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Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Homelessness rises as cuts bite and councils dispose of housing

According to an article in WalesOnline, 
"Swansea has the highest rate of people seeking housing help in England and Wales, with six families in every 1,000 households approaching the council between October and December last year." Full article: http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/2012/04/04/homelessness-increases-in-wales-thanks-to-continued-downturn-91466-30686950/
Falling household incomes, due to the recession and directly as a result of government policies such as wage freezes, reduced pensions and public sector job losses mean workers can no longer keep up payments on mortgages. The expiry of limited-duration cheap mortgage rates also mean that home owners are seeing the cost of their mortgages shooting up at a time when they can least afford it, despite low interest base rates.

Often the only choice for young workers is now between the private rented sector and staying at home with their parents, given the lack of available council housing. Around the country councils run by all political parties have disposed of their council housing, through stock transfers. In the process they have eroded the conditions of housing workers and the security of council tenants. The Liberal-Democrats were defeated in their attempt to transfer out housing in Swansea, despite spending thousands on consultants to try to convince tenants to vote for it. However Labour has carried through this part-privatisation measure in neighbouring Neath and Port Talbot. The costs of private renting are shooting up because of  the enormous demand, as more and more workers can't afford the huge deposits now needed for mortgages and can't get council housing.

The previous Labour bailed the banks out with £billions of our money and demanded nothing in return. While chief executives continued to receive their obscene bonuses, the banks refused to lend to working class people. Worse still, some of the banks that were majority-owned by the government were among the quickest to repossess the homes of working class families struggling to pay their mortgages. Rather than propping up banks that contributed to the financial crash, they should have been fully nationalised under workers control and their resources used to provide working class families with affordable mortgages and councils with affordable loans to provide services in working class communities.

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