As John Prescott points out in his Mirror article, “we built the council houses, subsidised the substantial discount that allowed tenants to buy and sell for a profit, then paid huge amounts in housing benefit to the private landlords who bought them.”
Meanwhile, we were losing 10 council houses for every one built.
That is not an intelligent way to use either the houses or our money.
Lord Prescott’s article suggests a series of ways in which Labour could resolve the current, Conservative-created crisis.
Could they work?
And isn’t there a serious flaw with any plan – evidenced by what happened when the Tories took over in 2010? They simply reversed Labour’s reforms.
What’s to stop that happening again, if the public is ever gullible enough to let a Conservative government back into office?
And how do we prevent it?
Theresa May told her conference she wanted to “build a better Britain”.
But she couldn’t even build a proper conference set, with first an F off then an E.
She promised to spend £2billion on affordable and council housing.
After the speech, her spin doctors had to confess that her “rebirth of council house building” would build 25,000 homes over five years . With more than a million waiting for a council house, it doesn’t even amount to a sticking plaster on a gaping wound caused by the Tories.
Thatcher’s Right to Buy, which gave huge discounts to council house tenants to buy their homes, took two million out of supply. For every 10 council houses sold, only one new one was built. Over a third of those sold ended up in the private rental market.
So as taxpayers, we built the council houses, subsidised the substantial discount that allowed tenants to buy and sell for a profit, then paid huge amounts in housing benefit to the private landlords who bought them.
When I was Deputy Prime Minister I built houses for £60,000 without a deposit or mortgage to rent or buy. These “flat pack” modular homes can be built off site and then assembled.
They’re cheap and energy-efficient, reducing fuel bills for tenants. Let’s build them on public brownfield land we own. It’s an area the size of the West Midlands.
Labour also propose private rent controls. The total rent paid to private landlords is more than double the mortgage interest rate paid to banks by homeowners.
Why not look at a living rent, with rents linked to local earnings so we can crack down on the profiteering of buy-to-let landlords?
And finally, let’s scrap Right to Buy for good. It’s a lottery for those who have a council house and we end up paying for it with fewer homes for those in need.
That’s a proper housing revolution.
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