Radical action is needed to address the housing crisis, say 82% of Londoners

Londoners have spoken; 82% believe radical action is now needed to address the housing crisis (Ipsos Mori poll of 1,000 Londoners).

This week we also learned that Private landlords have bought up half of the former council homes in some of London’s poorest boroughs by exploiting Margaret Thatcher’s celebrated right-to-buy scheme.

These findings come from a report by London Assembly member Tom Copley. “This shows that Right to Buy currently represents incredibly poor value for money to taxpayers,” Mr Copley said.

“Not only did they pay to build the home in the first place, they then subsidised the considerable discounts offered to tenants and then missed out on the rental income that would have covered the build costs.”

Across the capital at least 36% of one-time council homes are now rented out privately but that proportion is even higher in some of the poorest areas.

And Tower Hamlets, where four in 10 children now live in poverty, has the highest proportion of homes that were sold through right-to-buy but are now believed to be privately let.

Who benefits from Thatcher’s Right-to-Buy, resurrected enthusiastically under David Cameron? Tax payers, who paid for council houses to be built only for them to be sold off into the private rented sector at knocked down rates? The hundreds of thousands of people languishing on council housing waiting lists? Or private landlords, who we learn this week have bought up half of London’s former council homes and are now letting them out at extortionate rents, very often subsidised by the tax payer through housing benefit?

Some London councils are actually having to rent their own ex-council homes from landlords who bought them under the Right to Buy scheme.

Copley has recommends that there should be mandatory covenants on all Right to Buy properties so they can’t be let through the private rented sector and that local authorities should retain an equity stake in any property sold.

Government policy is propping up ruthless private landlords whilst ignoring the dire housing needs of ordinary people. Last week, large buy-to-let Tycoons Fergus Wilson announced they would be evicting 200 families who are in receipt of benefits.

Fergus Wilson have been widely vilified in the press, after stating in a candid interview with Channel 4 that they knew they were condemning victims of domestic violence to return to abusive husbands.

But it’s naive to expect private landlords to act with a sense of moral responsibility towards tenants. The Government should be protecting renters but regulating private landlords to get rid of naked discrimination, debilitating rent increases and forced evictions. They should be building social, genuinely affordable housing and replacing those sold under Right-to-Buy, rather than relying on the market to provide this huge social necessity.

It’s time the Government woke up to the anger and misery being caused by their housing policies and begun to address the nation’s desperate and worsening housing need.

2 thoughts on “Radical action is needed to address the housing crisis, say 82% of Londoners

  1. I don’t agree with Fergus Wilson, but he made a valid point 50% of this tenants on housing benefits were not paying rent. Since the LHA scheme in 2008, the tenant gets the rent and they are supposed to pay the landlord, but it does not happen.

    To add insult to injury your groups says “regulating private landlords to get rid of ……., debilitating rent increases”.

    The housing benefit has not gone up. The LHA rate was frozen last year and subsequent years it will go up by a maximum of 1%. If you regulate rent, then housing benefit will have to keep up with inflation.

    Labour introduced the LHA scheme in 2008 (direct payment to tenants), it has been a problem for 5 years, so on the whole Landlords have been fairly patient.

    Councils and housing associations get their rent directly.

  2. “Tax payers, who paid for council houses to be built only for them to be sold off into the private rented sector at knocked down rates”


    Lets get a few facts straight, it was a council tenant who decided to buy their own home at these knock down prices. Any SUBSEQUENT owners paid market prices for these properties. So why blame the Private Rented Sector?. Most First Time Buyers don’t want to buy ex-council houses.

    It did not help that many council, as part of the Decent Home Scheme, told them they would receive bills of £40,000. Many decided to sell to unsuspecting owners….

    If Tom Copley thinks of the sale of Council was houses was wrong, then why did n’t Labour stop it?. In hindsight, the sale of council was a mistake, but you cannot blame Thatcher, as she did it with good intention and she wanted to life the social classed out and incentive them to buy their own home.

    During the 80 and 90s, there a lot of council homes which were riddled with crime and windows were boarded up, because it was pointless to replace, as it would get smashed in the next day….

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