This blogpost has been inspired by today's Mirror Politics morning briefing and I acknowledge my debt. You have here the Mirror text as I read it this morning, for the most part. When the wheel is as well-shaped as this, who am I to reinvent it?
'In the end almost every important domestic issue comes back to housing.
If you want to know why the economy is skewed towards the rich, why social mobility has stalled, why opportunities are curtailed and why health inequalities persist it is impossible to discuss any of these themes without reference to housing.
|This is one of the wealthiest countries in the world - and one of the most morally bankrupt?|
Having a decent home to live in should be a basic right but there are more than one million people on the waiting list for social housing.
Rent takes up 40% of our income on average, the highest in Europe where the average is 28%. This consumes money which could, for instance, be spent on purchasing better quality food. It is no
accident the poorest people have the poorest diets.
Those on low-income are more likely to live in low quality homes with short-term tenancies.
A survey in 2016 found 60% of Londoners who rent were living in homes with unacceptable conditions such as damp or vermin.
Lower income families tend to live in areas with higher levels of air pollution and fewer opportunities to play outside either because of lack of green spaces or high traffic densities.
|Do we qualify to be a decent and fair society?|
Studies have shown that people who live on streets with high levels of traffic are less likely to interact with their neighbours.
Short-term tenancies mean families in rental accommodation end up moving more often, disrupting schooling and fracturing social networks.
If you live in an area without decent public transport and cannot afford a car your chances of finding work or studying are more limited which curtails social mobility.
We are still living with the legacy of Thatcher's right to buy that saw council homes sold off but the receipts used to cut taxes and thereby used as bribes to keep the Tories in office) rather than build new homes.
Many of these properties were then sold to private landlords who rent them out at higher costs which we subsidise through housing benefit at a cost of £23 billion a year.
|Anyone disagree? Managing the housing needs of a nation is one of the tasks a government is elected to do.|
It is hardly surprising that the lack of social housing has driven up rents in the private sector.
A study by Shelter this week says private renting is unaffordable for working families on low wages in two-thirds of the country.
The Tory policy of Help to Buy, which so far has cost £12 billion, has had the perverse effect of stimulating demand while doing nothing to address supply.
Wealth is accumulated in the hands of property and land owners but our local tax system is based on outdated property values rather than wealth and therefore entrenches inequality.
There are few more crucial issues than that of housing - and it has been neglected by successive governments.
We are on our 16th Housing Minister in 18 years.'
|But it is making the rich rentiers even richer ….|
Well said, Mirror Morning briefing! It's difficult to take in all the facts in one reading so in case you missed it, note this detail above: We - the tax-paying public - subsidise through housing benefit the higher costs of renting that are now embedded in this country to the tune of £23 billion a year. That is an awesome sum of money. And it is being redistributed every year from us to the landlords of this country - the rentier class. How perverse is that! What economic and social stupidity.
I have just been back to my book: 'The Road to Corbyn' (2016) and the chapter 'The Interpreter on Housing and the Needs of the Young'. Here the Interpreter is explaining:
'Those housing benefits - paid for by the taxpayer - ended up in the pockets of the private landlords. And whilst all this was happening in the rental market, house prices took off in the private housing market as demand chased an inadequate supply. Private house-building in this land is controlled by a small group of powerful companies who have hoarded the land they could use for building new homes, but choose not to in order to keep prices as high as possible. We now have a housing crisis of the first order.'
'So what can be done?'
''Believe that the problem is soluble, and intervene in the market in the interests of the mass of the people, especially the young who face an unprecedented future of high rents and low chances of home ownership. spend more billions on housing and spend less, say, on transport … Introduce a social housing levy on every housing transaction made by the wealthy. There really isn't a problem in coming up with solutions once you accept that in a land that prizes fairness and decency, redistribution of wealth is a necessary social obligation. In such a land, all citizens grow up learning and accepting, in families and at school, that there are certain basic rights that need to be protected against the menace of an unregulated market and its vested interests.'
Jeremy Corbyn - as the PM of a Labour government committed to a socialism fit for the 21st century - will take on this housing crisis. Watch this video from 2018 to learn more.
Remember, the young people of our nation deserve better than this. They are our future.