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Monday, 31 October 2016

Nationalisation and Privatisation

I remarked a while ago on the phantom privatisation of Council Housing in the shapes of ALMOs, it is equally striking how little comments there has been on the nationalisation of housing associations by the present Conservative government. 

What is striking about this is that it was just announced by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) one day that Housing Associations had become public corporations.  A useful paper from Northern Ireland explains the process.  I think the ONS were quite right.  If the government starts telling you that you have to sell off your assets, how you reinvest the capital, what rents you can charge and so on you are effectively nationalised. 

Nonwtheless, no one seems to have publicly reacted to this new fact.  I suspect the Tory ministers that did it literally had no idea what they were doing.  Given that their great objective since election in 2010 was supposed to be getting getting public debt down, the effect of taking on the liabilities of the Housing Associations on to the public books is pretty embarrassing.  I would have though just wiping out the business plans of these organisations at a stroke also sat very ill with traditional Tory philosophy.  It must be the biggest nationalisation since Stephen Byers took over Network Rail, maybe bigger.

The Labour Party has also been surprisingly reticent on the subject, but even more striking has been the silence of the Hard Left.  It is, after all, an indication that the problems of a sector don't necessarily just fall away with a change of ownership.

1 comment:

  1. Isn't this a way of restricting how much HAs can borrow and therefore how much social housing they can borrow? By transferring them into the public sector, HAs have more limited borrowing available to them - if I understand that correctly. Nationalisation seems to be a price worth paying to the Tories as long as they can restrict social house building

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