A Basic Need
The importance of housing is recognised in the United Nations Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which includes 'the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate ... housing'. The United Kingdom is legally bound by this treaty.
This high flown declaration is farcical in view of the housing crisis largely brought about by regulation and more regulation to the point of paralysis in the provision of housing and the replacement of substandard housing stock.
‘A coroner has said the death of an “engaging, lively, endearing” two-year-old from prolonged exposure to mould in his family’s flat should be a “defining moment” for the UK’s housing sector.
Awaab Ishak died in 2020, eight days after his second birthday, as a direct result of black mould in the flat he lived in.
About 450,000 homes in England have problems with condensation and mould and the verdict triggered calls from paediatric doctors for better reporting of air quality problems in homes. And England’s housing ombudsman, Richard Blakeway, said landlords must make plans to tackle the “real risk of worsening damp and mould issues” as energy bills soar.
Michael Gove, the levelling up, housing and communities secretary, said the death was “an unacceptable tragedy” and that “it beggars belief” that the chief executive of the social housing provider was still in office. But he also said the government had been too slow to toughen regulation of social housing.’
So Michael Gove passes the buck and insists that even more regulation is the answer. What a shock.
The Scottish government goes one better and is limiting private landlords to a 3% increase, and at the same time imposing more and more stringent regulations on the housing market. That is the future appropriation of private assets not through nationalisation but overbearing regulation for political ends.
Quite simply after nearly ninety years of Welfarism the basic need of adequate housing is not being met. The ‘homes fit for heroes’ a state promise made in 1918.
Much of the colossal cost of housing stems largely from the Planning Acts. Which gave the right of objection to people who had no ownership of land or property whatsoever. Small builders and the self-builder have been squeezed out of both providing housing and apprenticeships in favour of the big few corporates who build the same type of cramped housing from Lands End to John O’groats , because there is far more money to be made converting greenfield farming land into residential land with the all important planning permission piece of paper.
Most of the population are crammed into a line south of the Wash to the Severn.
The prettiest villages and towns in modern day England and Wales have never seen a planning officer in the last three hundred years. There was a local vernacular in architecture.
This party subscribes to the concept of free cities, where local populations decide what their housing needs are and act accordingly to satisfy that need. Not respond to the diktat of Whitehall and the sound bites of people like Gove.
The problems are further compounded by forty five thousand illegals in 2022 alone putting pressure on the housing supply.
Many former servicemen now living on the streets deserve better. We have long advocated the Ministry of Defence, one of the largest landowners in the country, dedicate redundant sites to housing their own, rather than pitching a sale to large corporations on land that was acquired by compulsory purchase or by appropriation in World War Two.
What we allow will continue.
Andrew Withers FRSA