There’s nothing worse than middle-class tories who think they understand the working class. Here’s Iain Dale on the Policy Exchange’s clever ruse on housing….
The second thing was the potential political gain of one of the key recommendations – to allow every working council tenant to purchase their home at their existing rent under a new revamped Right to Buy. This could create swathes of Conservative voters in urban working class areas – the very areas that they often failed to capture last time.
Yes… it will go down like a lead balloon with all those swathes of working class folk who find their sons and daughters have absolutely no chance of ever getting access to reasonably priced rented housing.
Of course, in fairness to Policy Exchange, they point out that they also advocate a programme of mass house building to open up the housing market and thereby reduce house prices (which will do wonders to build morale amongst those working-class home-owning Tory voters sitting on piles of negative equity) and providing affordable housing opportunities for new buyers. But that in itself presents a whole series of challenges.
Exactly what is ‘affordable’ housing when banks and building societies are reigning in borrowing and reintroducing earnings limit of two-and-a half times annual salaries is an interesting question. I wonder how many £100,000 homes would be built in the areas of most need in the South East of England, for instance, other than pigeon-loft sized little boxes. With an economy about to be turned upside down, massive job uncertainty for everyone in industries dependent on public sector spending, and in the public services themselves, the prospect of creating a whole generation of young people saddled with 25-years of debt doesn’t seem that attractive.
And with no social housing to provide cheap rented accommodation for people to fall back on, we can get back to a time when Tory housing ministers romanticised about having to step over the homeless on the way to the opera.