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Con-Dem housing measures - in 'the thick of it'?
The government has announced a package to revive house building, including 'guarantees' for new homes said to be worth £10 billion. Developers and some of the big 'social' housing associations welcomed the package. Even housing charity Shelter approved.
But some in the press speculated about a panic to find a good headline for Mark Prisk, the new housing minister, being behind the measures - shades of 'The thick of it'.
There is plenty of bad news to divert attention away from housing and these measures will do nothing to help the housing crisis.
The proposals loosen planning laws meaning it is easier for developers to build on greenbelt land or to damage public amenities. Requirements on developers to provide affordable homes are also to be relaxed. You can see why developers would welcome this; easy profits!
But developers are already sitting on 'land banks' with planning permission to build over 400,000 homes. At the current rate of construction it would take developers three and a quarter years to clear the backlog by building all of the new homes local authorities have signed off.
In London alone there are 93,000 houses with planning permission which haven't been started or are stalled by developers. In reality developers are hanging back until the prospects are best to make a killing.
The Con-Dems inherited house building at an historic low from the previous Labour government and responded by slashing spending on social housing. Rather than the private sector rushing in to fill the gap, house building has continued to spiral down with indicators that this will get worse.
Figures from the House Builders Federation show social housing planning approvals fell 41% between the first and second quarters of 2012. The problem isn't red tape, it is the refusal of banks to invest, the unwillingness of private developers to build and the inability of would-be homebuyers to buy, given pay cuts and job insecurity.
The credit boom prior to the banking crash is over and ordinary people are paying the cost. According to Shelter three-quarters of people say they would like to own a home within the next two years but the average deposit is £27,000, more than the average person earns in a year!
On current trends, just a quarter of households will own their home with a mortgage in 2025. The reality is that home ownership is a distant dream for many while private sector rents are soaring and 200,000 families live in overcrowded housing.
New figures from homeless charity Crisis shows homeless applications up 27% in London and rough sleeping is up by a massive 43% in 2011/12 compared to the previous 12 months.
The media talks about these measures being a part of the government's 'plan B' to revive the flatlining economy. We need plan S! Take over the parasitical banks and major building companies; draw up a socialist plan of production based on people's needs and engage unemployed building workers to meet housing needs thorough a massive programme of construction and renovation.
In The Socialist 12 September 2012:
Fight against austerity
Socialist Party news and analysis
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party feature: TUSC
Socialist Party youth and students
Socialist Party workplace news
Fighting NHS cuts
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
Reviews and comments