Social Housing

A brief summary of historical social housing

David Lloyd George began a massive social housing program because he was appalled at the condition of conscripts in world war 1.  His declared policy of ‘homes fit for heroes’ led to the Town Planning Act of 1919, which set Councils on social housing programmes funded by the tenant, rate payers and taxpayers.

These houses were usually good quality solid builds with bathrooms, generous gardens, and as few as 12 houses per acre!!  For most this was a huge improvement of the privately owned slums they came from.

By 1933 ALL councils were required to compulsarily purchase slums from private landlords in a slum clearance programme and build affordable housing for the poorer workers. In city centres much of the slum dwellings were replaced with 3 – 5 storey flats.

At the end of the 2nd world war we had a massive housing crises. It was estimated over 750.000 homes were immediately needed. This was central to the Labour Party policy when elected to government in 1945,  and they embarked on a massive programme of social housing building.

By 1955 there were national league tables of council house building and councils engaged in fierce competition to join the leaders.

The percentage of people renting their home from the council rose from less than 10% in 1938 to 26% in 1961.

The winds of Tory change

During the Tory years of the 50’s and 60’s subsidies for house building were for slum clearance only and more money was available for blocks of flats above six storeys high. So ensued the birth of the tower blocks.

Thatcher’s Right to Buy Housing Act of 1980 changed the Council’s position where they were FORCED to sell their housing stock. This halted the growth in housing supply and began the decline.

The need for social housing first begun by Lloyd George (Liberal) and expanded by Clement Atlee (Labour) in 1945 was caused by the private sector being incapable of, or not wanting to supply demand. ButTory dogma was about to change our housing direction.

For some RTB was almost a lottery win!!! With 60% discount they could purchase their home for less than £10,000, and today the value of the same home will be around or approaching £200,000.

Further, the Councils were prevented by the Conservative government of replacing those homes, even if they could with the 40% of the value received. This was a direct and open attempt to change the political face of the country – nothing to do with the national need for housing.

The 60% that the Tories ‘gave away’ was tax and ratepayers money!

Even worse, the Housing Defects Act of 1984 gave buyers the right to insist that the Council carry out work necessary to repair or rebuild their houses. Again at ratepayers and taxpayers cost.

Philosophy and effects

What was the real philosophy behind this massive change in housing policy and what have been the effects.

An insight into this can be seen in the ‘reported’ conversation between Nick Clegg and the Tory leaders when they were in coalition. Reportedly they could not understand why Mr Clegg was so concerned with social housing because it ‘only served to produce Labour voters’!

I believe that is the true philosophy – as is the practice of bulldozing social housing and building ultra high price unaffordable housing for the displaced population; a common practice in Tory run councils in inner cities. A Tory version of ethnic cleansing, In effect changing the voting habits of a borough by artificially changing the population.

How does that stand with representing the constituants???  It is a joke.  It is nothing short of corruption. And a national shame that self serving right wing Conservative councils are allowed to continue the practice.

And what is the end result of nearly 50 years of Thatcher’s anti housing provision for the less well off?

We have the worst housing crisis in nearly 100 years. A crisis produced solely by policies of the Conservatives acting in their own self interest. A housing crisis of their own making which they have absolutely no idea how or intention to resolve, because the solutions fly in the face of all they believe.

The shortage of supply cannot be resolved by the private sector because it is not in their interest to threaten prices by increasing supply.

The shortage increases prices, so our young cannot afford to get on the housing ladder, and catch 22, the Tories have sold off and stopped building social housing they could otherwise have utilised.

This has fuelled the ‘Buy to Rent’ market, making new private landlords to profit from future slums.

Little wonder more and more people, especially the young, consider the Tory Party to be toxic!

Only a Labour Social government have any real chance of solving our housing crisis.