Housing shortage: sell-off is to blame

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I felt I had to reply to the right wing rhetoric in a letter from Cllr Garner published in the Chad.

He blames the shortage of housing on Labour’s so called open door policy and for the failure to build council houses in Mansfield.

The truth is that in the 1980s the Conservative Party decimated social housing; Margaret Thatcher made a decision to sell off all Council houses for knock down prices.

I do not blame any tenant for buying their property; as in the film the Godfather, they were made an offer they could not refuse.

This has resulted in a loss of two million units of social housing (four thousand in Mansfield) since 1980.

The government said that housing associations would fill this gap, this proved to be wishful thinking. Not only did they take a cut of the money raised by these sales, their policies made it impossible for local authorities to build replacements. This achieved their aim, which was to increase the market for private rented accommodation, and as it turns out many of the council properties that were sold are now owned by private landlords.

The Institute for Public Policy Research North state that in the last 10 years there has been an increase of 900,000 people in privately rented accommodation and up to a third of these properties are not up to the decent homes standard.

Some of these landlords share a total of £9.3 billion taxpayers money paid out in housing benefits.

Cllr Garner will be aware of this as in the register of members’ interest at Nottinghamshire County Council he states he is the owner of 6 properties in Mansfield.

I would guess a couple of these would have been council owned at some time.

I have no problem with this, Cllr Garner is entitled to purchase as many houses as wishes but he should be aware of the social impact of this as private rented accommodation is on average 25 per cent dearer than council rents.

What I object to, is his opposition to house building expressed in his letter.

Far be it from me to suggest, but is his objection more about restricting the supply of property so that rents to private landlords remain high, driven up by the demand for what homes are available?

Cllr Gardner also said that only the Independents have built council houses recently. What he did not say is that this was only made possible with funding provided by the Homes and Communities Agency, a Labour Party initiative.

Coun John Smart,

Labour Councillor,

Ransom Wood ward