IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

Build as if it was the 50s

01 December, 2017

• I’M sure that many residents, especially the tens of thousands who live in private rented accommodation, followed with at least some interest the Chancellor’s Budget speech last Wednesday for any clues that the Conservative government might finally make it possible for more homes to be built, which would eventually reduce the upward pressure on rents.

Unfortunately, the measures that the Chancellor announced fall far short of what is required. It makes no sense to continue to restrict the ability of councils to borrow money at what are still historically rock-bottom interest rates (the Bank of England base rate is 0.5 per cent) in order to build houses.

The new homes would pay for themselves immediately, either in rental income from tenants or in savings on housing benefit now paid to private landlords.

As numerous politicians have tried to explain to our deaf government, there is a fundamental difference between borrowing to pay for current expenditure, such as salaries, and borrowing as an investment.

The other element that is missing from Conservative Party policy is a willingness to abandon the destructive policy of allowing council tenants, and even housing association tenants, to buy their properties at discounted prices.

It makes no sense for councils to spend public money on social housing when the tenants can buy the properties at a discount within just a few years.

We need a massive programme of social housing building on a scale not seen since the 1950s.

But this time we have the luxury of building to much higher standards, aesthetically and environmentally.

The next generation of homes must be well designed, well insulated, equipped with solar panels wherever possible, and built to last at least several hundred years, as much of the existing housing stock in Islington has done.

JONATHAN WRIGHT
Islington Green Party

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