Freethinkeruk’s Weblog

UK Political weblog

Archive for the tag “social housing”

Choices

Let’s face it this country is in a mess! It’s like a ship in a raging storm heading towards rocks and the captain shouts “Hold this course!” His Lieutenant who hopes one day to become captain shouts “Hold this course but slow down a bit.” The little cabin boy can see the rocks but feeling helpless crawls into  his hammock and puts his hands over his eyes and cotton wool in his ears, holding on to a blind trust in the madness of the officers because to do otherwise would require him to DO something.

The UK, along with other Western nations, owes money, a lot of money and so it was rightly decided to reduce this debt and this is where our witless leadership went wrong. They had no one with vision or moral integrity and so they set about taking money from those who had little, those without, they believe, power, attacking the sick, the pensioners, students, the lower paid workers who actually produce the wealth that makes us the 6th richest nation on Earth. They chose not to rein in the bankers and financial directors, they chose not to go after those who avoid paying their proper share of taxation amounting to tens of billions each year because they themselves belong to, or aspire to belong, to that elite band. They chose not to save up to £200billion by cancelling the Trident nuclear weapon system which will never be used and deters no one simply because this would deprive them of a seat at the top table of the United Nations. Instead of strutting they may have to walk like the rest of humankind.

They chose not to invest in a massive social housing programme that is desperately needed for millions of our citizens and would create and safeguard hundreds of thousands of jobs. In it’s wake this would generate spending power for the workers thus creating more employment and in addition, tax revenues. A bi product would also be a likely reduction in ever increasing housing rental costs which (some) greedy landlords are reaping in such places as London where tenants are now to be evicted because of government cuts to housing benefit. Instead they chose borrowing even more to fund rapidly increasing unemployment which is a tried and tested method of keeping wage increases to a minimum. Not such a surprising choice either when many of those currently in power like Chris Grayling, are indeed wealthy property owners.

We too though have choices. Even in this poor democracy of ours we do not have to be like the cabin boy; the power ‘they’ hold is in reality, our power that we lend to them. They stick together but they are only a few, we are millions and if only we can stick together and demand a new way, a new vision, then we can take back our power and steer our ship away from the rocks, into calmer waters of fairness, justice, democracy, co-operation and peace.

But have we the guts?

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UK’s Housing & Land

The Housing shortage & Land.

The problem is that houses are seen as investments to make a profit in the future rather than homes to live in. The cost of the land on which they are built is a major factor particularly in the exceptionally high demand and therefore high priced areas of the country in, for example, the South East of England. The selling off of Council Housing in the Thatcher era contributed greatly to the present crisis. Radical measures are needed.

Suppose that ALL land became the property of the State i.e. held in trust for all of the people, then land for building on could be released at NO charge and the occupier of the building would pay an annual lease for the land based only on the amount of land and not the building on it. This would be fair to all. Following the death of the principle occupants the building then becomes the property of the State with the local authority acting as agent and becomes available for renting. This would achieve three main objectives; houses would revert to being homes rather than investments, the cost of building a new home would plummet and eventually all homes would be rented rather than bought leading to greater availability, affordability and fairness. Additionally, considerable income would be generated through the lease payments for the needs of the population. Moving to a new area or to a larger or indeed to a smaller house would, if anything, become easier. This change could be achieved in little more than a generation. As all land and property would be held in trust for the people by the State but administered locally the system would be democratically accountable.

The same principle would be applied to current landowners and businesses. On the death of the current occupiers of land or the collapse of a business, buildings would become the property of the State and a rent paid by the new tenants. Farmers for example could still pass the business on to their children thus ensuring continuity but the land would be held in common.

Of course none of this is likely to happen due to electoral resistance by the current home owners who will cling to the notion that property values will rise above inflation for ever. This cannot be as like capitalism, of which housing and land ownership is a part, depend on ever increasing production and consumerism. It is better for our future generations to seek a new way now.

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