Monday, 12 March 2012

NewBarnConversionBuy: Cameron Unites Country

Proof again, if proof were needed, that Dave Cam is the man for us, the man who has united the country in ways that nobody foresaw. Little did townies, urban folk and ecologists know they had so much in common on the subject of trees until Dave tried to flog them off to paper manufacturers at a fraction of their worth. Little did hospital porters unions, nurses and the Royal College Of Surgeons have in common until Dave tried to flog off the NHS through a scheme that was so poorly thought out that he didn't understand it (though a good few private vultures have been cicling with drool dripping on the ground below).

Now we have the crowning glory of malaise in the housing market: taxpayer-funded mortgages so you can buy your own barn conversion. Not one in the same area as the Camerons or the Brooks but half a million quid will still get you quite a nice place in several parts of the country. You can get small mining villages for less, especially if they're in the middle of land being sold for fracking.

Yes folks, Cameron has revived the Right To Buy scheme. There's a vast shortage of social housing so he's offering huge discounts to buy, erm, social housing. This was Thatcher's poor man's version of Reaganomics, together with those carboot sales of public companies that mean we now pay huge amounts for gas to French firms and can't get a bus after six o'clock. Live in a public rented house for five years and you can buy it for a 35% discount. Further discounts for every extra year resident. Capitalism at its finest!

Allied to this is the NewBuy Guarantee - where first-time buyers will be able to get taxpayer-underwritten mortgages for new build properties up to half a million pounds in cost. Now, I seem to remember the US being brought to its knees by toxic mortgages so we'll assume even Osborne has done some sums here - mortgages only if you can afford the payments, mortgages up to 95% of valuation (put aside the fact that we all know valuations are always less than purchase price). Banks and building societies already have money for such levels of borrowing - they are just choosing not to lend it - why not? Well, could it be because they've actually learned some lessons from recent property bubbles? Could it be that they're nervous about people (Dave and George) mucking around with the housing market and causing another little bubble?

I live in a part of the country that has suffered dreadfully over the years, often through Tory depradations. I can see plenty of new properties around, many available through shared equity schemes. Yet they remain empty. One could question the wisdom of building new estates in areas of high unemployment. One might even show one's communist credentials and ask why those new estates weren't built and let to socially needy tenants. Be that as it may, and with all the tax advantages already available to the construction industry (huge lobbies, of course) - now we have another scheme to help that industry. Build your Barrett boxes, the taxpayer will help you sell them. And pay for the infrastructure, the schools, the hospitals etc that new estates demand.

Back to the sell off of what we used to call council houses. I once watched a bit of property porn, a TV programme where a butch American woman and a camp Englishman were called in to hard-to-sell properties. (They told people to tidy the rubbish away and paint the place.) The property on this show was an ex-council flat in London. The owner had bought under Right To Buy for £50 thousand. Five years later she was determined to make £250,000 profit. Several beige walls and a potted plant later, she did. All I could do was shake my head.

I won't link to the articles that are starting to appear in UK newspapers. The ones that mention families being forced into B&B, eight to a room and ten families to a kitchen. Apparently private landlords in areas of high demand are already refusing to renew tenancies in anticipation of promised government legislation enabling them to fill their boots again. I won't link to the articles on the increase in rough sleepers (a lifestyle choice, said one Tory recently). I will confess to a most unChristian wish that a certain ex police horse had taken its chance to kick Cameron in the head .

I have a theory that Cameron suffers from chronic flatulence and that his insufferable expression is an attempt to look innocent as all around clutch their noses. Or he could just be a smug git: David Cameron Looking Smug.


Carol Fisher said...

Paul, I couldn't agree more. I remember Thatcher's right to buy scheme and it was obvious that the consequence of it would be a shortage of social housing for those who really need it. The fact that this idiot government has resurrected it shouldn't surprise me but I really thought even they wouldn't be so stupid.

I despair, I really do. I thought Thatcher was bad but this lot are worse. How do you get out of a recession? By putting people out of work, so reducing tax income and increasing the amount of benefits the government has to pay. That really helps to bring down the national debt.

As for their plans for the NHS - I don't know how they have the effrontery when they have no mandate to make such sweeping changes. If they want to do this, they should call an election and put their proposals for the NHS in their manifesto. Of course, they don't dare.

That's my rant over for today!

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