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From The Socialist newspaper, 7 December 2011

Homes Crisis: Fund housing need - not fat cat greed!

Paul Kershaw, Unite LE 1111 housing workers' branch
Flooded with Debt, photo Suz www.squashdonkey.co.uk

Flooded with Debt, photo Suz www.squashdonkey.co.uk

The Con-Dems have announced a 'housing strategy' that benefits big building companies and banks, including selling off more social housing stock and underwriting banks that offer 95% 'subprime' mortgages for newly built houses. New 'affordable' housing will have rents at 80% of the market level - better described as unaffordable!

Between April and September 2010 there were 13,626 new 'affordable' homes - the lowest since 1945. But between April and September 2011 there were just 454; 259 for social rent and 195 for low-cost home ownership.

In the North West no affordable homes were started. In the eastern region work started on just one. Perhaps Londoners should celebrate the 56 social rented homes started in the capital?

The threat of redundancy, falling pay and the prospect of rising interest rates also contribute to the prediction that the average age of first time buyers will rise to 40. Many who do buy struggle to pay their mortgage.

Will banks actually increase lending on the basis of the government's mortgage underwriting? Instead, profit-seeking lenders are likely to redistribute a fixed pool of mortgage funds from one set of borrowers to another to mop up the guarantee.

The government will also offer public land to building firms - on a build now, pay later basis - and look to make it more profitable to become a private landlord.

Private landlords

But lack of affordable housing means more people are already stuck in private rent homes, paying rising rents and knowing landlords can boot them out as they choose.

Not only do 1.5 million of these homes fail the government decent homes standard, 71,000 homes are actually dangerous and had serious 'Category 1' hazards.

Rising rents, cuts in housing benefits and further attacks on council housing spell distaster.

Official figures show homelessness up 10%. Every day 400 more young people face life on the streets. Almost half of homelessness agencies are turning away young, childless homeless people due to a lack of resources. The number sleeping rough in London is already up 32% on the whole of last year.

The Con-Dems fear the political blowback from their cuts. Cameron and Clegg have been shown walking around sites talking about the 'need to build'.

The government has said it will restore 10% of the cuts to housing spending announced in last year's budget.

But last year's cuts amounted to 70% of spending on housing and were supplemented by housing benefit cuts.

In reality, the extra money is designed to help their friends in the banks and building firms.

The Socialist Party's demands for real action include:

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
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In The Socialist 7 December 2011:


Socialist Party feature

Con-Dems pile on the misery - 'Enough is enough'


Socialist Party editorial

Eurozone crisis - capitalists have no solution


Workplace news and analysis

Cuts and misery - it doesn't have to be like this

Socialist MEP supports public sector strike

"The genie is out of the bottle"

30 November strike: a historic day!

Building a fighting union - interview with Steve Hedley

Defend the JIB, victory to the sparks!

Reinstate Paul Kelly: Solidarity with Portsmouth RMT

Workplace news in brief


Socialist Party news and analysis

Tory sleaze is back!

Reading the riots

All in it together

Them & Us


Climate change

Climate change and extreme weather


Housing crisis

Homes Crisis: Fund housing need - not fat cat greed!


International socialist news and analysis

Portugal: Build on the general strike action

Ireland: Resist latest austerity attacks

Tamil Solidarity: Gearing up for 2012

Brazilian socialists remember Socrates


Socialist Party reviews

Theatre review

When workers planned production: the Lucas Aerospace plan


 

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