Build Houses!

The struggle for housing and the London demonstrations focus the capital centred economy versus the pro-social economy. The worsening conditions due to the imposition of bedroom tax and unaffordable accommodation are bringing about a growing contradiction between the rich and poor. The growth of the market feeding the super-rich, distorted by foreign monopoly capitalist property speculators has exacerbated an already acute housing crisis.

In the first place the Con/Dem coalition, supported by Boris Johnson’s London Conservative Mayoral Authority has trumped Public Right over Social Right to allow such a fiasco in London. The distortion in the market is not limited to London, but other areas like Oxford are also becoming affected.

Ideological and political causes are not limited to policies alone. These policies of direct support for a privileged elite with the concept of trickle down benefits for the majority have long been exposed as bankrupt. The underlying crisis, though, has been around for a long time.

Governments have been fulfilling a strategy over a long period of to eradicate public house building in favour of private ownership of land and property. Right to buy schemes in the eighties depleted housing stock. Property rights have been enshrined in constitutional documents passing from feudal and capitalist societies. The twentieth century passed certain privately owned and controlled real estate into public hands but the reversal of fortune has taken place and has begun wholesale of transfer and redistribution back into the hands of a few. A counter offensive on the basis of rights to housing is required with a counter strategy.

Apart from this, denial of the need for essential public building programmes to reboot and maintain an economy in recovering from slump, is flat lining any economic recovery. House building provides jobs and creates skills through apprenticeships and consumer spending ability to boost demand.

The reasons for this crisis are clear. Council house building has ground to a virtual halt. Housing stock is depleted in key areas and housing associations and private building companies are not in any position, nor socially desire to solve the problem.
London needs around 63,000 new homes each year but mostly private developers are building only a third of these.

As house prices rise above people’s wages, they are forced into the private sector where they face soaring rents, poor conditions and parasitic letting agents.
There is a need to put a stop to the demolition of quality council homes and their replacement by expensive private developments, the introduction of rent controls, the scrapping of the bedroom tax and benefit caps, secure tenancies for all and a national programme of council house building.

The Labour Party has committed only to building only 200,000 homes a year by 2020.
Council housing has served the country well, and saw 30 per cent of British people living in a council house in the 1970s.

It is a public asset, providing decent, affordable and secure housing that pays its own way.
Council housing should be available to all on the basis of social need.
Five million people are currently on the council house waiting list. We need a government that is prepared to implement a bold housing plan for the whole country.
This must be based on building or renovating a million council houses a year for five years, reinstating local authority direct labour organisations and ensuring local authorities are properly funded.

There’s plenty of surplus public land, which could be used for this purpose.
Let’s return to a vision of urban environments, which serve their communities and understanding the need for local authorities to own the land and control the planning process.

Let’s end the enforced sale of council houses to housing associations, which have been transformed from locally accountable charities into big businesses.
Let’s end the hated bedroom tax, reintroduce proper rent controls and end the right to buy.

Housing provision is a national issue, which is rising up the political agenda. With sufficient political will we could finally eradicate homelessness in Britain.

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