When will we have a government that really cares about housing for the poor?

People cannot afford London any more. And it's the "any more" that's key

Share

A London council put a pair of massive Grade II-listed but rundown semis in an auction last week with a guide price of £2.3 million. Thanks to widespread press coverage and the invasion by local activist squatters – not to mention the desirable location with views of the Shard - interest in the properties soared and the final sale price was nearly £3 million.

The sale reignited an ongoing debate. “Is it right that only rich people can live in London’s best areas?” ask the usual suspects on one side of the argument. Yet having observed the housing scene for over 40 years, it strikes me that the question itself is not right. You may as well ask whether it is right that only rich people can have Lamborghinis and Rolexes and drink champagne every day.

What the rich can afford screams at us relentlessly from the pages of glossy magazines, but I have yet to see social activists squatting in Harrods or Harvey Nichols protesting against “social cleansing” because poor people can’t afford to shop there.

So why is housing seen as being different? And, more to the point today, why are we to believe that social tenants, who are subsidised by the state (is us, the taxpayers) should be able to live in areas which most taxpayers cannot afford any more?

The answer lies in those two little words: “any more”.

Over the last few years the London housing market has declared UDI from the UK and launched itself into space. The influx of foreign buyers/investors from all over the world has helped prices – and rents - rise to levels which the locals, with their stagnant wages, cannot afford.

By 2016, research by agents Hamptons International revealed, only four of London’s 33 boroughs will have two-bed flats for sale for an average under £250,000. Londoners aspiring to have families as well as careers are looking further afield. “Social cleansing” is now embracing the Marks & Spencer classes.

So was Southwark right to sell two desirable properties in order to be able to build 20 new council houses, as  Fiona Colley, cabinet member for “regeneration and corporate strategy”, promised? I suggest that the activists now focus their vigilance on ensuring that this is what the money is spent on and not, say, a shiny new town hall.

This could prove challenging, especially as Ms Colley’s track record on the Heygate Estate, which will have over 2,500 pricey private flats but very few for social renting, is, well, troubling.

As are other current examples, like Westminster Council managing to let developers off over £31 million of affordable housing contributions for massively lucrative deals in the heart of the capital this year alone.

The poor will always be with us, but when will we again have a government that really cares about their – and our – housing crisis?

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Syrian refugee 'Nora' with her two month-old daughter. She was one of the first Syrians to come to the UK when the Government agreed to resettle 100 people from the country  

Open letter to David Cameron on Syrian refugees: 'Several hundred people' isn't good enough

Independent Voices
Amjad Bashir said Ukip had become a 'party of ruthless self-interest'  

Could Ukip turncoat Amjad Bashir be the Churchill of his day?

Matthew Norman
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project