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Friday, 15 March 2013

Double Standards in Housing

Red Brick has been following Eastenders, and makes somewhat nerdish observations on the accuracy of its treatment of Council housing.  What I find striking about the Tory attitudes on housing are their dimorphism.

When it comes to Council tenants, the more restrictions the better as far as Tory Councils like Hammersmith are concerned.  Tenants are given insecure tenancies where they are swiftly moved on after not more than five years.  They may not get that long if they fail to fulfil lots of conditions, whether reasonable _ paying rent, not engaging in criminal behaviour_ or extremely demanding: like being forced to "volunteer" in ways that the Tories consider useful.  Even occupying too much space is to be punished via the bedroom tax.

Contrast that with private householders.  Suddenly an Englishman's home is his castle again.  The language turns to abuse of supposedly busybody Councils who are said by the Daily Mail to constantly harass people as a result of the over generous funding of Councils leaving these officers with nothing to do but be officious.

What strikes me, aside from the lack of verisimilitude in this world view, is the obvious double standard.  The private householder has liberty and freedom from interference; the council tenant exists on sufferance.  I have even seen quotes from Tory politicians informing Council tenant residents that living in particular Boroughs is a privilege not a right.  Imagine voting for someone who told you that?

Of course, much of the agenda hiding behind this is gerrymandering, and some of it is just hatred of other people.  But what I find most striking is that there is no sense that people need a sense of security.  The development of insecure tenancies goes hand in hand with a general stripping away of protections in terms of rights in the work place, legal protections and (unless you live in a rich area) planning protections.

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