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Another taxpayer handout to landlords

Demand for rented accommodation in London exceeds supply. The result: rents go up and many tenants are being forced to move out. In January the government is cutting the local housing allowance so that poorer tenants will have their subsidy reduced by anything from £9 – £74 per week. Shelter estimate that 130,000 households will either be evicted or forced to move.

To mitigate the effects of this ‘reform’ the government say that they are making £190m available to local councils to help people affected. If you were a landlord, knowing there is a pot of taxpayers’ money available, what would you do? How can the government be so blind?

It is not helpful to refer to a housing “crisis”. There is not a crisis. There has been a shortage of housing for about the past 300 years at least, almost continuously. That is not a crisis. There is a chronic problem with the housing market. With building costs at around £1000 per square metre, housing IS affordable. What is not affordable is the land that housing stands on, which, we should not forget, costs nothing to produce.

The only solution is to bring vacant houses into use, to ensure that when planning consent has been granted, the development actually happens. It has been estimated that there are 300,000 outstanding planning consents.

The only way to get vacant houses into occupation and approved developments built quickly is to is to put a levy on the annual rental value of all land. But none of the main parties are proposing that.

Observer article: Families face fast-track eviction to help landlords cash in on higher rents