Housing

The UK Housing Crisis: A Disaster of Tory Policy

February 16, 2017

 Tory policies are making the Housing Crisis even more terrible.

Conservative Party housing policy is directly hurting the young and poor, whilst handing money to property developers and private landlords.

Unprecedented prices combined with governmental dithering have led to brutal conditions for prospective first time buyers.

With house building at its lowest level since 1924, fewer affordable properties are available with average house prices 8 times the normal wage across Britain.

And Theresa May’s Conservative Party are making it worse every day.

The Conservative government is laughably introducing an “affordable” Starter Home scheme. However, the homes are due to be sold for up to £450,000.

This is nearly 17 times the UK average salary of £26k, making it an impossible dream for most of the population.

No legal measures have been introduced to force the large housing companies to build more properties. This has allowed property developers to restrict the number of new houses built.

There are currently more than 600,000 undeveloped plots of land in the hands of just 9 housing companies. The length of time developers take to complete a house has leapt from 24 to 32 weeks.

Shortage increases demand. Demand increases prices. Landlords and private industry profit. Average earners trying to buy lose out.

Who is profiting from this?

 

The UK’s top five housebuilders have seen annual post-tax profits jump from £354m in 2010 all the way to £2bn in 2015.

That’s almost £1.7bn undeserved profit per year for the few expensive houses they choose to build.

Regardless, these profiteering plunderers will not be expected to bear the ultimate financial burden of creating the homes they profit from.

What is the government doing to help ordinary UK citizens?

Very little of substance, it would seem. Currently, the government wants to fund projects these companies profit from by cancelling and replacing genuine forms of affordable housing such as Social Rent and Shared Ownership.
Tory Housing Minister Gavin Barwell has suggested one ludicrous idea to help out those in need: reducing minimum housing size standards so developers can build even more miniscule box rooms.

With Britain already home to the smallest home sizes in Europe, we can expect more reckless Tory deregulation to allow unscrupulous developers to get away with smaller, less healthy living spaces.

What about those who can’t afford to buy a house?

As bad as the situation is for young buyers, the 9m+ renters in the UK have an even worse situation.

With increasing numbers of people forced to rent as house prices spiral out of reach, unethical policy has allowed exploitative landlords to take advantage of the desperate.

Alarmingly, the average low income private renter forks out around half of their total household income on rent.

Landlords are taking advantage of instability and the lack of housing nationwide to force higher rents on their vulnerable tenants.

Does this effect me? Who is doing this to us?

There are now more private renters than social housing tenants, with rents in private accommodation now £74 more expensive per week than those in social housing, on average.

And that extra £74 is no guarantee of quality.

4.4m private sector dwellings were rated “non-decent” to live in, compared to around .5m public sector dwellings. They were more likely to be older, with 9 per cent having significant issues with damp problems.

Tory MPs recently defeated a motion to ensure that all rented property had to be fit for human habitation, reducing the already slim demands on landlords regarding their tenant’s health.

With good reason too, as 128 Tory MPs are landlords. That’s almost 40% of all Tory representatives in Parliament.

With landlords only making up 2% of the UK’s population, we have to ask whose interests the Conservatives are really championing.

But what about all the taxes landlords are supposed to pay?

They don’t pay as much as you think, thanks to the system put in place by MPs. To quote Generation Rent:

“Landlords can deduct the cost of mortgage interest from their income for tax purposes. On the basis that landlords have mortgages worth £332bn, and have a typical interest rate of 5%, they pay £16.58bn in interest per year. If tax were paid on this at the 40% higher rate, the Treasury would get £6.63bn per year.”

That’s £6.63bn more for the NHS, for better railways, for schools.

It’s the entire yearly benefits bill for the UK, plus another £1.7bn to offer completely free childcare for all young mothers!

This all comes as landlords make record profits, with UK landlords swiping £77.7bn each year in rent and capital gains.

And what’s worse, £26.7bn of that comes in the forms of unnecessary tax breaks and housing benefit taken from poorer tenants.

More money is being made off more tenants for less return than ever.

What can be done to combat unaffordable living caused by the Tories?

Educating yourself about housing is crucial. Organising collectively is important too.

Well known campaigns such as Generation Rent are helping disenfranchised renters and buyers to understand and resist Tory policies. Opposing disastrous policies such as Right to Buy and revenge evictions, they are crucial in helping maintain the pressure on broken Tory policy.

Supporting charities such as Shelter can help too. Vocal and acknowledged critics of current housing policy, they are often cited in media reports for their accurate research.

Supporting rent controls and the groups that advocate them is key. The overwhelming majority of British citizens support rent controls, with 77% of renters strongly in favour of it.

Even 42% of Conservative voters agree that rent controls are necessary, a direct repudiation of the Tory party line on rents. Meanwhile, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has promised to cap rents to provide more affordable living options for renters.

Another option is looking into the developments of genuinely sustainable and affordable housing. Mitcham’s Y:Cube project is building houses cheaply and rapidly, whilst passing savings onto buyers. Keep an eye out for similar projects as they appear, alongside traditional sources for affordable living such as housing associations.

The creation of a national landlord register is essential for avoiding unethical and exploitative landlords. Agreed codes of conduct and quality of accommodation mean that rogue landlords can be held to account more easily. Sign this petition if you wish to support this idea.

Please write to your MP about your concerns about housing and rents. This constant pressure can induce change, especially if you are part of a concerted, consistent campaign. Check your MP’s voting record and see where they stand on the issue before writing your focused and informed correspondence.

These contributions might seem small but they do add up.

By banding together and exerting pressure upon politicians and the feckless housing industry, whilst supporting those politicians who advocate for socially responsible solutions, we can make a difference.

Don’t let the corrupt and greedy hold the keys to housing. Stand up for affordable living!

No Comments

Leave a Reply