Alan Walters

I am very sorry to hear that Alan Walters, the chair of Defend Council Housing has suddenly passed away. Alan Walters was the chair of the organisation, which I supported before I knew that people in housing need now have a better choice of accommodation.
Homeless persons still have to be housed, but instead of getting council flats, councils how find them private accommodation for 3 times or more the rent it would cost in a council flat. Councils even pay the deposit.
Who pays for this its the tax payer.
Incidentally, at the same time as this Labour government brought us the biggest recession ever, it drives privatisation when the economy is in decline, housing repossession are at record levels and house prices sink.
It would have been much more sensible to tie privatisation to the GDP and not drive privatisation when the economy is down.
Privatisation only works when the economy is up and growing, which it doesn’t right now for various reasons.
Please see here the Defend Council Housing calculator. The lack of funding for council housing has artificially driven private rents up. Councils pay around £320 rent per week to find a homeless person a 2 bed-room flat. This 2 bed flat would cost £70 per week the most as council flat.
Unfortunately I blame the sell off of council flats and I think this is the worst decision that was ever made. It may have looked at good idea at the time because the economy was growing and it looked promising but it doesn’t look promising now.
We now see an increased shortage of housing and families have nowhere to go cheaply. It’s becoming increasingly difficult for people on low incomes to start a family and find somewhere to live.
What we have seen is an increasing privatisation of services like housing, health and now even the Post Office but the banks have gone broke and banks are now the ones who are subsidised by the state.
Why should banks be state owned and services like housing, health and postal services be private?
We are constantly encouraged to borrow more again, when borrowing brought us into this trouble in the first place.
I think the financial world turned on its head.
Businesses and organisations won’t have any chance or choice in the matter, they have to opt for private finance, which will make the business depending on the finance decisions of the lender or third sector.
The housing standards of the third sector are lower than those of the social housing criteria. The recent City Pride tower block to be built in Tower Hamlets, prides itself for being expensive to buy but rooms being too small for social housing needs. A little puzzling that the rich should pay more for less room.
I think in Japan they sell cupboards, the size of a bunk bed, the shape of things to come for those who can afford it.
But the organisational standards for private enterprise are most likely higher and if that is coupled with schooling we should see an improvement in standards overall. I have seen the dialectic between the social and private housing sector as being one of actual need and the private housing sector lingers around waiting to discriminate poor stand ins whom they now accept to earn some money in between, and they wait for the economy to pick up so that they can become more selective in choice of tenants.
One must drive on the will to achieve that is for sure and as much as I support Council Housing I would also insist on a need for quality control of those who use the system.
Looking at it in financial terms how much it costs to build a block of flats for council rent, maintain it and provide secondary services provision compared with the cost of renting out per week, I do not know I would have to ask the statistics.
Practise rules Alan Walter’s efforts fruitless because the need for housing is now so imminent that preferences are given to mothers with children or parents with children and that young couples without kids have a problem to get a place,  but I suppose seeking solace in Tax credits and housing benefits will resolve many problems and the private housing sector is always willing to rent out to make ends meet.
All in all the Defend Council Housing is a bit of a Dinasaur that needs to be laid to rest.

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Roly Skinner, Albert Square
    May 19, 2009 @ 17:09:39

    Personally I find the penultimate sentence in your comment most telling and also very interesting. Could you elaborate on it please?


    • jkaschke
      May 19, 2009 @ 17:34:13

      You mean about the rough sleepers? We do get homeless persons sleeping in stair wells on the local estates and social services patrol the area to help those people with such problems.


  2. Ronan Keating
    May 19, 2009 @ 10:42:07

    Please continue to explain your thoughts. They are fascinating.


    • jkaschke
      May 19, 2009 @ 10:47:46

      Thanks I am flattered but too busy to continue unless you wish to ask something specific perhaps?


  3. Ronan Point
    May 18, 2009 @ 23:04:44

    I th ink the main Point that needs to be made here is that Any Form oF Housing Is BETTER than Homelessness. If the Dinosaurs that are Council Housing were still alive today, the Flyby-Night-Runaways, the Ryan Air Mortgages of this Great Britain would have never left the Taxiing Range and the Short HOngkong Landing Strip, and many people in the UK would be greatful and be able to enjoy their own four walls in the comfort of their own home, unlike the current situation. Better a diplodocus or a t-rex than negative equity. Or do you disagree, what’s your opinion? And what is the Conservative’s policy on this? Modern, dangerious, small DC-10s, or refurbished triceratops?


    • jkaschke
      May 19, 2009 @ 06:05:24

      Well thanks for the contribution and to start at the last point you made, the Conservative Policy has been manifested in Margaret Thatcher’s idea to make council homes available for sale, which was a good one in times of economic prosperity, which we had under the Conservatives; can you still remember how nice it was?
      Now to the beginning of your comment! Surely any kind of housing is better than none, we don’t want tin-shack shanty towns, our whole civilisation is built of organisation and service for our daily lives. That is good, so that ensures the safety and well-being of our citizens.
      For the middle of your comment, I cannot isolate housing from the other factors that play a role, e.g. immigration, economy, public administration and population growth.
      I think we have to put our thinking caps on and devise a strategy whereby people are educated into not having lots and lots of children because to ensure a good standard of living we need space, we need to be able to provide a comfortable home for each family, person to call their home and castle and the faster the population grows, the less time there is to build those comfortable homes for persons, the more people the less homes with gardens are possible. And it is the most difficult task to find a fair policy to ensure that everyone has the right to make choices and have children without discrimination.
      Personally I think we have to make do with what we got and I think we are not doing a bad job of it. I see less homeless people in the streets and in the neighbourhood we try hard to follow up reports of rough sleepers because what we don’t want is homeless people sleeping in the stairwells of blocks of flats.
      Now I could write on this forever but I hope this little excerpt of thoughts, helps.


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