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The Pied Piper of Housing

 
April 3rd 2015
 

Any event that highlights the tragic state of housing and homelessness in the UK is to be welcomed. On 17 March, around 2,300 activists from across the country converged on Methodist Central Hall in Westminster to hear solutions from all the political parties – and just about anybody with a vested financial interest in housing. This was the Homes for Britain rally. Reflecting the management of the event by the National Housing Federation, many were housing association employees, who earlier had floated an eight-square-metre inflatable house above the London skyline on Hampstead Heath, bearing the slogan ‘An affordable home shouldn’t be out of reach’.

Well, the hot air didn’t stop there. The Pied Piper of private home ownership was hailed again and again as the solution to the ‘crisis’. A mass amnesia seems to have occurred, with everyone ignoring or conveniently forgetting that it was this that had caused the crisis in the first place.

It’s a fairy-tale without a happy ending. The government subsidises PRIVATE construction companies to build more new homes – so-called social housing, but also for sale and allegedly affordable. PRIVATE banks lend money to everyone and anyone with the right to buy, and when they can’t afford repayments or they sell their property on for profit, it falls back into the hands of the PRIVATE sector and we are back to extortionate rents, appalling conditions and a growing homelessness.

And there are frightening signs that this story is about to be retold. Under John Major’s government, some housing association tenants were able to buy their homes under a scheme called ‘right to acquire’, which offered tenants very modest discounts and applied only to homes built or acquired after 1997. The new fairy-tale, sorry ‘plan’, is to make all 2.5 million housing association homes eligible for sale at increased discounts – 30% has been suggested by the Centre for Social Justice – all to be funded by the state, with the help of the banks of course.

Britain suffers from a crisis of social demand not private supply, and what links these two is home ownership. There are 1.5 million unoccupied buildings in the UK – of which an estimated 700,000 are empty homes. There are 1.8 million people on social housing waiting lists. Yet already Boris Johnson and other pantomime villains have bought the fairy-tale of right to buy and scurried after the Pied Piper’s whistle. This may be the goose that laid the golden egg for some, but for the 60,000 stuck in temporary accommodation (and that’s just in England), it’s a bloody nightmare that seems to never end!

 
 
 

 

Contents

New arrivals hit the streets

Soup Run Forum

Web only: Emergency Islington shelter remains open during sub-zero temperatures

Chairman of the board

Rest in peace - in memory of lost friends

Prince poses

Starter pack boost

Wearing a jacket to beg?

Teens found guilty of killing Ralph Millward

The Passage withdraws service "as a last resort"

New learning centre for Glasgow

iHobo game causes controversy

Auckland extends ban on rough sleepers

Homeless interrogation

Affordable housing development opens in Edinburgh

Who decides?

Credit unions

New counts are optional

Nobby on stage

I will never forget you, my people

London homeless services in limbo over ?Ǭ£3.28m cuts

Disused night shelter re-opened for winter months

Coventry Cyrenians forced to cut services

London hub success for new rough sleepers

Crisis Skylight in Birmingham - a year on

Residents look ahead to staff upheaval

Midland Heart report

Labour call for hefty council tax levy on empty homes

Stik pic for the American Church

Lottery grant means new opportunities

Mungo?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s launches women?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s campaign

Homeless people forced into slavery

Homeless couple marry in Australia

Number of homeless in Southend underestimated

Basic banking for all

NSNO expands into west London

Scottish homeless applications drop by 19 per cent

Miami cannibal

Invisible People film UK homeless

The demilitarised zone in North America’s drug war

2012 - the year of the right to permanent accommodation in Scotland?

Crisis at Christmas

The Pavement is recruiting

Rough sleeper donates $250 to charity

Food voucher scheme scrapped

Commemorating friends and companions

Human rights for all

First person: Gemskii on regaining control of her life

The shades come off

Upfront: spikes

Comment: Spikes are the least of your worries

Opinion: All up in smoke?

Heartbreak Hotel, episode 4.

The Pied Piper of Housing

March for the Homeless

Being homeless doesn't mean you can't vote on May 7

The vulnerability ruling

The Queen’s speech

Criminalising homelessness

116-bed hostel for young homeless to close in Southwark

Sponsor a bed and rebuild a life

Hipsters neutralise anti-homeless spikes

What the Brexit will happen now?

Anti-homelessness protesters threatened with eviction, jail by Manchester city council

Showing our impact

Rebirth

The birth of the North Gower Action Group

A pianist, an artist, a dog called George and a new homeless app

Living water

Midwinter blues?

Councils back change in law to tackle rising homelessness

Having problems with your JSA?

Mayoral hustings on homelessness

Skippering

A major step in reducing homelessness?

Liverpool Police homeless curb beggars belief

Charity begins at home?

Legal aid charade

Surviving the streets – by those who've done it

Stop the scandal

Glasgow homeless services at risk

Bill gives councils legal duty to stop homelessness

Homeless Grenfell survivors afraid of deportation

Remembering those who have died in the past year

 

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