|Addressing the Democratic Deficit home|
|Green Paper on Affordable Housing|
The three main pillars of post-war Labour policy were health, education and housing. But by the mid 1970s, housing had slipped down the agenda. Rising living standards had brought home ownership within the reach of millions for the first time. After 1980, council house sales were a big factor too. Owner-occupation rose from 50% to the present level of about 70%. The result was that most peoplesí interest in housing tended to end at their front door; no-one else mattered. But new house building has not kept up with the demand. Prices have rocketed as have rents meaning that young couples can no longer afford a place of their own. T he only solution is to build more homes. The Green Paper proposes a big increase in house building; much of it affordable. This is good news. Releasing surplus government land will be a great help too. The Paper majors on financial, planning issues etc but very little thought is given to the people who are going to live in these new homes. The main emphasis of the Paper is on promoting individual home ownership; common ownership alternatives like housing co-ops and mutual etc are ignored. Involving tenants in the management of their homes is not considered. The democratic deficit in social housing is ignored.
council housing is disappearing as local councils transfer their housing
stock to housing associations and the like.
Others have set up armís length management organisations (ALMOs)
where stock transfer was not possible.
Housing management is out-sourced to these not-for-profit
organisations whose job is to bring the accommodation up to the new Decent
Homes Standard i.e. new kitchens, new bathrooms etc.
Mutual Home Ownership scheme (MHO) consists of a housing co-op working in
conjunction with a community land trust.
The trust owns the land which will have been gifted to it by a
statutory agency or local organisation.
That stops future speculation.
The co-op then builds the housing which is leased to individual
members. On leaving, they
receive a part of the rise in the value of their homes since moving in. Costs
are reduced because there are no land costs, low legal fees and the
tenants control day-to-day expenditure.
As the housing is co-operatively owned it canít be sold off.
Fourteen community land trusts are to be piloted; seven in rural
areas and seven in urban areas. English
Partnerships are supporting the pilot MHO scheme in Gloucestershire.
It is being developed in partnership with CDS Co-operatives.
This article was first published in the Co-op News