Wednesday 1 April 2015

Home sweet homes

Britain has a housing crisis with record levels of homelessness and long waiting lists and a national shortage of housing but none of the parties have an adequate policy for dealing with it. Housing used to be a major election issue with all the parties promising bigger building rates. Now it's an embarrassment partly because neither major party in power has built enough houses, both have brought the building rate down to the low levels of the 1920's which is no record to be proud of.

Labour promises a higher build rate which will be a major boost to the economy and to jobs in construction but says little on the major problem of building council and social housing.This is crucial because we need far more public housing for rent for the increasing proportion, currently around two fifths of the electorate who can't afford to buy at this level of prices and wouldn't get a mortgage in any case. What are they to do unless we build more public housing for rent as Labour government's always did up to 1979?

The reason for this ominous silence is that public spending will be necessary to pay for public housing and we don't want to be accused of higher public spending.There are ways out. Councils could issue council bonds to raise money That would count against public debt but it's perfectly open to fiddle it off the public sector borrowing requirement  as both parties have done with private finance initiatives which are far more expensive. We could also use money from quantitative easing provided it goes for major contracts or to the Homes and Communities Agency which is presently starved of cash with proper terms of payback. Why not?

Tory policy is horrifying in its stupidity. They've stoked a housing price boom by not building and by throwing dosh at demand with help to buy but doing nothing about supply.Now they propose to make things worse by selling off the stock of the housing associations by extending the right to buy at a huge discount to their properties .  That will bankrupt the associations,,decimate their stock and create the same mess as right to buy has done with the council estates where so many of the houses sold have been bought up by landlords to let at higher rents than were paid to the council..The Scots have had the good sense to stop this.

Labour proposes to regulate private rents and give tenants more security. The Tories don't.They are prepared to subsidise higher private rents with housing benefit and encourage those who cash their pension pots to put the money into buy to rent.They promise to build more cheap jack starter homes but have broken their 2010 pro,ies to build a new council house for everyone sold as they will any promise to make Hiusing associations do the same why their stock is raffled off..

All told only the Greens are offering a housing policy which makes any sense and they won't get in.

When one poll (the Mail) puts the Tories 4% ahead and another (Sunday Times) puts Labour ahead by the same amount. Deduct the 2% margin of error from both and they're neck and neck.That means Labour is going to win. The slight bias in the electoral system caused by the fact that we have more smaller majorities favours us  and should put us slightly ahead as the largest single party but even if we're not  we will be helped by the fact that the Tories  will find it more difficult to find partners or supporters of a minority government than Labour.

The LibDems will lose half their seats so they're once bitten twice shy. They can't accept either a referendum on EU membership ( which they once supported) or the Tory dislike of the EU..The Scot Nats who will be the largest third party won't support them but are prepared to back us on confidence and supply so that a Mc Labour pact is possible and would put some backbone into Labour since the SNP is to the left of us. The Welsh Nats would follow  and the Ulster unionists will support anyone.

So Bingo McLabour rules. OK which is the best way of maintaining the union since  such a government will give the Scots what they really voted for : Devo Max, autonomy just short of full Independence, the kind of thing which if the Tories hadn't frustrated it 125 years ago would have kept Ireland in  the way Parnell and Redmond really wanted. Lord O'Donnell (who should shut up) is wrong.It won't endanger the union but create a better one

Can't be bad -that's a result to look forward to. Fight to win but know that if you don't you'll still win !
The Times, which has become disgracefully partisan  and lost its sense of balance, warns that the Labour left will frustrate Miliband's proposal for cuts. That shows that the Laboir Party still has a soul. Why though don't we know if anyone at all in the Conservative party will frustrate Osborne's proposal for eve more massive cuts? Are they all blue lemmings? Or just insane?
Election. Reporting is getting a bit stale and repetitive already. Never have so many struggledso hard to whip up so little excitement among so few.

Sent from my iPad

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