The Tories have recently come out with two ‘ideas’ that involve financialisation packaged as ‘social benefit.’ These two bits of financial engineering will, no doubt, increase private debt and encourage more bubbling of housing. The first is their intention to build more council housing that is paid for by the future sale of the houses based on anticipation of their increase in value. The second is the funding of social care through the use of assets above £100,000. For most people this will be in the form of a house which will have to be re-mortgaged via a ‘financial product’ (hold crucifixes aloft), then, when the owner has died, the family or relatives will have to sell the house and pay the costs with interest. In short: more wealth extraction from the community. Given present household debt is at 130% of GDP this does not look good.
When I arrived in the UK in 1981 housing was abundant and cheap. I was able to purchase a house well within a year and there were many available starting at about 75% of my annual salary (£6,500 as a Post Doc in the University of Sheffield) but I purchased one on an 80% mortgage at about 1.5 times annual salary (£10,000). Admittedly this was in South Yorkshire where property prices were below the national average. Thirty five years later the situation is markedly different. It would not be over dramatic to say there is a housing crisis.
This week is Mental Health Awareness Week . What an excellent time for the Conservatives to pledge an extra 10,000 mental health staff by 2020 – it’s surely just minor carelessness that they’ve managed to lose 4,800 mental health staff on their current watch so far.
The appalling scandal of newly built houses being sold as leasehold by Britain’s six biggest housebuilders (and where the ground rent can double every 10 years – just because they can) is by now well documented. In fact leasehold properties are now thought to make up over 40% of all new homes.
This is rent extraction at its worst – often just plain extortion.