Letters: What happens when ‘generation rent’ grows old?

These letters appear in the Tuesday 6th May edition of the Independent



In considering the spectacular inability of this government to tackle the obscene housing/rental costs in this country, I wonder if David Cameron and his colleagues have considered what will happen in a few years’ time when the “rent generation” need to fund their own old-age care.

Since all of their money will have passed into the hands of their landlords and other “fat cats” and they will have had no chance to buy property or save because all their money has gone in extortionate rent payments, presumably they will have nothing left to contribute to their old-age care. Hence their whole care tab will have to be picked up by the taxpayer.

I wonder if this has been factored into the Government’s calculations when considering the burden on future generations. Do they know? Do they care?

Jeremy Blythe, Burrington, North Somerset

When will politicians stop proposing “rental controls” which do the opposite of what they intend by triggering reduced investment in property and encouraging people to take their properties off the rental market?

It’s about time someone either in opposition or in power actually stood up, faced the music, and admitted that the reason we’re in a housing crisis is that we have not built enough homes to cope with the increasing population. We must start going down the direct route to solve this – by actually building more affordable properties.

Dylan Carroll, London SW15

I am a 71-year-old whose private pension pot was decimated by the daylight robbery that Ed Miliband helped Gordon Brown to achieve.

Now Mr Miliband has a plan to pick the only pocket that some of us have left by way of income from rental investments on a small scale. Give me a break,  will you?

Anthony Barnes, Keston, Kent

Sex, power and Islamic extremism

A school in Birmingham, allegedly influenced by extreme Salafist or Wahhabi theology, is under investigation, reported to have taught that men are superior to women, that wives have a duty to “obey” husbands and that they may not refuse sex. At the same time, the Government calls on women living in households influenced by exactly this sort of extreme ideology to speak out if their men are thinking of travelling abroad to fight. It must realise they have little power to do so.

The potential for control of women’s labour, sexuality and fertility is probably one of the most potent recruitment tools for male Muslim extremists – as indeed it is in some fundamentalist Christian sects. The best way to counter such extremism is to empower and educate women and girls, advising them of their rights, providing the tools they need to control their own lives, and refuge and protection if they or their children need it.

A national helpline able to offer practical advice to women and children would be a good place to start.

Jean Calder, Brighton

In his book review “The visionary’s burden” (3 May), Marcus Tanner asks “why the Arab-Muslim world is so resistant to the argument for atheism”. It should surely be common knowledge that overt declarations of atheism are tantamount to apostasy and constitute a capital offence under shari’a law. Indeed, so serious is this potential threat to the continuance of the religion that the renowned Muslim cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi pronounced last year that Islam would be nothing without the law on apostasy.

Russell Webb, Ringwood Hampshire

Zero hours a boon to the disabled

The increasing call for ending zero-hours contracts is too simplistic. They are a form of employment that is callously misused by some commercial employers, and this certainly needs addressing, but it is also the way that enables thousands of individual disabled people to employ their own personal carers.

People in this position, especially if the employment is funded by severely restricted personal budgets, have to manage their care so that it’s available only when needed. Disability can’t be scheduled like a factory work-rota. Sometimes more help is needed, sometimes less. Sometimes the type of help and helper need to change, often at short notice. Disabled people on tight budgets get very good at managing their support to meet these fluctuating requirements, but they need the flexibility of zero-hours contracts to do it.

This often suits the workers too. In practice many of the helpers employed in these circumstances are not career carers seeking job security and fixed income, but people whose own lives mean they prefer doing caring shifts by mutual flexible arrangement.

So if zero-hours contracts are scrapped because of their misuse by profiteers, a new and different employment model will be needed to give the flexibility that is essential for individual disabled people and convenient for many of the helpers they employ.

Ray Chandler, Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex

TB in a world with no antibiotics

The World Health Organisation’s stark warning about the risks of a post-antibiotic era comes as no surprise to people working in tuberculosis. We have long warned that we might soon need to reopen TB sanatoria and would have to pin our hopes on fresh air and relaxation as the only way to help people recover from the disease.

The way forward has to involve governments, scientists, prescribers and patients. Until recent years, investment in tuberculosis research and development all but stopped, as there was a mistaken belief that the disease was on the path to eradication in the pharmaceutical industry’s prime western markets. Hopefully new research now under way will bear fruit, and we will have a new and much more effective vaccine before BCG marks its 100th anniversary in the 2020s.

For prescribers, the issue goes way beyond GPs seeking to shepherd prescription-hungry patients out of the surgery in eight minutes. In India last week I saw a village “doctor”, with the most rudimentary training, prescribe five doses of antibiotics for a chest infection, telling his patient to buy just three from the pharmacist and only go back for the other two if she didn’t feel better. And patients need support when the treatment is especially challenging, as with the six-month course of drugs for TB.

Envisaging the risks facing us is easy. Just Google photos of sanatoria and see the way our grandparents were treated for TB, and how our grandchildren might be too if we do not take urgent global action.

Mike Mandelbaum, Chief Executive, TB Alert, Brighton

British death tolls in two world wars

In Guy Keleny’s excellent article on the First World War (5 May) I would take but one issue. The reason that the butcher’s bill for Britain was lower in the Second World War than in the First wasn’t because of the mechanisation solution. Rather it was, as John Terraine pointed out years ago, because Britain wasn’t facing the “main body of the enemy”. The Soviet Union certainly was, and suffered accordingly.

Mark Thomas, Histon, Cambridgeshire

The actress Joan Greenwood had a long and illustrious career, but this did not extend to devising and producing “Oh What A Lovely War!”, which she left to her semi-namesake Joan Littlewood.

David Bebbington, Broadstairs, Kent

Pisa university’s shady garden

In your travel guide to Pisa (3 May), it is disappointing that you have made no mention of the Botanic Garden (Orto Botanico).

It is the oldest botanic garden in Europe, founded in 1543, and has a splendid collection of rare and exotic plants. It is part of the Department of Biological Sciences at Pisa University, engaging in research on biodiversity, among other topics.

It includes a collection of large, shady palm trees, which are very welcome in the heat of a Tuscan summer.

Dr Jane Susanna Ennis, London NW6

Yes, let’s take control – of the EU

Nigel Farage keeps on saying, “Let’s take back control of our country”.

I say, we are the third largest member country of the EU. If the headlines were, “British lead European Union”, everyone would be happy. So, let’s do it.

Richard Grant, Burley, Hampshire

Uninviting undergarments

Spanx undergarments not only have an inappropriate name, but are ugly and uncomfortable (because very tight) garments (“ ‘She had Spanx on’: why the CPS dropped rape case”, 2 May). How in heaven’s name could anyone think wearing them is in any way provocative?

Sara Neill, Tunbridge Wells, Kent

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