Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Missing the boat...

Listening to BBC Radio 4 yesterday was enlightening. It was a phone in debate on the subject of housing prices in the UK and interestingly all the usual panaceas were trotted out and aired - more "social housing", higher taxes on larger homes to pay for "social services", high house prices due to multi-home ownership, high lending by banks, not enough lending by banks, restrictions on building, etc. The only thing that no one raised was the issue of lunatic housing laws and policies that discriminate against young men and women who are employed, married (or in stable partnerships) and haven't yet got children. This becomes even more the case if they are what I shall call "natives" of these isles.

Rents are very high, especially in the Home Counties - that group of counties clustered around London - and that is, in turn, driven by the size to the mortgages the owners are carrying on the property and the demand for the available properties. Social Housing is available, but primarily is used to house ethnic minorities, single mums or multipartner families with tribes of kids to be housed. It is allocated on a "points system" so if you are employed and not in receipt of "benefits", married or in a partnership that is stable, have no kids and don't have a "social worker" supporting you, you have no chance of getting even an interview for a place on a waiting list. No one in the chat show even mentioned this.

There is a further issue here which I am in a position to know at first hand because I live in an area where the bulk of the housing is "social". This is the case of families and other permutations, who got into this hoiusing when starting out and remain in possession and occupation at rents that are definitely not "market related" despite the fact that these folk now earn ten and twelve or more times what they were earning when first allocated the home. Thus, people who can afford the "commercial" rents of places like London by virtue of being in the upper quartile of wage or salary levels, are living in houses and paying rents equating to less than a tenth of their present incomes, while others, earning a quarter or less of the salaries these lucky tenants earn, struggle to pay rents equal to three quarters of their income. It is that sort of issue which needs to be addressed and which could really make a difference. But no politician at present in Westminster is bright enough to work it out or has the balls to actually deal with it.

And as for the Whitehall W*nk*rs< they are so well protected in their Ivory Towers they wouldn't recognise the problem even if confronted with it. Its in the Rules you see - and the Minister made those. Yes, and pigs can fly.

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