Build millions of council houses to solve housing crisis


PUBLIC sector workers such as firefighters, teachers, and nurses, cannot afford to buy homes in seven out of 10 UK towns, because of the massive inflation of house prices, the Halifax Bank has said.

In fact what goes for these public sector workers goes for the whole of the working class.

At the moment many public sector, key workers travel well over a hundred miles from their homes to jobs in London, with many of them staying with friends in London during the week and returning to their homes on the weekends, if they can.

Even this practice is becoming more and more difficult as house prices continue to climb. One result is young people remaining at home being a burden to their ageing parents into their 30s.

The Halifax bank says that property is most unaffordable in London and South-East England but that the other regions of the UK are now catching up fast.

Of the 517 towns and local authorities surveyed by the Halifax Bank, 363 (70 per cent) were deemed unaffordable.

Halifax defined a town as unaffordable if the average price of a house was more than 4.46 times the average wage of the workers.

In 2002, just over a third of towns were beyond the means of public sector workers looking to buy property, last year that figure rose to 65 per cent. This year the figure is set to rise to over 70 per cent.

In the past year, according to both the Nationwide and Halifax, average UK house prices have risen by about 10 per cent.

With the government embarking on a policy of imposing a wage freeze, in fact a wage cut onto workers, the problem for public sector workers looks certain to get much worse.

‘Health workers are effectively being given a pay cut and the idea that they can get on the property ladder is a non-starter’, said UNISON’s Anne Mitchell.

In the last ten years the housing crisis has become absolutely desperate for millions because the Labour government has mounted a massive offensive to sell off millions of council homes to the private landlords, so that they can charge market rents. At the same time Labour has halted all council house building.

Even charities such as the Peabody Trust have been refused proper financial support by the Labour government.

It has been told that it must sell off whole estates of low rent housing, decanting the workers that live in them to other properties, and build instead properties to be sold off to the rich for as much as £500,000 a flat in central London.

This is the only type of housing now being built. Usually it is high rise, with smaller than usual rooms, with the different blocks very close to each other. These are completely unsuitable for children or the elderly and aimed at City of London financial workers willing to use their big bonuses to pay astronomical sums for flats close to the city.

The housing crisis in Britain was first examined by Frederick Engels in the last part of the 19th century. It is now poised to worsen to the point where the numbers of homeless will be counted in the millions.

The only way out of this housing crisis, is to recommence the building of millions of new council homes, to be let at affordable rents.

This will also provide millions of jobs for youth and building workers at trade union rates of pay with real training in all of the skilled trades for youth.

The resources for carrying out such a necessary building programme will come from the nationalising of the designated building land, the banks that are flowing over with profits, and the building industry, that currently builds just for the rich.

These measures will put an end to the housing problem that is part and parcel of British capitalism. Only socialist measures by a workers’ government can do this job.