Today’s Fulham & Hammersmith Chronicle (not available online) reports that LBH&F is about to change the housing rules to end tenancies for life. The paper tells us that this is a “pioneering new policy” that will “increase low-cost home ownership”. How so? Property prices in the borough are some of the highest in London and, according to F&HC, the fourth highest in the country. I have seen mid-terrace properties being advertised for as much as £1m! In January, I reported that H&F were to build around 25 homes to buy in a disused health centre. How will that make any difference? It won’t. There is a chronic housing shortage in London and indeed the rest of the country. H&F is not immune from this. The Tory ruling group thinks that it is.
The cabinet member for housing, Cllr Andrew Johnson defending the policy said,
“We are saying that the current system, whereby anyone can apply for a council home irrespective of housing need has failed”.
“Irrespective of housing need”? What’s he talking about? People who apply for housing from the council are in need. I’d like to meet these people he’s talking about but I suspect that I never will. He continues,
“We want to give honest, hard-working local residents on low to middle incomes, who make a positive contribution to their local communities, the opportunity to access social housing”
Oh, yeah, the old “honest, hard-working” line again. Now where have I heard that before? In other words, anyone who has to claim benefits to live on a meagre wage isn’t “hard-working” or “honest”? There’s more,
“The old, antiquated system has created disadvantaged communities by producing concentrations of people on benefits with disproportionately high levels of unemployment and sometimes social breakdown”.
“Old” and “antiquated” in the same sentence. That’s a tautology, surely? Johnson’s a sophist but I find his use of those words interesting. It is as if to assume that what this council is doing is progressive or modern. Of course, it is neither. Towards the end of the article, he repeats the old familiar line about those who are “more deserving”. What is also interesting is this idea of giving priority to the Armed Forces. But, hang on, don’t they already have housing?
F&HC also says that this policy is expected be approved at next Monday’s cabinet meeting and has been approved by recently appointed housing minister, Mark Prisk, who…now get this, was once the vice chairman of the Federation of Conservative Students.
The Dear Departed Leader’s dream of a borough for the rich has just come a step closer to reality.