Monday, 14 October 2013
Whatever happened to the right to buyers?
The council house sell off was the worst event to befall the UK since the Beeching axe of the railways.
This meme runs virtually unchallenged through politics today. Even the Tories, who once had
private ownership as the SPQR Eagle atop the standard of their all conquering 1980's legions are less keen to talk about it today.
Mainly, one assumes, as house building has not kept pace with demand. And that the sale of council houses saw the 'profits' ploughed into anything else but more housing.
That is not a surprise. The idea was not to give tenants a house and then build another one for some else. It was to remove people from state dependency for their property and, as a bonus, turn socialists into capitalists through asset transfers.
Now..The thing that I genuinely do not understand is this. Why has selling the council houses resulted in a national social housing shortage? Selling the council houses should have had nothing to do with this.
Mrs Q - council child, family of 7, 2nd generation, Irish immigrant family, does not live in the council house her dad bought in 199x.
He lives in it. With her youngest sister.
If the family had decided against buying that home in 199x, as they very nearly did, he would still be living in it. Just not as the owner. The net effect of this house sell off on habitation and housing stocks was nil. All that happened was the council no longer had the house, but also no longer had a family to house within it.
So..where does this idea that the sell off was responsible for the housing crisis come from ? If anything, it must have lowered house prices, during the sell off. When cheap homes were being dished out by local authorities at below market value.
Unless all the people who bought their homes subsequently decided to rent them out, or sell them on to the private sector and then moved back into social housing, there should have been no effect on housing at all. The vast majority of people that bought those houses, still live in them today. Or their descendents live in them, which they would have done anyway.
Mrs Q's youngest sister would have an automatic right to that 3 bedroom terrace if the old man passed away through her continuous residence there since her birth. Or, if they had chosen to remain at the family home, one of the other 4 siblings could claim the right to occupancy.
The fact the sell off money did not go towards building more social housing is kind of irrelevant. Because if those houses were never sold in the first place, the numbers of people currently living in local authority housing would be higher.
Isn't it only those who bought, and then died and who's children would have not had any need of social housing, but inherited a house to sell, contributed to the reduction in social housing availability?
And those numbers must surely be relatively small.
Is not net immigration and a failure to build more housing to accommodate a rising population to blame? The changes in living arrangements, divorce rates, the rise of single parent families and an increase of around 10 years in UK life expectancy since 1980, really to blame?
So..have I missed something so blindingly obvious that I must remove this post in embarrassment?
And is it that 'the Great British Sell Off is responsible for a lack of current affordable and free housing' is a myth?