Socialist Worker

Landlords double their profit from housing benefit in just a decade

New figures show how the Tories are pushing the market into housing—and the damage it does, says Alistair Farrow

Issue No. 2518

Rental signs in London

Rental signs in London (Pic: Flickr/Lars Plougmann)


The amount of housing benefit going to private landlords has doubled to £9.3 billion over the last decade. The figure comes from a new report by the National Housing Federation.

The amount of people receiving housing benefit who live in private accommodation has increased from one claimant in four to one in three since 2008.

People living in privately rented housing receive £110 a week in benefit, almost a quarter more than the £89 a week received by those renting in social housing.

This difference partly explains the disparity between the increases in the number of claimants and the total being pocketed by landlords.

It also shows the ideological nature of the changes the government is making in its bid to push the market further into housing.

The Tories’ housing policies have created this scandal while their mates in the private housing industry cash in. So do the more than a a third of Tory MPs who are themselves private landlords.

Policy

Right to Buy—the Thatcherite policy of selling off council homes—was extended under Brandon Lewis, the former Tory minister for housing. It allowed private landlords to buy up council homes to let out to private tenants at market rates.

The Housing and Planning Act will accelerate this process, forcing councils to sell off “higher value” property.

In London and other areas “higher value” means anywhere with a roof and four walls.

The Scottish government scrapped Right to Buy on 31 July. And Scotland and Wales are largely exempt from the Housing and Planning Act.

The struggle against the Act is a crucial for the future of housing in England.

It is set to come into effect in April 2017 and will force working class people out of areas that property developers are eyeing up.

It needs to be made unworkable. Activists can put pressure on Labour councils to refuse to collect the data needed to implement the policy.

Housing officials in 20 London boroughs demanded this month that Tory minister for housing and planning Gavin Barwell “urgently pause the implementation of the Housing and Planning Act”.

This is a good start. However, it will not be enough to defeat a key piece of Tory policy.

The Axe the Housing Act campaign is holding a summit on 10 October in central London. It will bring together councillors and activists from across London and England to organise the resistance to the Act and will be a crucial next step.

Keep up to date with the Axe the Housing Act campaign. See Axe the Housing Act—secure homes for all on Facebook
The Unite union's Community section is organising a housing crisis roadshow across the south east of England. For details go to bit.ly/2b93akJ

Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.