Your leader (23rd January) is correct to defend the "right to buy" council houses. However, it falls into the common trap of assuming that it is beneficial to reinvest council house sale proceeds in âsocial housingâ. "Social" is a weasel word in this context. What is a non-social house?. Social housing is a euphemism for council controlled (if not owned) housing. To spend the proceeds of council house sales on more council housing is like privatising the Post Office to renationalise British Telecom.
It is fifty years of state control of land development that has made housing unaffordable. Eighty five years of state and municipal control of housing has also been a disaster. Housing needs to be liberalised, not socialised. Any housing subsidies should be attached to dwellers and not to dwellings. Instead of transferring local authority housing to a single, monopoly âsocialâ housing landlord, as happens under the current policy of large scale voluntary stock transfer, policy should encourage transfer of housing within a given area to a range of different private and voluntary sector landlords. This would create genuine competition and allow those who wanted to rent to choose their own landlord.