Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2124

Stop the repo man

This article is over 15 years, 7 months old
Why is Brown letting his banks steal our homes?
Issue 2124
 (Photomontage: Simon Assaf)
(Photomontage: Simon Assaf)

Thousands of people in Britain are threatened with losing their homes and Gordon Brown is refusing to take any action to stop it.

Brown is now effectively in charge of four of Britain’s high street banks – Northern Rock, Bradford & Bingley, Royal Bank of Scotland and HBOS – having spent billions of our money to bail them out.

There is no reason why Brown could not ban home repossessions by banks that are owned by the government.

Yet instead the evidence suggests that part-nationalised banks are repossessing people’s homes even more aggressively.

Northern Rock was the first bank to be nationalised by the government back in February. It repossessed 3,710 homes in the first six months of this year – over 20 a day.

That’s almost four times as many homes repossessed as the industry average in the first half of this year. It has also forced its borrowers onto higher repayment rates – making defaults and repossessions more likely.

Responding to the Northern Rock figures, Brown passed the buck. He said the bank was being run ‘at arm’s length from government’.

Repossession is already causing misery for thousands of working class people. Millions more fear that their homes will come under threat. And all this will only get worse as the recession deepens.

There were 19,000 repossessions in the first half of the year. It’s estimated that this will reach 45,000 by the end of the year – double the number for 2007.

The madness of the housing market means that repossessed homes stand empty while thousands are homeless or living in overcrowded housing.

A development of flats in Thamesmead, south London, has 82 of its 84 flats repossessed and empty. Meanwhile, some 333,860 people are on the waiting list for council or housing association homes in London.

The government grabbed headlines this week by promising to buy up empty homes. But the first phase of this plan will provide funds to buy just 335 homes.

In July this year there were 760,000 empty homes in Britain. If the government can take over 335 empty homes then, why can’t it take over all of them?

There is a simple step that the government could take – stop throwing people out of their homes in the first place.

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