Writing in Belfast newspaper, the Irish News, Newton Emerson argues that many of the UK’s political problems can be blamed directly on the broken housing market.
“If you wanted to find a single cause behind the calamitous state of British politics you could do worse than look at the broken housing market,” it could even explain Brexit, says Emerson.
By successive governments creating as situation where many people in England feel “ghettoised” and the country is ‘full’, in the minds of some Leave voters, would it be the same if most working people could buy where they liked?, asks Emerson
He cites a recent report in January 2017, which identifies “patterns of chain migration” where immigrants are clustering together, which he thinks is driving racial division in England’s cities, and further he argues that the private rented sector (PRS) market is “trapping communities in overcrowded slums.”
The rise of Corbynism, Emerson claims, based on an analysis of voting patterns, is a reflection of the frustrations of many middle-class voters, as well as working-class people. They feel “locked out of home ownership… the gateway to adulthood in our society, yet now a struggle across swathes of England even for educated professionals in their 40s.”
The irony is that Theresa May almost lost an election because of a proposed so-called ‘dementia tax’ on housing, which as Emerson identifies, was a policy more wealth redistributive than anything in Labour’s “money tree” manifesto. The strength of feeling around property wealth is so strong, argues Emerson, that “people insist on carrying it, Pharaoh-like, into the afterlife.”
Jermey Corbyn, backed by a swath of Labour MPs, responded in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire by demanding, against the principles of 600 years of established personal property rights, freedom and democracy in England, that empty homes in Kensington and Chelsea be requisition by the state, for the benefit of the dispossessed.
The lack of affordable housing in London is being blamed on the hordes of wealthy foreign investors who “buy-to-leave” their premises empty, as a safe place to park their money in an unsafe world, where London has seen stable and steadily rising property prices.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan recently campaigned for office citing the “buy-to-leave” phenomenon as a root cause of the London property crisis. He even commissioned a report from the London School of Economics (LSE), into the problem.
However, the report which was published recently found that over 99 per cent of properties in London owned by foreign investors was fully occupied, an indication of the London housing supply shortage.
Typical foreign owners, it seems, are not generally the typically imagined Russian oligarchs, but the an ordinary middle-class South East Asian investing their hard earned savings and perhaps mortgaging their own home to invest in Britain. It seems there is a wave of foreign capital flowing into the British housing market from this source, even after the Brexit vote.
The foreign investment in some ways is good for Britain, as most of it is invested in new housing, but then most of this new-build goes for renting – we have developed, as Emerson says, a “remorseless international mechanism has been created whereby the new Asian middle-class turns the former British middle-class into its tenants,”, what’s more this has spread outside of London.
Investment in student accommodation in other big cities including Manchester and Belfast is becoming evident for everyone to see – just count the number of cranes in these cities.
Emerson worries that we are turning back “into a society of tenants and absentee landlords,” only this time on a global scale, and warns where that might inevitable lead.
Broken Housing Market underlies UK’s political crisis https://t.co/JgKuB5avAm
— LandlordZONE (@LandlordZONE) July 3, 2017