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."