Here’s Dai Davies’ letter to the Guardian:
Your report on the “shell-shocked” state of the private housebuilding sector (Persimmon cuts value of its land bank by £600m, October 28), followed by your online report (Home repossessions and arrears rise as borrowers struggle, October 28) demonstrate starkly how housing demand and affordable supply are chronically out of phase.
Yvette Cooper, the former minister for housing – now the friendly face of Treasury policy on helping the hard-pressed with hope over homes – regularly pops up all over the media pledging ministers are doing all they can. They are not.
Yesterday her Treasury colleague Dr Ian Pearson responded to my written questions asking the chancellor if he would make it his policy to take possession of homes on which mortgage-holders with Northern Rock and Bradford & Bingley have defaulted and allocate the properties to those on the waiting list for social housing with the negative: “Northern Rock and Bradford & Bingley are run at arm’s length from the Government, on commercial principles.”
What is the benefit to taxpayers of keeping these banks alive, if they cannot be directed to helping people in dire housing difficulty? Dr Pearson added: “The Government have made increasing the provision of social housing a priority … In England, the Government are investing £8 billion over the next three years in affordable housing – a 50 per cent increase over the last three years.”
The situation is there are empty houses and flats and homeless people, which could be a win-win opportunity, but ministers refuse to require banks capitalised by taxpayers’ money to match the two together. Why not?
Dai Davies MP
Independent, Blaenau Gwent
Permanent Revolution reports on planned protests over the banking bailout and housing:
STOP REPOSSESSIONS – everyone needs a home 11.00am, Saturday 1st November, Northern Rock, Manchester
Northern Rock is repossessing homes and kicking families out on the streets twice as fast as any other bank in the country. Nationalised banks should be run in the interests of working people not taking their homes and making them destitute.
Back last November when Northern Rock faced collapse and queues of worried savers stretched around the block, Gordon Brown’s Labour government stepped in to nationalise the bank, guaranteeing its deposits.
Now, as thousands of mortgage holders are threatened by repossession and negative equity, when asked why Labour was allowing Northern Rock to aggressively evict families, Gordon Brown said, “ministers did not run the business.” So they own it but they don’t want to run it. This is madness!
PROTEST OUTSIDE NORTHERN ROCK MANCHESTER
11.00am, Saturday 1st November, Northern Rock, Manchester branch,
at 1 Princess Street, Albert Square.
Protest called by the Convention of The Left, Manchester
READ OUR LEAFLET at http://www.conventionoftheleft.org/resources/Northern%20rock_homeprint.pdf
(NB: Extra printed copies of this leaflet will be available to take away after the protest for local activities, stall, etc.)
Manchester students have also organised a Halloween protest against “a gruesome cast of vampire bankers” outside Northern Rock on Friday 31st October from 4.00pm-6.00pm. Bring Halloween costumes to give Brown and the bankers a nightmare. Read leaflet at http://www.conventionoftheleft.org/resources/NR_311008.pdf
John McDonnell, the socialist Labour MP and supporter of the Convention of the Left said: “We fully nationalised Northern Rock, yet the government’s bank is becoming the most ruthless re-possessor under the cosh of government pressure to repay the loans.The government needs to come up fast with a ‘recession-proof’ strategy of halting repossessions and converting mortgages into homes for social rent.”