As Her Majesty The Queen rightly says following the twentieth anniversary of 9/11, we should pay tribute to the resilience and determination of our communities.
As far as housing is concerned the important thing for government to consider is everything is going up, whilst at the same time the less well-off aren’t keeping up on a financial level.
The less well off should not be discriminated against in this way, surely?
IF we, as a capitalist society, are going to allow housing to be distributed depending simply on price, then clearly, houses left on the market will go to the most wealthy and hardly any will go to deserving people within each separate community.
This difficulty was purposefully addressed and managed leading up to and following the end of the last war by building council-owned properties available to be rented by those within society who could not afford to buy their own homes.
Unfortunately it now seem as if the less well off are being discriminated against, by the policies materialising during the more recent and longest stretch of post-war peace.
As a nation we should be turning away from this and instead move forward as an inclusive, modern and considerate society. After all, we depend on large numbers of these people to keep the basic fabric of our society operating.
Supplying council-owned properties for rent actually worked quite well over the past 45 or so years and allowed the less well of to live alongside wealthier people in strategically located council estates. However, it did result in the creation of a two class society which had its problems.
All that changed of course, after Margaret Thatcher headed up the government when shortly afterwards, she brought in the sale of council houses to tenants at discounted prices. This was not a new idea. The “Right to Buy” idea was under consideration in the late 1940s, but did not win Conservative endorsement at that time.
Although Margaret Thatcher was able to activate this policy, unfortunately, she did not incorporate a way of dealing with the subsequent and increasing wealth differential between those who were becoming increasingly richer and those remaining with the least possible levels of wealth through their own individual circumstances. Nothing was put in place to help such people following dismantling the core of the council housing estates and importantly, neither were the proceeds from the sale of council houses allocated to replace any such housing.
Practically all that’s left to house those remaining unable to afford the price of owning one’s own home is the private landlord-financed, rental sector offering mainly assured shorthold or six month initial letting contracts. That and today’s housing associations as corporate landlords but these have far too few properties to accommodate the extremely high current demand.
Falling back on private landlords to supply large scale housing in this way was never going to be the answer. It has since turned out to be every bit as bad as one might have expected it to be. It is a sort of mirror of the notorious earlier period of exploitation, which took place after the 1940-45 war when a demobbed Polish born soldier Perec Rachman (born 16 August 1919 – 29 November 1962), operated as a property speculator in London during the fifties and early sixties. His initial job was in estate agency, so we probably ought to have expected problems with lack of repairs, overcrowding, and excessive rents to return as a result of those needing so much short term housing, again involving having to rely upon private investors. That is the reason why the private rented sector still needs wholesale improvement today.
As explained there had already been severe problems with the private rented sector when Mrs Thatcher first came to occupy Number 10 in May 1979 and lasting until November 1990. Not to put in place a suitable alternative to council housing whilst effectively privatising it and whilst knowing about this recent history, appears, in retrospect, to have been a poor stance to have taken at this particular moment.
Whilst, at that time, there seemed to be no realistic alternative, nowadays there are several better options which are certainly possible and which are covered in the link to The Solution below.
Everyone can see that the private rental sector is not performing to an adequate standard, so the government should urgently be looking for an appropriate alternative. The question is not merely whether they should but which alternative should they choose?
I am saying that the front runner is to modify the way that houses in general are marketed, making this more to do with community and less to do with the purchaser’s bank balance.
A combination of planning controls together with fairer house marketing principles would allow affordability to be maintained for those who should be able to buy where they live and work. It should provide for sufficient properties not to be swallowed up by the wealthiest in society working or living elsewhere. Such a change would not be difficult to bring about in today’s world and there would be no need to build massive new municipal housing estates to house the less wealthy either.
Instead, it would simply involve setting up a new and better way of distributing housing which would be both local and community-centred rather than purely capital value orientated. If we care for our communities, this is unquestionably to way to go.
The resilience and determination of our communities is what should be nurtured in today’s world, not allowing individuals to gain ever increasing profits from the bare necessities of life for others. We should still value community, society and inclusivity just as our monarch has reminded us concerning 9/11 on the twentieth anniversary recently. Equality should be a rite of passage not a luxury.
I have set out the details of my strategy (or solution) for achieving this on this web site. The solution combines the effective use of planning controls with a more appropriate way of deciding who buys what. It is still primarily based on price of course but in a more locally resolved yet open way. A way which incorporates how we might like our communities to develop and thrive over time.
My solution would reduce the growing and progressive takeover of the more attractive parts of Britain by the wealthy and instead allow those contributing to each local community a better chance to buy a place of their own to live where they work.
The solution would favour those needing to live in certain locations over the wealthier incomer. Those who would simply like to buy a house where they work. Second homes, at concentration, would be strongly discouraged and may even be prevented when that is required.
To read about how this very special change could be put into effect, please follow the link below to the set of pages that explain this:
How to Improve Housing Markets in England and Wales.
What do you think about this idea for drastically improving the operation of all housing markets in Britain?
Constructive comments are very much welcomed.
Posted by: Peter Hendry, Housing Valuation Consultant
Author:– The House Price Virtuoso Solution