house building programme under Labour post WWII, indeed my family moved into a newly built house shortly after my birth. House building in the face of a housing crisis seemed to be the right answer then, why isn’t it now? Why are social tenants being punished for the current housing crisis, instead of building houses which would be good for society and good for the economy, creating thousands of jobs and boosting a wide range of businesses?

We’ve suffered for six years under the worst government in modern history, it really is time for change and not more of the same, don’t you think?





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