Today the Conservatives released Lynton Crosby’s manifesto and as expected there were some last minute surprises, most notably the extension of Right to Buy to housing association homes. It is no exaggeration to say that this policy will be a catastrophe.
It is economically illiterate as it only further pumps up the already inflated housing market making it more difficult for people to get on the housing ladder. More importantly it is entirely immoral and cruel as it further reduces the supply of social housing in this country.
This means that more people on low incomes will have to be squeezed into an ever smaller amount of social housing, while rents will go up for everyone else as most of the former social houses will end up in the hands of private rented landlords.
The policy is just further evidence of the heartlessness of the Conservatives and the absolute necessity of electing a Labour Government.
Labour’s plan on housing is much better: we have pledged to build 200,000 homes a year to address the huge crisis of supply, to support renters with longer term tenancies, and by banning rip-off letting fees. All of this is fully costed policy and so will not increase the deficit.
Under our plans we will meet the huge crisis in housing supply, increase the number of home owners, while at the same time supporting those who rent and protecting he diversity of our housing provision. There has to be a very big role for social housing, but the Tories seem intent on getting rid of it.
From an economic point of view, perhaps the most irresponsible aspect of the Tories’ policy is the fact that they are selling off state and social sector owned property at knock down prices to the private market. Buyers of social housing receive subsidies from the Government, so the Conservatives are literally paying people to take away our collective assets!
A similar thing happened with the Coalition Government’s botched Royal Mail privatisation. Until the last Government we all had a stake in the Royal Mail, but now it is owned by the hedge fund backers of the Conservative Party, with a few shares tokenistically sold off to Royal Mail workers.
To make matters worse, the Royal Mail was sold for less than its actual value, which really makes you question the motives of the Conservative Party.
Privatise, deregulate and run roughshod over people on low and middle incomes – this is what the Conservative’s modernisation project has come to. It is time for a more responsible and nuanced approach.