Divide and rule?
‘Housing solutions to social injustice’ is the strap line of Commonweal Housing – seeing housing as part of the solution to help people address other issues in their lives.
Ahead of the budget and forthcoming Housing Bill we are hearing all sorts of leaked plans that will directly and indirectly impact on the UK housing market. Charging market rents for anyone in social housing earning over an arbitrary level. Reducing benefit caps by between £3-£6k which takes no account of ever rising rent and housing cost both in the social but especially the private rented sectors; proposals to sell off housing association homes, re-establishing home ownership as the tenure of aspiration. This is despite the reality that for many, spiraling costs means achieving that ambition is a pipe dream or only really achievable by the return to the days of people taking on far too much personal debt at a time when interest rates can only really rise. Alternatively we are likely to see the re-emergence of very shady lenders and companies offering to fund HA tenants to buy their homes in exchange for very dubious future housing security.
How sad is it then that we currently have a predominant political ideology in this country that, it could be said, is using housing to fuel social injustice. I have recently been hearing a number of people echo my own thoughts that we are increasingly pitching the poor against the poor in the name of austerity.
Is it just me, or is it truly wrong deliberately (or at least with full knowledge of the likely consequences of what they are doing) to take public policy decisions and make public statements that set those that haven’t against those that happen to have? Setting hard working individuals and families who have been forced in to the high cost and uncontrolled private rented sector through years of deliberate government housing and homelessness policy against those that have, through their own absolute need succeeded in getting over an ever rising bar to achieve a stable affordable home in the social sector.
Why as a society are we seeking to demonise or criticise those that have a resource that is good. Those that have a stable home that they can afford to pay for that gives them personal security and the opportunity to live the sort of life they may wish to. Instead, we are seeking to categorise such individuals and families as creaming off a public resource simply because we as a society have not provided enough such homes.
I am increasingly concerned that there is a growing ideology that seems to encourage those in generation rent to resent those that have what they would like to have, rather than turning their disappointment on those that have not invested in enough affordable housing over years and decades.
Are we experiencing a drive to the lowest common denominator rather than a more enlightened vision of seeking to deliver more of what is good?
Encouraging people to blame perceived misfortune and disadvantages in life on others who are also struggling is a dangerous political game to play. It is certainly not my definition of One Nation.
Top image © Christian Senger