The policy exchange think tank makes a compelling argument, for change is needed in such a time of economic uncertainty and Britain's housing crisis could become stagnate and a generation could pass before resolve is found. The housing minister in England Grant Shapps said the proposal from the policy exchange was 'blindingly obvious' but on the other hand Former Deputy Prime Minister Lord Prescott described it on Twitter as 'sanctioned gerrymandering' (The Guardian Monday 20th August 2012 http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/aug/20/sell-social-housing-fund-homes) I believe a lot of things have to go to plan for this to follow through, planning procedures, cost of production and lack of delays, its al well and good making this suggestion but I believe its slightly flawed, I do agree with aspects but with the overall plan a lot more research would need done.
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Hosing associations have come down very hard on this recommendation to create the largest social house building programme since the 1970's' the National Housing Federation described the idea as 'fundamentally flawed', some working people cannot afford their own home and with this recommendation warns these people will be out priced even in the private market. National Housing Federation chief Executive David Orr said, 'It could effectively cleanse many towns of hard working people who simply cant afford the high prices of buying or renting privately'(Rural Services Network 21st August 2012 http://www.rsnonline.org.uk/community/flawed-plan-to-sell-social-housing)
All government has flaws, no matter who is in place, the conservatives who are in a coalition with the Liberal Democrats at this time do not benefit the poorer parts of society. From the 1980's when Margaret Thatcher was in power it seemed to be the case with social policy the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer, when Labour came back into power near the late 90's I believe they did their best to even out this unfair balance within social society, now that the conservatives are back in power they have not changed their ways, with this policy recommendation the poorest in society will unfortunately bear the effects of this.
Labour claim that the tories are failing to build social housing for the poorest people, under coalition government new social build and has falling by 91%, from 35;600 to 3,305 so for this policy think tank to suggest that 170,000 homes could be built between 2011 to 2015 is a mad suggestion giving that this 91% fall could not just be a one off for one year. Labour believe lack of planning permission and funding may not cause an upsurge any time soon. Also giving that the coalition government cut the capital grant for social housing by 63% in 2010 so why the sudden change in creating the largest social building programme since the 70's? (http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/aug/28/tories-failing-social-homes-labour)
To back up the claim of this report not helping the poor, the report suggests that it will 'raise tenants standards of living' but it does not highlight which tenants and which background they may come from, again John Prescott mentioned on twitter that the report amounted to trying to 'kick the poor out of the rich areas'(http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/08/20/policy-exchange-report-social-cleansing-council-homes-new-builds_n_1809141.html). I know in Northern Ireland we have had a divide for many years but this report seems to be causing a divide of a different sort one that could eventually have major effects on society in the future.
To back my evidence up more, Liberal conspiracy highlights how the recommendation would make the UK a miserable place to live, with conservative not noticing social housing the last couple of years why is there a sudden urge to become involved in it? It highlights 4 factors why this would make the UK a miserable place the first factor being that communities that are mixed are more at peace with themselves and could live in harmony in an easier way. The second factor being segregated communities make it harder for poorer people to commute to work and would cause a lot more congestion and emission of vehicle fumes. Third factor being that once the social housing is sold it is almost certain that all the money wont be re invested back into social housing and the final factor being that this could cause a political advantage when it comes to elections. All of this worries many parts of society who cannot afford such housing in the future. ( http://liberalconspiracy.org/2012/08/20/policy-exchanges-latest-idea-would-make-the-uk-a-more-miserable-place/)
The policy exchange asks why this idea had never been thought of before why has no one ever suggested this? Well as Jules Birch of Inside Housing explains that it conflicts with policy in the regeneration sector in areas throughout England, it would affect social divisions within education with the sale of housed 'the good schools' will become more socially divided and education opportunities will be missed by other children. Most importantly it completely conflicts with any government attempt to maintain mixed communities. (http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/inside-edge/6502506.bloglead?yearmonth=2012.08)
From my own point of view politics destroy society even if a government aims to do good for society in England there is always going to be opposition to a good deed, I believe money is good but money can also mean greed. And selling the housing would generate a great amount but I would not be too sure if that money would be re-invested back into social housing. This can be really frustrating for people especially those with financial difficulties. It's obvious that the best quality homes are not going to be the cheapest and with the conservative ideology, people from poorer backgrounds cannot be confident with selling off such a large stock of social homes. For society to be equal compromise has to be made in terms of education, type of shops available, and essentially housing and for this document to possibly cause segregation in this area then government has to take a long look at themselves before passing this through Westminster. With a coalition not only one but two parties have to see eye to eye for clarity to be reached in this issue.
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Each constituency has different priorities, so MP's are voting in by how that area lives and what is needed in the area but since the coalition began some politicians have been caught in the middle of a storm, this is especially the case for some Liberal democrats such as Simon Hughes where his constituency is full of social housing and in the past he has had very strong views in this area. But his problem is not the conservatives but his own party colleagues who may back the proposals along with the conservatives, the problem for Simon Hughes is that there is support coming from Liberal democrats such as Andrew Stunnell so Simon may have a political mountain to face in the future. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/wintour-and-watt/2010/nov/22/simon-hughes-council-housing)
Each chapter that is highlighted in the policy is more of a statement of intent rather than a certainty, chapter one does make a valid point with a need for more social housing but is there only one solution? Chapter two states that the public does not agree with expensive social housing and want more homes, this is more a twist on words than the public demanding social housing to end. Being able to define 'expensive social housing' in chapter 3 is a very vague term and for taking the expensive housing to be from the 'half way point of all properties' I believe that this ideology to be wrong. The next chapter states that '20% of social housing is expensive' is that really such a bad thing? Their proposal wouldn't really help expenditure costs or saving costs in the future. As for chapter six saying that there will be no negative effects. The way it says it 'could' build 80,000 to 170,000 homes is a very vague statement it is a massive uncertainty. The final chapter says 'wider economic effects are positive' I don't believe it is with the strategy that is set out and the fact that the policy think tank says that pushing reform though will help this process makes it even more laughable.
This talk of the 'Big Society' is a fairy tale story with the proposals to social housing and the impact of Welfare reform and the 'bedroom taxes' which means people may have to downsize their property to they are not hit with an extra charge, there may be a problem in this area given the fact that there is a lack of single social housing occupancy so people will not be able to downsize and there is a problem with the imbalance between the North and south of England with the overcrowding taking place in the south and under occupancy in the North. A blog on the Red Pepper site highlights what they believe what is happening and what they see the future to be, "a carefully planned PR operation by the Conservatives who dominate this Coalition to hide their real intentions of aggressively continuing and deepening the long-term assault on social housing and the welfare state that in many ways defined the Thatcherite project of neoliberalism." (http://www.redpepper.org.uk/how-the-conservatives-ruined-social-housing/) It is as if the conservatives have always had this plan in the pipeline and it was just a matter of time before they unleashed their idea of a better future for society, but all of society does not agree.
Overall it is clear to see my stance on this policy and my view of the possible future within society in England, common sense has to prevail at some stage, I do understand that there will be people who back this policy and have their arguments for this. Everyone is entitled to their opinion on this topic. At the same time I think it is a good thing that this was released because it has now become a hot topic and people are becoming more and more passionate about social housing, so even though I may not agree with the Think tank, they have at least put effort into the issue so it can become a serious issue and lots of debates will be held to resolve this issue. All this is possible but with another election not taking place until 2015, there may be scary times ahead for those who are the poorest in society.
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