Friday, 25 January 2013

The Localis Document: Blueprint for the Destruction of Social Housing

The image above is the title page of the Localis Principles for Social Housing Reform document. It was published in 2009 by think-tank Localis and authored by Stephen Greenhalgh and John Moss. Stephen Greenhalgh is a Tory dirtbag who’s currently under investigation by the IPCC for offering preferential treatment to tenants on new housing if they OK’d the demolition of their existing homes. John Moss is another Tory, who ran for election in 2005 and has worked under Lord Heseltine.

The document set out the trajectory-of-attack on social housing —and as soon as the Conservatives got into power they set the fucking thing in motion. It’s a horrible piece of ideology that will make your fingernails explode, but the truly stomach churning bit is Appendix 1, in which Greenhalgh and Moss set out the necessary amendments and repeals to legislation that would bring the social housing sector close to total privatisation.

Alterations to legislation involved recommending repealing all sections of Local Government Acts “limiting the ability of councils to operate commercially”; and abolish all sections of the 1989 Local Government and Housing Act to allow “controlled and influenced companies” to operate on a par with private companies. Most insiders will say here that this is standard stuff, common knowledge. But it’s not if you don’t know. Tenants are still working out how the Bedroom Tax will affect them personally, never mind think-tank policy that’s been worked on for years, decades even, by squads of Tory professionals.

Regarding the Bedroom Tax, it is disturbing to now see it in its true form: a mechanism to enable the reconfiguration of social housing into private housing at market rents; and even more disturbing to see human lives cast aside for daring to live in homes the government now sees as profitable units for the taking. Those monitoring Universal Credit will be interested to see the proposal to “abolish the Housing Benefits scheme” and “enable a new means-tested unified benefit to provide for a single housing and income support benefit.” Ring any bells?

The Localis document is also punctuated with myths about “inter-generational dependency”, worklessness, and the deserving/undeserving rhetoric picked up by suits throughout parliament to score votes and block solidarity amongst the working class. Localis even go as far as enabling “councils to discharge their homelessness duties” to free up housing for more “economically active households.”

The clincher, though, is the “[o]ther areas needing examination/amendment” section of Appendix 1, which calls for the removal of “anything which limits the powers of housing associations, Trusts, or similar bodies to trade commercially for community benefit, including the creation of for-market dwellings” and “amend any clauses which prohibit housing associations, Trusts, or similar bodies from operating for profit, and paying dividends of more than £1 to shareholders”. Says it all really.

Beneath DWP pretences of “growing housing benefit expenditure” and the housing ‘crisis’ glowers a renewed accumulation of our common resources by private interests, aided by the State. It amounts to an attack on the poor by the rich; and this document provided, and is providing, the pathway to destroying the remainder of our social housing.

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