Ed Miliband on the right track to protect tenants renting from private sectors


MilibandMy thoughts on Young Miliband plans to protect tenants from private landlords:

Grahame Morris MP recently highlighted:

“This is the year when Ed Miliband, the Labour Party and the wider labour movement must translate a consistently respectable opinion-poll lead into a solid, unassailable lead – the sort of lead that will drive this Con-Dem coalition into the sea at the general election”.


25728-1-Grahame-Morris-MP1On face value Miliband and the Labour Party have everything going for them.

The public are now realising the fact that George Osborne’s voodoo austerity economics has choked off any economic recovery and we now stand on the brink of a triple-dip recession.

They have watched as David Cameron and Nick Clegg have blundered and U-turned on everything from forestry privatisation to same-sex marriage, and they are increasingly disturbed by the coalition’s attacks on the poor, the old, the unemployed, or simply those who have children.

We need to oppose and expose the plans to cap housing benefit at £500, an arbitrary figure that takes no account of where people live. It is high time also that Labour’s front bench recognised that the vicious circle of private landlords increasing rents merely for the taxpayer to pick up the tab needs to be halted.

We need to institute a new policy of rent controls and rent-adjusted areas in expensive cities – just as Mayor Michael Bloomberg, no great left-winger, does in New York City.

Miliband has rightly moved away from some of the top-down authoritarian ways of new Labour.

By the last election we had lost around five million voters who perceived that there was little difference between the main parties. Many also felt Labour had betrayed them over the Iraq war.

Common too was the feeling that the party had strayed too far from its roots and was opening the door to a substantial increase in outsourcing and privatisation.

Those chickens are now coming home to roost, as first Andrew Lansley and now Rupert Murdoch’s little helper Jeremy Hunt attempt to hand over as much of our NHS to private companies such as Virgin Healthcare and Carillion as is possible.

Some £7 billion of our money has now been handed over to these corporate parasites, whose first priority will always be to their shareholders and not their patients.

Young Miliband is correct to highlight this issue in regards to the private housing sector as their recent has increased and their tenants have very little protection unlike if you rent from the council housing where there is some protection.

Let’s not forget the chairman of a private equity firm told councils to scrap building affordable homes in favour of an expansion of the private-rented sector on 22 August 2012.

In a government-commissioned report 3i chairman Adrian Montague said councils should use their powers to waive the requirements to build homes for those on lower incomes to increase the number of properties built to let.

His report said that while the desirability of affordable housing should not be ruled out it should be weighed against the benefits already built into market rent developments.

The review also recommends setting up a task force to encourage build-to-let investment and the release of unused publicly owned land for development.

Housing Minister Grant Shapps (right) said the report offered a “blueprint” to expand the sector.

“In the past it’s often been seen as the Cinderella of the housing market, but when over three million people rely on this sector for their home, this is clearly no longer the case,” he said.

But critics warned the move would boost the number of properties for private rent at the expense of creating “much needed” affordable homes sought by those struggling to get a foothold on the property ladder.

National Housing Federation head David Orr said: “While we agree that there needs to be more private-market rented housing, this should not be at the expense of affordable homes.

Homeless charity Shelter said the report offered “nothing for the millions of people already in the sector, paying sky-high rents and living under constant threat of eviction or further rent rises.”

Local Government Association environment and housing board chairman Mike Jones agreed that “any strategy to boost the number of new rental homes should not come at the expense of new affordable housing”.

I stringly concur with Labour’s shadow housing minister Jack Dromey who said “Huge cuts to government investment in housing, a lack of liquidity in the finance markets, the failure of banks to lend to homebuyers and stagnating demand are the real hurdles to viability – not the cost of providing much-needed affordable housing.”

Working families are struggling to afford rocketing rent as ruthless landlords cash in on the economic crisis, housing charity Shelter said today.

It warned that average private rents are beyond the means of “ordinary” families in 55 per cent of local authorities.

Homes were found in these areas which cost more than 35 per cent of the median local take-home pay – the level considered by Shelter to be unaffordable.

Shelter chief executive Campbell Robb said: “We have become depressingly familiar with first-time buyers being priced out of the housing market but the impact of unaffordable rents is more dramatic.”

Private rents in 8 per cent of local authorities in England were “extremely unaffordable” – with average rents costing 50 per cent or more of full-time take-home pay.

Just 12 per cent of areas were deemed affordable, with rents sitting below 30 per cent of wages.

Researchers found that it is more affordable to rent in Manchester, Liverpool or Birmingham than in north Devon, north Dorset or Herefordshire.

But cheaper areas such as Blackpool are still classed as “unaffordable” due to the relatively low level of the median income.

London was the most expensive, with the average monthly rent for a two-bedroom home in the capital standing at £1,360 – almost two and a half times the £568 average in the rest of England.

The highest private rent for a two-bedroom home was in Kensington and Chelsea, at £2,714 a month, while the lowest was in Burnley, Lancashire, at £394.

Mr Campbell Robb went on to state  “With no cheaper alternative, ordinary people are forced to cut their spending on essentials like food and heating, or uproot and move away from jobs, schools and families.”

Council housing campaigners said the report showed the need for greater investment in affordable and publicly owned homes.

Defend Council Housing chairwoman Eileen Short said: “Twenty years of underinvestment has meant we now have 2 million less council and housing association properties in Britain.

“Only now the politicians are waking up to what people on the ground are all too aware of – the desperate need for decent really affordable

To top it all off anyone who opposes “bringing competition into schools, health and welfare services” is a “guerilla” who needs to be dealt with by Vietnam-style counterinsurgency methods.

That’s the view of Sean Worth, PM David Cameron‘s special adviser on health until last June, expressed in a recent Telegraph article.

“Hardliners who lost recent battles over social reforms” are now “regrouping for a new wave of local-level disruption,” he warns.

Worth means that teachers, nurses, doctors and parents want to fight Tory privatisation plans.

When he says they “lost” I think he means the Tories succeeded in getting their “reform” Bills through Parliament.

But he’s now clearly worried that these Westminster victories are threatened by national resistance.

“While Michael Gove impressively chalks up the wins in Westminster debates, localised strikes and threats of walkouts by unions are being organised,” he says.

Socialist, “hard left” and trade union activists are “mobilising to infiltrate” to defeat health and education privatisation – though they seem to be “infiltrating” the schools and hospitals in which they work.

Worth concedes that privatisers of all parties should “acknowledge their total failure to connect with ordinary working people” and get them to like privatisation.

This connection is going to have to be made through military counterinsurgency methods.

He advocates “guerilla warfare,” arguing that “the most effective answer to dealing with that was developed by a free-thinking British army officer, Robert Thompson, in the ’60s. Unlike the rest of the top brass of his time, Thompson understood that ultimately the battle for the hearts and minds of ordinary people was far more important than endlessly chasing after the guerillas themselves.”

In fact, Thompson’s “hearts and minds” strategies were vicious systems of control.

Thompson first fought the Malayan insurgency in the 1950s. He then became a US army adviser in the Vietnam war – he ended up as a “pacification” adviser to Richard Nixon.

In Malaya he tried to win “hearts and minds” by forcing people out of their homes into strictly policed “barbed-wire villages.”

In Vietnam he favoured forced resettlement in similar “strategic hamlets.”

His goal was to break the link between guerillas and the population by putting the population into authoritarian settlements run by militias, where food and other necessities were controlled by the authorities. These could be given or withheld in order to win hearts.

Both his Malayan and Vietnamese counterinsurgency strategies were marked by repression, and in fact outright massacres.

This is the approach Worth thinks should be applied to those resisting privatisation. You might think he’s just a crank, but he is influential.

He runs the Better Public Services programme at Cameron’s favourite think tank Policy Exchange.

He’s also a lobbyist for a firm called MHP Communications, which represents privatisation companies like the Priory and Working Links.

His call for a counterinsurgency in our schools shows that the Tories, frustrated by their weakness, are going, well, a bit funny in the head.

I’m not sure how clients of MHP feel about their lobbyist suggesting the government approach teachers and nurses in the way Nixon approached the Viet Cong.

See article below:

Plans to protect tenants renting from private landlords are to be outlined in a speech by Labour leader Ed Miliband.

Speaking to the Fabian Society, Mr Miliband will propose a national register of landlords and more powers for councils to tackle rogue ones.

He will also say a confusing system of fees charged by landlords must be made easily understandable.

The speech is intended to flesh out the idea of a one-nation party, which was unveiled at Labour’s conference.

A “national register” of landlords – which already exists in Scotland – was proposed under the last Labour government.

Notice period

The plans were abandoned by the coalition, which said it did not want to impose “burdensome red tape and bureaucracy”.

But Mr Miliband will tell the annual conference of the Fabian Society, a left-wing think-tank: “We cannot have two nations divided between those who own their own homes and those who rent.

“Most people who rent have responsible landlords and rental agencies. But there are too many rogue landlords and agencies either providing accommodation which is unfit or ripping off their tenants.

“And too many families face the doubt of a two-month notice period before being evicted.

“Imagine being a parent with kids settled in a local school and your family settled in your home for two, three, four years, facing that sort of uncertainty.”

He will say the private rented sector is now bigger than the social rented sector for the first time in almost 50 years.

In total, 3.6 million households – including one million which have children – privately rent.

“Often in accommodation deemed below standard,” he will say.

BBC political correspondent Ross Hawkins says that inside Labour they are hoping that this speech will help them move on from their time in office.

Mr Miliband will say that “One Nation Labour” has “learnt the lessons” of the financial crisis.

“It begins from the truth that New Labour did not do enough to bring about structural change in our economy to make it work for the many, not just the few.

“It did not do enough to change the rules of the game that were holding our economy back.”

He will also say that New Labour was too timid in enforcing rights and responsibilities and too sanguine about the consequences of free markets.

“Learning from our history, One Nation Labour is clear that we need to do more to create a society where everyone genuinely plays their part.”


2 responses to “Ed Miliband on the right track to protect tenants renting from private sectors

  1. Ed should look at:

    1. Repealing shorthold tenancies and returning to the Rent Act 1977 inc Case 13 – that would allow appeal to the court except where the landlord proposes to return to their own home, or a close relation would occupy – that would be the only case for automatic possession.

    2. Consider allowing those who rent-to-buy (mortgages by another name) to claim housing benefit – also would stimulate house building and home ownership

    3. Make it possible for a tenant to take an agent etc to court for failing to inform that it is possible for landlord and tenant under shorthold or any other -hold, when the agreement/tenancy ends to allow things to continue on the same basis as before whtout a new agreement/fees etc – it’s called ‘statutory tenany’ – agents never tell people, it’s a form of deceit. Neither tenant nor landlord gains by the constant game of new agreements – only agents do so and they fail to tell either side the truth. Fees first ….

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