“That the UK is governed in the interests of landowners and landlords is underlined by the presence of nine in the cabinet and a total of nearly 200 in the House of Commons ”
TWO LETTERS IN THE GUARDIAN ABOUT HOUSING
Your editorial (Britons will live in shoe boxes unless we resurrect housing standards, 11 April) is timely. That we have the lowest space standards in Europe was identified in an RIBA report, “Making Space”, published four years ago.
This was not always the case. The 1961 Parker Morris Report, “Home for Today and Tomorrow” published under a Conservative government, set what were then minimum space standards which were voluntarily adopted by all the London boroughs, when the main responsibility for the provision of public housing was transferred to them from the LCC in 1964 before the standards became mandatory. They were abolished by Thatcher in 1983, since when the big shrink set in.
So when the London boroughs engage in their so-called regeneration exercises, not only are they engaging in social cleansing, breaking up established communities, severing vulnerable people from their support networks; they are replacing homes built to decent spaces standards with “shoe boxes”.
Chief culprit at present is Lambeth, which has recently added the Westbury Estate, SW8, to the long list of decent estates within its demolition sights. This was designed by the architect Philip Bottonley, now in his 90s, who is so well regarded within the profession that his archive of drawings is about to be added to the collection held by the Victoria and Albert museum.
• That the UK is governed in the interests of landowners and landlords is underlined by the presence of nine in the cabinet and a total of nearly 200 in the House of Commons (PM among cabinet members earning money as landlords, 14 April).
Since 1979 the House of Commons has ensured that all landlords’ rising profits come not only from rents, but also from a steady increase in the value of their land to the detriment of around 7 million renters in the UK. Since then they have ploughed money into bolstering the demand for housing to such a extent that the late Professor Peter Ambrose was able to write in a memo to Tony Blair in 2005 that. “The flow of demand side subsidies are working to enrich landlords and vendors and not to stimulate housing output. The analysis shows that more money has gone into housing but fewer houses have come out.”
MPs have also allowed unlimited international investment in the limited supply of UK land, as another means of increasing land values and enriching all landlords.
Not only ought MP landlords declare their interest in UK land but they should also withdraw themselves from all debates and votes on the subject.
Taxpayers Against Poverty