Rant 2: Housing Policy Concerns

Rant 2: Jeremy can’t do everything himself and the new housing Policy unveiled at the conference causes me some concern. Not because of Corbyn’s direction but because of the way that the policy is being created and the problems are not just fine tuning. Corbyn still does not have full control of the Party and it seems that the newly revealed Housing policy falls some way short of his vision. Not everyone in the higher reaches of the party share the enthusiasm at Corbyn’s success. There is still some simmering discontent from those who have only recently, grudgingly realised which side their bread is buttered.
Jeremy for several years, has said that we need to build more than a million council homes and I assume he based that figure on the number of people waiting on the housing lists. But the new housing policy does not endorse that aim. The housing lists have been manipulated by the Tories. Three years ago the Tory government tore up Council’s housing lists and started them again with new radical criteria. Without going into too much detail there are now some categories of people that can no longer be included on the housing list. The most notable example being those under 25. Before the list was restarted there were 5 million people waiting for a council house. After the new criteria were applied there were less than 500,000. Startling but true. The new list is around 10% of what was the real list was. Could be described as a dictators method of planning. Reducing the requirement to suit the number of homes they feel like building.
This is where concern creeps in about Labour’s new flagship housing policy. Something is decidedly fishy in the way that targets have been set. It appears that the Tory’s new false housing list figures have been used in Labour’s calculations. The new policy says that we will build 100,000 new council homes a year. If we consider that 3 years ago there were 5 million people in desperate need of a council house (certainly more now) building 100,000 council houses a year will never hit what is a fast moving target. That figure every year might work if the Tory’s list were correct and the target should be 500,000 homes. But using the real list it will take 50 years to fulfill the list even if it does not continue to grow. The two main issues here are that Labour needs to reinstate Housing lists using the criteria that was in force before the Tories changed it. Then having established the real housing need we must decide on a reasonable time to bring those lists down to zero. Five years seems a reasonable time to me. Housing need varies over the country so it would sem right to bring all local lists down to zero over the same period.
Maybe the Housing team will create an amazing home purchase scheme that will enable a chunk of those previously wanting council housing to buy a home. But not a solution in the short term I think. Some people want to live in a council home by choice. I am one of them. I have no wish to benefit from a profit through property price escalation that would be in reality at the expense of first time buyers.
There is another concerning issue about this new policy which at first glance looks like a big step forward for local democracy. This aspect is the introduction of ballots allowing local people to choose what type of development they want for their area. This policy could be counter productive in terms of getting more social housing in all communities. The idea of people voting for what could be gentrification does not sit well with socialism.
Labour’s housing policy needs a lot of work and we should make sure that those charged with writing it get to know how we feel. We need a policy that is going to deliver council homes to all who want them and really affordable homes for those whose ambition is to buy one.
The policy does not go far enough in terms of Housing Associations. We need to bring all the housing association homes back into local authority hands. There has been too much abuse by directors snaffling salaries of up to half a million a year. They have created service companies in the name of efficiency and pay themselves additional salaries as directors.
Lets get housing back where it belongs, under the control of a caring socialist Labour Government. Housing as a basic right, must be a vital part of Labour’s policies. We must not allow any subversive dissenters the opportunity to try and hold back Corbyn’s amazing path to power…….Tony Laborman 1 Oct 17