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"Housing is a mess" says Green Party candidate"Housing is a mess" says Bill Linton. "The current system works well for the prosperous, for banks and for landlords. It works badly for young people who want to get their own home or start a family and it's a nightmare for the poor".
"For thirty years" he continued "successive governments have seen housing as an investment, an electoral bribe or a way of stimulating the economy. Always, in fact, as something other than places to live. That is why we have a housing crisis. That's why we need a fundamentally new approach".
The elements of the crisis are well-known:
Thus people on ordinary incomes cannot afford decent homes and are forced into rental accommodation that is ever more expensive and harder to find. To buy an average 3-bed house in WH a couple would need a combined income of at least £100k.
Thus, also, people on housing benefit are subject to the iniquitous bedroom tax. This is supposed to "encourage" them to move to smaller properties. Since there are, in most places, no suitable properties the real results are to drive these people to cheaper areas, like Edmonton, or simply into deeper poverty. And 40% of those effected are disabled.
A third consequence is that the high returns available from property investment encourage lots of people and banks to put their money into property rather than productive businesses. It therefore undermines the economy on which we all depend.
The housing crisis cannot be solved by piecemeal reforms. Instead it requires fundamental change. In the short-term we would (see Crumbs for London ):
We can no more base a good housing policy on unlimited growth than we can base a sustainable society on unlimited growth. It's time to change.
Flint, David, 2014: Survey of property prices in Winchmore Hill. Review of Right Move data on 25 Feb.
Meek, Barry, 2014: Where will we live? London Review of Books, 9/1/14 p 7-: "76% of all bank loans go to property and 64% of that to residential mortgages".
Robertson, Laurna, 2014: 'Boris' draft housing strategy not 'ambitious enough'. Inside Housing, 17 February 2014.
Published and promoted by Bill Linton for Enfield Green Party, both at 39A Fox Lane, London N13 4AJ