By Alistair Farrow
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Housing is a ‘safe place’ for money, say rich property developers

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Issue 2577
Edward Lister (left) boasted that Britain is a very safe place to come and put your money
Edward Lister (left) boasted that Britain is ‘a very safe place to come and put your money’ (Pic: EG Focus/Flickr creative commons)

Property developers, politicians and investors descended on Kensington Olympia in west London to carve up the housing market last week.

They debated the way forward at the Mipim property fair. Grenfell Tower wasn’t mentioned in any of the sessions Socialist Worker went to.

Sir Edward Lister from the Department for International Trade was candid about his vision. “We need 100,000 more homes a year,” he said at an investors’ breakfast. “We want numbers. That’s all we’re interested in.”

He went on to outline how the state helps the rich do business. “We are still a very safe place to come and put your money,”he said. “There’s a lot of cash coming in from those sources.”

Lister introduced Duncan Sutherland from Sigma Capital PLC as an example of how his department negotiates deals on behalf of the rich and powerful.

‘We’d take money off the devil’—meet the property speculators carving up your city
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Sutherland described how Sigma attracted investment from Kuwait which “gave us the ability to build a substantial amount of houses for private rent, and no one else was doing it.”

Other speakers were more guarded with their language.

Jules Pipe, London’s deputy mayor for planning and regeneration, agreed with the bosses. “For too long mixed use has been a multi-storey tower block on top of a shop.” he said.

“We see it for more as what is being described here.”

Behind the buzzwords is a brutal vision—one of social cleansing and the privatisation of public space.

The London mayor’s office is on the side of the most notorious companies in the housing industry.

Developers and investors, encouraged by the government, are eyeing up people’s homes as investment opportunities.

Labour councils must be pressured to stand against them. Nothing good will come of trying to outsmart the bosses at their own game—they’ve rigged the deck.


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