Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Pay Your Money and Have Whatever Houses You choose

The Living Working Countryside review has some illiberal proposals. Some houses are to be sold not for what the market will bear, but for less because houses are to be categorised as 'first' and 'second' homes. If the local authority and the tax authorities offer financial advantages for nominating houses in various categories then obviously any advantage will be accepted and maximised. But if an owner pays the going rate council tax and the going rate capital gains tax on any property they choose to own (something to be supported whole heartedly, why ever are these subsidies offered?), who is to restrict anyone owning whatever they like and can afford?

Is this regime seriously proposing to require owners to live in their own property? Remissions on costs can certainly be withdrawn (and won't add much to outgoings any way). But that is very different from sequestering properties and imposing usage conditions in the name of housing people who have less money than others. What happened to building council houses for those on low incomes?


Sackerson said...

It's a difficult area. So many young people can't afford houses in the rural areas where they grew up; is the whole of the South West to be a holiday let?

Anonymous said...

And I wonder what they will do next, when "Plan A" doesn't work? Will they have a go at people like me who live in a village, but work in a nearby bigger town? Indeed, will they have a go at me for living in a house that is now bigger than we strictly need? Mark you, it was never quite big enough when the kids were growing up!

Now we know why they need the confiscation powers contained in the Civil Contingencies Act.

hatfield girl said...

Nor can they afford houses in the urban areas where they grew up, S, Camden costs. The removal of all the allowances on housing would seem an immediate step. Apart from that people can spend their money as they choose, surely. Otherwise why stop at rationing housing?

There is quite an argument for city dwellers to have access to the countryside as well as vice versa.

The best thing is to let things sort themselves out and return to council housing that remains in the hands of the local authority. Poverty means being poor and is often associated with being young. People do get better off and buy their own houses eventually. The selling off of council houses and the funding of social housing outside local authorities was very short-sighted. Some things are truly social and protect other freedoms by their existence. Council housing was one of them; now, after a single windfall gain for one generation of tenants the housing freedoms of all are being eyed-up by the nastiest of regimes.

The de-mutualisation of the building societies was another anti-social act of shame that impoverished us all.

hatfield girl said...

Sackerson has said before that there isn't really a housing shortage so much as a housing mismatch Y, with lots of houses no longer appropriate to their occupants. Not that he means any interference with what people want to spend on their housing if they like but it is possible to imaging a benign tax and duty environment to help people when they wish to review their housing consumption, and a kinder planning environment too would help.

Matching these to the developmental cycle of families would do much to solve some housing difficulties both urban and rural. At the moment any attempt to set up temporary but separate households, or change usage at all is met with avid tax-gathering and planning obstruction.

Sen. C.R.O'Blene said...

Good post Hats.

Nail on head about selling off Council Housing, it wasn't the best option and the consequence is that a new market has emerged in buying old stock on housing estates where original tenants bought their council home to escape the 'front door' badge of reliance on their council.

In university towns, much student accommodation has sprung from these new freehold homes, when the first buyers move on.

This evolving market is also apparent where - say - a tenant bought their council home, and wanted to move away. Therefore, the home is on an original estate, but a freehold, which would not be attractive to anyone wanting to get to a place not associated with their past home i.e. on an estate.

However, these are nearly all the first time buyers have on offer. I helped both Daughts to see many of these when they was searching. On most estates, they were damn good buys, but you have to balance social expectancy with actual money in pocket when you decide to move to one.

In a real commercial world, the best money making option for a housing estate is for everyone to buy their home there. Immediately, the address loses it's 'Council' badge, and becomes a private estate!

I've yet to discover the impact of the present housing crunch on how Housing Associations are going to get their homes built - it's not my field now, but they had better move fast.

And think of some of the gardens on these places...

Elby the Beserk said...

New Stasi hate the countryside, if only for the fact that it does not vote Stasi. Down here in the South West, we are used to having appalling "public" (i.e. private) transport, whilst we have to shell out for transport schemes such as Crossrail (£5 billion from the taxpayer), the Jubilee Line extension (£3 billion) and billion plus figures for other cities.

Oddly - given that it has been for years, a Labour stronghold, Bristol too is dealt with as a bolshie countrysider. The first city - back in 1975 - to propose resurrecting trams, a few years back it was told that its 25 plus year long formal attempt to get government help for this was to be denied. Bristol commuters average commute time MPH is now as bad is if not worse than London.

Down here, we turn our backsides to London, fart massively and malodourously, and wave our jacket tails at London in the manner of Jarvis Cocker. The next step will be to line the A36 with tractors and burning tyres, and then we declare UDI. Bloody sod them, in the immortal words of Bobby Chariot - bloody sod them.

lilith said...

When I moved here four years ago it was a bit miz. Kids littering the environs, bashing footballs at cars, people rushing to get inside. Now the kids have stopped bashing cars with footballs and littering the steps, and there are flowers on everyone's frontage. Everyone smiles and stops to chat. Nice. Just the sort of council estate I like to live on. I have no doubt that when the barricades go up my neighbours will be neighbourly. We are about a third owner-occupier to two thirds tenants. God knows where the teenagers will live if they want their own place though...tenancy or otherwise.. I bought this off the original tenant. All the new builds in town are on the flood plain next to Asda and a one bedroom flat costs more than this place would.

Anonymous said...


At least with Crossrail (if and when!) and the Jubilee extension you'll probably see the product and possibly (from time to time) benefit from the expenditure. Londoners are coughing up the lion's share for the Olympics. You know, the useless festival for obsessives and drug triallists, which - come Christmas 2012 - will produce a massive wasteland dotted with derelict stadia and substandard housing to show for the £billions sprayed around by our rulers.

hatfield girl said...

Welwyn Garden City and Hatfield was mostly development corporation, L (and built mostly by Scroblene's Dad as far as I can gather), and the council housing in Hatfield was indistinguishable anyway. There weren't any really rough bits and almost the entire place, except for old Welwyn and old Hatfield and the Garden Village, was public housing.

Council housing is built to very high standards, at least until the Wilson years. All the high quality stuff was bought up immediately. Such a loss, a really bad mistake on a par with ending academic education in the state system.