Tuesday, 9 August 2016

An angry rant on the state of housing in London (and most likely elsewhere in the UK)

This was in reply to a friend's facebook comment about salary requirements on rentals:

If your rent is much more than 50% of your income you're going to really struggle unless, at the very least, bills are also taken care of or you plan to overcrowd the flat.

The fact that rent is so high in the first place is the real problem. The government has repeatedly said that it was going to have the private sector build more - although most companies have simply opted to build very high value properties that also aren't going to work for those on low incomes. Social housing could help, but so much of it has been sold off - especially in London - that waiting lists are extremely long.

The Tories have been ideologically opposed to social housing so they're not likely to help the situation and instead seem content to build £450k "starter" homes. Even New Labour was at best luke warm about it. I think it's worth pointing out that Tony Blair made a personal fortune from the property market representing a blatant conflict of interest.


Which, incidentally, is one of the many reasons people have decided the Labour party needs to shift away from its previous status quo.

 The current government and their contractors still have yet to deliver their Ebbsfleet settlement and judging by the view when I go past there between London and Chatham progress is very slow - apparently their target is 300 homes to be completed this year out of 15,000 in total.

Gentrification is also a substantial issue, especially with welfare caps coming into force soon which will almost certainly displace poor sections of the population. In 2014 it was reported by the BBC that over 80,000 residential properties were left unoccupied (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-28349374).

All this while homelessness has doubled over the period of Tory government and mayor in the capital. Sadiq Khan seems to have become a bit quiet on trying to solve the issue and it may simply be that as mayor he doesn't have the power to resolve it.

I'm very disappointed that the Northern Powerhouse project appears to have been canned (although it did appear to be mindbogglingly incompetently managed) as a second strong city I believe is necessary to "take the load off" London for people who want to have the kinds of career prospects you often only find in London and other international capitals.

 The situation as it stands in my opinion represents decades of failure, an ideological obsession with increasing house prices and the frankly arbitrary privatisation of everything (also frustrating: when this happens in the context of a single-payer "market") - progressively making it harder and harder for people to get affordable housing. At best, the situation is incompetence - at worst it is a cynical attempt to keep artificially extracting value from the property market at the expense of ordinary people.

And breeeeaaaathe.

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