The UK Housing Crisis

The housing crisis is only going to get worse if the Conservative government continue their reign of astringency. The absence of thoughtful, long-term beneficial housing programmes is seriously affecting us all.  

A recent series was launched by the Yorkshire Evening Post which highlighted the inequality occurring in Leeds in 2019. One of the biggest issues facing tenants today is the availability of affordable housing and within that the lack of available social housing. The Evening Post unveiled that one 2-bedroom council property in Little London received a staggering 674 bids, with another house in Moor Town receiving 500 bids. 

It’s transpiring that it’s not just working-class areas in Leeds that dominate the bids, the issue is city and country-wide and is affecting so many people. 

Neil Evans, the Director of Housing for Leeds City Council explains that the demand for social housing is significantly higher than the supply. This is emblematic across the country. The catalyst for the dwindling supply of social housing is the 1980 Thatcherite policy, Right to Buy, whereby tenants in the UK were able to buy their council house from their local authority under this legislation. Initially this appeared to be a fantastic opportunity from lower-economic backgrounds – the chance to own their own home at a discounted market rate, providing many people with financial security. 

The repercussions of this initially conducive programme have turned extremely sour forty years later. The supply of social housing has never recovered, the number of affordable homes being built do not correspond with the amount being sold. It’s a sink-hole situation. Prior to the Right to Buy programme, many people from low and moderate incomes lived in social housing. Social housing tenants were not stigmatised for being so. The programme created a wealth disparity between those who had little and those who had nothing. Council homes were built for the benefit of the nation, to help people who are in real need of housing, not for individual families to gain capital. The Housing Act allowed for individual households to receive short-term benefits, whilst creating long-term issues for the nation. Today in 2019, the legislation is no longer in effect; however, the damaging results are still rife in Britain today. How is it fair that we have become a nation of renters because of a legislation set almost 40 years ago, by a government some of us are determined to vote in again? 

It is clear that many Britons blame the housing crisis on the influx of immigrants that have come about due to the UK joining the European Union in 1973. As less affluent countries such as Poland in 2004, Bulgaria and Romania in 2007 joined the EU, the freedom of movement meant that people could come to the UK to seek better opportunities. The referendum results conclude that many Britons believe that the issues we face as a nation in regard to the general housing crisis alongside other issues, is due to immigration from the EU draining our resources, and the fees paid into the EU draining our national budget. 54% of the nation attribute the housing crisis to immigration. Whereas in reality, the issues we are facing are due to poor legislation, austerity and a Conservative government. 

In order for us to become an egalitarian nation we must take care of the issues that have arisen from the British Conservative party rather than scapegoating immigrants from the EU and humiliating those who are in need of social housing.   

Your vote in this election is absolutely imperative for the future stability of the majority of people. We cannot allow a government that is infamous for austerity, creating an incompetent benefit system and allowing tax breaks for the wealthy to create a safe and stable housing market. Nor can we rely on middle ground parties that will never gain a majority, we need to vote for a party that have consistently believed that effective social housing availability for everyone is imperative and that houses that are deemed to be affordable actually are so. 

Image: The Independent