Wednesday, July 24, 2024
HomeCulture WarGetting council housing is like winning the lottery

Getting council housing is like winning the lottery


OUR nation is in slow motion economic collapse, edging ever closer to recession. As long term interest rates move lower, they signal that our land faces more of the same bitter medicine of the 2010s: unmanaged slump and worse living standards.

Inquiring minds seek the truth about the cause of the UK’s dire economic performance. In real terms (inflation adjusted) our GDP has flatlined for around two decades. Clues can be found in the public housing sector, where state corruption and serving of special interest groups is often at its most visible but least questioned by politicians of all hues.

‘Social housing’ (council housing rebranded) serves as a fascinating meeting of socialist dreamworld economics and the reality of physical structures. Social rents, for those who qualify, are around half market rents. This means that capital assets, bought and paid for by our citizens over the decades, are now being used at 50 per cent capacity.

The housing charity Shelter claim on their website that ‘Social Housing Works’. They are, at best, only half right. For the lucky few who access a lifetime of rent at 50 per cent of the market value, it is akin to winning the lottery. A lifetime of disguised transfer payments to them from middle-class workers. No longer forced to live in the real world, with market pricing, they can adjust their income requirements and stress levels seriously downward. For the army of government bureaucrats, employed to improve ‘access’ to these gift horses, the rewards are secure tenure followed by gold-plated pensions. For politicians, keen to show their kind and caring natures (without paying a personal penny), social housing provision represents the perfect play: Huge taxpayer costs hidden from public view and a grateful cohort of social residents who vote for their own version of Christmas at every election.

But for the taxpayer and wider society, social housing doesn’t work. At all. Highly valuable housing assets are being deployed according to the whims of central planners (and we all know how well that ends). What behavioural changes does this promote? Housing is given to individuals from whom the requirement for productivity is virtually nil. So the state-owned asset has become a liability, driving fewer goods and services for society in general and higher prices for existing goods and services offered.

Property services in the community are now being bent too. Very often public sector maintenance companies are set up to service the low-rent social housing needs. An example is in Cheshire, where the Orbitas maintenance service is now wholly owned by Cheshire East council and competing directly with maintenance companies in the private sector. But the competition is not on a level playing field. Public sector companies can never really go bust. Wages are paid from money created from thin air. Pensions are far superior to normal market levels. This means that true private sector maintenance companies are competed out of business and/or can find no staff available, because of the higher wages and better conditions on a government payroll. General household maintenance therefore becomes harder to find and much more expensive for all but the unproductive social housing dweller.

 It is clear to see that, as always, government intervention is increasing costs on Middle England. There is no need for Sherlock Holmes to investigate The Mystery of the Council Homes Gravy Train. No more obvious a reason why our prosperity and growth dives lower and lower: gifts given for electoral favours lent.

What must clearly be focused on now is the riddance of bent and corrupt practices. All public housing must be returned to the private sector. Rents must be equalised to market levels. There will be consequences for some. But our politicians must be prepared to face them square on from an ideological standpoint. Acknowledge the travails of those now forced to move to where rents are cheapest. Champion the benefits of a transition to market competition, where hard-working families who eschew government handouts can afford their rent or mortgage and repairs more easily. To state the blindingly obvious, though, the likelihood of this happening under our Uniparty seems low.

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Andy Large
Andy Large
Andy Large read law at University of Durham and runs a successful property lettings agency in the North West. He lives in South Cheshire with his family and their badly-behaved cat, Mia.

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