Whitstable Views: Our nation needs new council houses

Rented accommodation in Whitstable
Rented accommodation in Whitstable

Housing crisis UK

I was looking through some of my old articles last week. There was one about my attempts to find a flat in Whitstable a few years back.

I went to look at a studio flat on Tankerton Road. It consisted of one room with barely enough space to fit a double bed in, a stair cupboard with a shower and toilet squeezed underneath, and a Formica top meant to represent the kitchen.

“Living there would make you go insane,” I wrote. “A man could end up committing suicide in a flat like that.” The rent was £275 per calendar month. This was nearly ten years ago now.

The cost of flats has continued to rise since then. The cheapest I’ve seen recently is £650 a month for a one-bedroom flat. Prices go up steadily after that, to approaching £2,000 a month.

There is a housing crisis, not only in our town, but throughout the country.

It derives directly from the right to buy policy instituted by the Tories back in the eighties, as a way of breaking up the old Labour supporting council estates. The responsibility for housing was handed over to the private sector. Almost no council house building has taken place in the intervening years.

Meanwhile much of the old council housing stock has reappeared on the market as buy to let property. A recent study by the National Housing Federation has shown that the number of people living in private rented accomodation and claiming Housing Benefit has risen by 42% since 2008.

Building council houses

The cost to the taxpayer of directly supplementing private landlords through the Housing Benefit system was £9.3 billion last year. Much of that has gone directly into the pockets of some of the most wealthy people in our country. Ten members of the Sunday Times Rich List received a total of £2,032,000 in Housing Benefit in 2014.

Jeremy Corbyn has promised a massive programme of council house building to begin addressing the housing shortage.

People ask how we can afford this? But look at the figures: how can we afford not to?

© 2016 Whitstable Views

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Comments 2 comments

diogenes profile image

diogenes 7 weeks ago from UK and Mexico

Hi, Chris: A lot of water under the bridge. Britain is an impossible place to live in 2016. I am sure, this time, we are going to implode. Everywhere you look scams rule. We have no real leaders...perhaps Corbyn would be OK, but they won't leave him alone. I am 76 now and diabetic. Even the NHS has become next to useless and I find myself being dragged into the private sector to get help.

I voted to leave Europe, but this is being used to destroy us further until we beg for another chance to vote.

Nice to see you still hanging in down there

Bob challen

Whitstable Views profile image

Whitstable Views 7 weeks ago from Whitstable, UK Author

Hello Bob, ta. Long time no see. I've been caught up in other things and have neglected this site, but plan to start using it again in the near future.

I also voted to leave and agree that Britain is very nearly impossible, but hope that Corbyn (or a new revived Labour Party under Corbyn) can effect some changes.

Keep on keeping on Bob. It's all we can do.


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