Why Right To Buy Will Not Work.
For the first time ever, I approach the forthcoming election as a floating voter. I could pick something I love, and something I hate out of every one of the main parties policies. I'm theirs for the taking. That was until yesterday, when I heard about the Conservatives plans to extend the Right To Buy scheme. For me, because of this single policy, the Tories are out of the running.
For background, I'm not a Thatcher basher. I'm not anti Tory as such. I've voted Conservative in the past, and have some views that seem to be in line with Conservative policy. In fact, if I was to describe myself politically, it'd be a Liberal Conservative.
Perfect coalition for me presently then?
Maybe, if it were the other way round, with the Lib Dems holding the balance of power, and with Paddy Ashdown in the hotseat.
I'm not even against the original right to buy scheme, as far as I know. I'm not that well informed on it, and it was a little before my time but as far as I can see it wasn't the scheme that went wrong. It was the (lack of) 'aftercare' and culture shift that followed. No new houses to fill the demand left by the social housing being bought up, and also not enough restrictions on the sales among other things. Anyway, that's probably another blog.
This new proposed Right to Buy extension highlights how far out of touch the Conservatives are with me, the publics perception of them, peoples aspirations, and the reasons for disdain among the general public. (notice that I didn't say 'ordinary people'. What a horrible turn of phrase that just about every politician seems ok with).
I am married, no dependent Children at home full time (I have a Child from a previous relationship). and I work full time in a factory. My wife works for the local authority. We earn around what sounds like a decent income between us. That is until you start adding up what needs to be paid for.
We once looked into shared ownership properties. Going in we worked out that we could afford to pay around £700 in total for rent/motgage payments, but it would be a stretch. We would certainly be getting rid of Sky TV and buying more blue and white stripe packaged items.
We applied in any case and the reply we got back was staggering. Apparently we earned too much for the scheme so were not eligable for a start. Then, the breakdown of costs, if we were eligible worked out to Mortgage and rent payments of just over £850 a month. £850 a month. I'm saying it twice. How can someone on a low income afford to pay that amount, just to stop the rain getting on their head at night?
Bearing that in mind, the RTB scheme extension is a kick in the teeth.
From our point of view, we work full time, pay tax and aren't taking a penny off the state. We pay for prescriptions, we pay a good amount of vehicle related taxes (due to needing to get to work), I pay Child Maintainance, we pay VAT when we can afford to buy stuff and we pay national insurance to fund the National Health service, which we haven't had to use too much as we get medical insurance through my work.
So bearing all of that in mind, why on earth am I not being helped to buy my own home? We cant afford a mortgage, and we cant even afford to save for a deposit because of all the above costs of living.
The above would be more acceptable to me if the RTB wasn't being extended. This will be my main point on this.
It is not fair that someone already nicely housed in social housing, secure and in a good position to be frugal, then has the additional right to buy their house at what I assume will be hugely affordable rates. (I would wager that they won't be paying £850 a month for the privilege). This is likely to include people who work less hours a week than me, are in receipt of housing benefit, Tax Credits, Child Benefit etc etc. I'm not saying it's easy to live in this position, but they are living, and being supported by people like me: Those paying, and not receiving.
I am all for aspiration and social mobility, but the problem is that social mobility should be enabled by the self, with help from the Government. It shouldn't be someone's automatic right to be 'well off'. Living well should take work, investment in society and awareness of responsibility. In my opinion, social mobility should not start with an act of charity.
To me this whole policy seems like a desperate measure. It's almost like there's been some kind of Tory focus group where someone has said.....
"We need the votes of those awful benefit street type people. How can we make that happen?".
"I know, lets give them a house". Followed by guffawing and quaffing of Quail eggs and Swan.
Without wanting to sound too right wing, that persons kids are going to inherit that house and start off life with a £150000 asset, all going well. Regardless of hours worked, tax paid or dare I say..money put in the pot.
My Son will probably get a well used Bass Guitar and a whole load of Viz annuals. Cheers Dad.
I sincerely hope that this ill thought out, expensive scheme will not happen. All it will do will be to exacerbate the housing crisis we already have (if the Tories believe the houses sold will be replaced even 1 to 1, they're even more deluded that I first thought. Remember though that due to the housing crisis, they would have to replace the houses much more than that to keep up with even the current demand).
Less affordable housing obviously means more demand, higher private rents, people deciding to have Children as a financial measure, rather than because they want to be parents, people being better off not working as much, and more desire to get on the benefits....I mean housing ladder.
In short everything thats happening now, but much, much worse.