Liberal Vision on why Simon Hughes is wrong on right to buy
07/08/2010 8:12 pm
Very good article on the laughable Simon Hughes' recent outburst by LibDem think tank Liberal Vision. They should just boot him out of party and tell him to go and join the SWP instead:
"Less than a week after criticising the Prime Minister for making up housing policy on the hoof without consulting coalition channels, Simon Hughes is campaigning for an option for Councils to suspend the Right to Buy scheme. This would be a bad idea.
Right to Buy, the facility for Council tenants to buy their homes, before it was a Conservative Policy was supported by the Liberal Party, whose 1950 manifesto states:
“Housing: The main plan is, first to get people decent living conditions and then to give them the chance to become owner-occupiers, even in Council houses and flats”
Simon’s motivation is to ensure more Council homes remain Council homes in order to maintain the social pool and reduce waiting lists.
But stopping the right to buy does not increase the housing stock, it just increases the barriers between the social and private sector, ensuring that it is harder for aspirational tenants to move on. The Liberal Democrats have campaigned for some time for there to be more links between RTB receipts and new build or regeneration.
Right to Buy also ensures mixed communities. Tenants sell on, young professionals and families move in. Ending the scheme would means needs-assessments were the only condition for tenancy. A recipe for concentrating social problems.
I think it strange that some self-defined social liberals campaign rigorously for mixing pupils in schools through lotteries and LEA selection, but think in housing communities are better segregated. Make your minds up.
Simon’s long-term vision is also questionable. Bermondsey already has one of the highest percentages of social housing in the country, the London Borough of Southwark is the UK’s largest landlord. That means it also has some of the highest demand for more.
But the conclusion of endlessly responding to that demand is to continually increase the percentage, concentrating social problems and poverty across entire areas not just estates. That in turn reduces money coming into an area, spent in the area, local employment and the tax base.
In that regard, as has been said previously, what Bermondsey needs most is mixed housing and business parks as part of a sustainable economy strategy. Diversity and opportunities not homogeneity and subsidies.
What Simon’s proposal would mean instead is ongoing polarisation. Aspirational Councils wouldn’t use the power, left-leaning Councils would see it as an opportunity to gerrymander wards. How Bermondsey got into such a mess in the first place."
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07/08/2010 9:53 pm
the libdem have cornered themselves in a no win situation.
They will be blamed for everything the conservatives get wrong.
and if the conservatives get anything right, unlikely as it might be, the libdem will get no credit at all.
For the libdem is a lose-lose situation. They should never got in the coalition with either conservatives or labour, but provoked a new election. Only then they would have gained more votes and more influence.
08/08/2010 9:52 pm
This should be a debate that runs and runs; but if Cameron gets his way of throwing out the aspirational from council homes then effectively right-to-buy will have been terminated anyway.
It would be useful to see some research / stats supporting some of the key points in the thread starter:
"But stopping the right to buy does not increase the housing stock, it just increases the barriers between the social and private sector" - what barriers between ss and ps are increased in this way?
"Right to Buy also ensures mixed communities" - says who? If an estate has all of the family houses sold and only the flats left as rented, is this a positive mixed community model?
"Tenants sell on, young professionals and families move in." Does that mean that social tenants do not have families? Other posters have suggested that socail tenants only exist to have families - can these two viewpoints reconcile? What evidence is there that young professionals buy the houses from those exercising Right-to-Buy (other than on rent-to-let mortgages so they can divide them into pokey flats or rent them by the room - normally after the RTB tenant has been reposessed)?
Now as the quoted content comes from a professional researcher with access to government resources I am expecting there to be something to back up the claims made.
09/08/2010 0:06 am
"What evidence is there that young professionals buy the houses from those exercising Right-to-Buy "
I did. As did many people I know. LV are correct and all the evidence is there to support that view. With two thirds of tenants on benefits don't you think there should be at least someone in work on the estate? That "someone" almost always turns out to be the leaseholders...
"if Cameron gets his way of throwing out the aspirational from council homes then effectively right-to-buy will have been terminated anyway"
Yes, you're right. Call Me Dave really is being a pratt on this one...
09/08/2010 10:19 am
True ILAG, but you are only one person. It is true that you are a good example of the point. Whether your views are agreeable or not, you are vocal for your area and your peers in the way that meets your perspective. In communities where such vocalism is encouraged the strength of the community can achieve wonders. That ability need not be tenure specific though.
But how common are you; how many people like you have bought up the former local authority homes from their right-to-buy predecesor? How many professional incommers are there to the former local authority estates, when you yourself claim that the vast majority of people living in the homes remain the original right-to-buyers?
My percepetion is that sadly you are not common but instead the ex-la homes have been repossessed, sub-divided, and rented out to transiatory tenents at bloated rents. What would be interesting here is to know what evidence was used by the professional researcher who generated the article quoted. Our views and perceptions differ on the outcome of Right-to-Buy, but it would be great to know the facts so that we could know which of our views is the most common (I avoid saying right because I recognise that your experience is valid, as you are living proof, as am I who has witnessed the other perspective.)
09/08/2010 12:20 pm
Right-to-buy has got to make a comeback.
Given the size of the national deficit, created by spending £37bn on decent homes work, it's going to be extremely tempting to adopt a progressive stance and sell the stock to the stakeholders.
The writ of tenant empowerment must run to housing associations too, as promised in previous Conservative manifestoes. RTB will strengthen the hand of tenants and rejuvenate communities.
09/08/2010 2:38 pm
If you believe that the national deficit was created by decent homes then you obviously have been off-planet for the past couple of years. Welcome back, and you may want to look at every other major world economy that is also in deficit for the same reason as this nation. If you are interested then look back through the bast century and see how much higher the deficit was from 1920 through to 1970, 5-times higher at its peak.
And who Anon is going to buy the homes if anyone able to afford them will have to move out into the private sector. This is not a bad thing in itself as TIS and DIYSO showed, but the difference in those schemes was that it was not compulsory, you did not get evicted for being successful.
Right-to-buy does not cure the housing shortage, nor the economic position of the nation.
09/08/2010 3:16 pm
So you don't think that the £37bn spent on decent homes - £18bn more than forecast - doesn't figure in the country's £160bn annual deficit?
And you don't think that selling housing assets, especially to the existing tenants, couldn't play a vital part in reducing the country's deficit.
Given rents at £100 on week on average the value of a property is just £100k. Assume however the property has a real market rent of £200 a week then it could be sold for £200k.
Well, bung in a £50k discount to the tenant and your ahead by £150,000 which could be returned to the treasury to pay off that £160bn.
09/08/2010 3:37 pm
If only real life were that simple.
Be sure to share you thoughts with the Americans, and all of Europe, I'm sure they will be thankful for your saving of all capitalist kind.
Its a shame they never had you to call on through the 1950's when debts 5-times higher were cleared whilst building new homes, hopsitals, schools, communities and livelihoods. Just think what could have been achieved through those austere times if there has been such financial acumen to call upon.
Raising funds to clear debt by selling off assets is, for the greater part, the single largest contributor to the world-wide financial crisis suffered. Britain's excessive zeal in selling off of state assetts left it the most exposed to the financial calamity, but the shere size of the economy is the reason why it did not sink to the levels of the likes of Iceland.
Solutions include, investment, wealth creation from growth, nationalisation to preserve assett worth, financial control and regulation. Extended to housing then the last thing to do is sell off the stock. Build more, bring stock bask into national ownership, exercise rent and expenditure control.
When will the right learn that Thatcherism/Reagenomics has bought the world to a shuddering failure. It is crucial to move forward with a sustainable alternative model, else the undemocratic tendency will fill the void that results.
Thus, sickening as it may be for some current thinking, Hughes is right again.
09/08/2010 4:17 pm
I think you'll find that selling off assets to pay off debts is the first thing that any enterprise does when it's in trouble.
Just look at BP.
To keep spending - or investing, as you like to call it - leads to Carey Street. Does anybody in this day and age believe that nationalisation is a good thing. Certainly not anyone in the Labour party. And anyone with half a braincell is naturally suspicious of regulation because you start with a good idea and you end up with identity cards and Ripa. Rent and expenditure controls have been tried - yet again by a Labour government. The prices and incomes policy, as it was then termed in the 1970s, failed.
All of that stuff proved to be socialist twaddle.
Where does the individual figure in your progressive state solution?
09/08/2010 5:03 pm
Did you not notice the part nationalisation of the Banks last year?
Which half a brain cell was Mervyn King using when he called for greater financial regulation? Perhaps Mr Osborne's half a brain cell caused him to lambast the previous governments can Chancellors since Lamont over deregulation? Did your half a brain cell argument make you feel really good about yourself. I do hope so as it added nothing in support of your puny point.
Was Mr Heath so very left-wing when he followed policies of regulation, including rent regulation, through his government. Yes, Tory governments have followed different solutions previously, just like Blair spent his time in office wearing Margarets trousers. you'll find that the pre-Thatcher years were considerably different to have lived through than they are painted in the spun-stories of modern media.
It appears that you media driven venom has little real world understanding, nor factual basis. Just proclaiming policies as socialist and thus bad may work in your little debating club, but it does not really match up to the wider debate ongoing in society.
Hopefully you will be able to transcend the left camp right camp drivelling falsehoods and come to investigate and understand reality one day.
To answer you final point - where does the individual sit in my progressive state solution - at the centre, at the edge, completely in control. The individual and how s/he works with other individuals to form a mutually working solution is absolutely crucial to a society that can suceed sustainably. Upward decision making rather than centre down may be more complex and take longer in some cases, but it is most likely to deliver workable and lasting outcomes. Agreeing as much as possible as close to the point the decision is to be deployed is a sophisticated technique requiring trust along the line and between groups, but when used effectively has contributed to the most successful and profitable industries of our age.
Remain blind to alternatives outside of the punch and judy show our press tells you is the only realities is you wish, but do not insist that the rest of us do so Anon, its a bit shortsighted of you really.
09/08/2010 9:04 pm
To end where we came in.
Right-to-buy is a policy about the individual versus the power of the state. Specifically, it was about the empowerment and involvement of the individual. As such it was a fundamental statement of political philosophy encapsulating the finest traditions of thought going back to the Greeks.
By contrast, Progressive Solutions Required appears to articulate a view of the individual versus the state which owes more to Putin, Stalin and Attila the Hun, not forgetting some useless forgotten soul who used to hang around the Angel underground trying to flog Socialist Worker at the top of his voice.
Rejoice that this debate is over for the next three generations because whether it's the Geek or the Wonk the Red team is not going near power for some time and then only on a condition of self-evisceration of beliefs like PSR's.
Game over. Jerusalem postponed again. There's the small matter of the £160bn to pay back.
09/08/2010 9:24 pm
How far these posting drift in such short time! The finest traditions of the Greeks? Would that be the slaughtering of any child considered unfit? Perhaps it would be the exclusion of the underclass from any debate or decision, or the exclusion of women (except in Sparta of course)? Perhaps it would be the forced inslavement of those from other cities, or those considered different from ones own? What strange things to support, and the relevence to Right to Buy?
Perhaps the writer is trying to imply that by removing what was intended for the use of the many and putting it into the hands of the few, with a financial exchange to the benefit of the elite, that this somehow furthered the cause of democracy.
Meanwhile, back with Right-to-buy and ILAG excepted, has anyone, anonymous or otherwise, got a reasoned argument as to why Mr Hughes is wrong in his statement.
(Anon - if you are just going to come out with a load of ideological tribal twaddle, please save us all the bother - try and contribute to the debate, or go and join BBC Have Your Say and have a mass debate with your like minded peers)
09/08/2010 10:33 pm
Re data on RTB this appears to be in short supply. CLG state that once a property has been sold under RTB (either freehold house or leasehold flat) it has left the social housing sector. Consequently they don't gather data on what happens to these afterwards. Even LA's have patchy data on a local level. I heard a figure of 60% of RTBers in my borough as being the original tenants which is good. So the remaining 40% have been sold on to owner occupiers (good) or to buy to let landlords (not so good). Although not all RTB leaseholders who go on to become amateur landlords are bad; one I know works in States and rents his flat out to Euro students at the LSE and is not creaming the taxpayer for as much LHA as he can get. This is my experience of RTB. I have no evidence to suggest this is universal; and none to suggest it isn't. The data just isn't out there...
09/08/2010 10:49 pm
I've seen KPIs on RTBers which reckons that 100% were deliriously happy about the decision.
This compares with KPIs on tenants which show that 100% were absolutely miserable.
Further research on socialists' attitude to RTB found that 100% were thoroughly miserable, a condition made even more miserable that when they discovered the happy figures for RTBers.
The research also found that socialists were 100% happy that tenants were so miserable.
10/08/2010 0:17 am
Yes that sounds about right for socialists...
10/08/2010 10:04 am
So the simple truth is the source article is unsupported opinion. Thanks for clearing that up.
I think, plus or minus a bit, ILAG's proportional observation is probably not far of the mark ( the variance being community variations - for instance I'd suspect Essex Man and Woman were a bit more gun-ho and overextended hence there is a higher liklihood of the repossession through to rent profiteer of my own observations)
The fact that a policy so lauded has had so little impact assessment or economic evaluation is tragic really. Such a socio-econmic experience should have been observed so all could learn for the future; to either argue its adoption or caution against it.
Anon - nice try but anyone can break wind and bottle it.
I think therefore the debate over RTB will remain a philosophically challenged one. It would seem more important to think to the future therefore.
There is a need for more affordable forms of housing. That would include encouraging more people like ILAG's friend who is providing a service with a balance of income and social purpose.
10/08/2010 10:14 am
I was going to post my amazement at a reasonably grown up discussion happening yesterday, but am pleased to see now that we have reverted to type.
Is anyone actually a 'socialist' or a 'fascist' anymore? Is there not just a spectrum of opinions?
As I've said before, my view on right to buy is that it was not necessarily a bad idea but that it's big downfall was that all the money from it just vanished. If it had been used to build more housing, or even re-invested in the estates that the homes were sold on, it could have been a powerful tool. As it is, it seems to have just removed some social housing and made half the leaseholders rich and the other half miserable.
10/08/2010 11:08 am
The problem with Right To Buy keep forgetting is that NO WAY you can guarantee that any money coming from RTB will be re-invested in social housing one way or another.
You can ask for all the safeguards you like and you can give all the guidelines you like but the only thing you can be sure of is that money coming from RTB will NOT end up being used in social housing.
And that's why RTB, whether you are for it or against it, is bad and senseless for social housing.
10/08/2010 11:22 am
Money frrom RTB didn't vanish. A quarter went back to local government. The other three-quarters went back to central government.
These sums went to the credit side of the housing subsidy account which in total have always been heavily in deficit ie, social housing is in receipt of an annual subsidy for the last haf century and a bit.
Certain contributors have been touting the idea that there is a currently a "negative subsidy" to the sector, in other words, a surplus on the rents income is being paid back to the exchequer.
They don't understand how the housing revenue account work.
This is only a negative subsidy if one excludes transfer payments made in the shape of HB payments, some £12bn take that into account. Take that into account, as well as the capital investment of the taxpayer, in the shape of £37bn expended on Decent Homes work, and social housing is massively subsidised by the British taxpayer.
It has already been explained earlier by posters that RTB offers a means of offsetting these subsidies by realising in cash an asset which is not covering its financing costs.
Judging by the people who voted in the last general election, as well as the number of people who have bought their homes in the UK, again in the last century and a half, and it is apparent that home-ownership is a more desirable financial position than tenancy.
Thankfully, the posters who are against it here are in the minority of a minority in an opposition party which will not see power again for another three generations or so and then only if they have been stripped of the statist beliefs evidenced here.
10/08/2010 11:50 am
Interesting picking up on the debates from elsewhere about Norway. There the money from privatisation and from nationalised company surplus has been retained and invested rather than redirected into the pockets of a few elite individuals. By comparison I think that the description of RTB receipts having disappeared is not inaccurate.
Thankfully, I'm not a member of a party, minority or otherwise, so I do not need to chomp a partisan bit as other posters here.
On HB - anon - does the amount credited to the HRA equal the amount rebated to tenants? I think you'll find it does not as there is a negative subsidy arrangement there as well.