Tory deregulated market now delivers Rachman-style revenge evictions

The New Era housing estate scandal in Dalston, east London, highlighted by Aditya Chakraborrtty, tells a poignant and tragic story about how Victorian philanthropic ideals has been transformed into commercial assets in play in the international market with not a shred of concern about the human consequences.   Arthur Barsht, the man who built this 93-flat estate, must be squirming in his grave.   It was preserved for more than 80 years by the Lever family who ran the estate as a place where low-income workers in teaching, health and construction could live near where they worked.   Now the grandson of the founder, who lives in a 5-bedroom detached house in Northwood, Middlesex, has announced the family is to sell up to an American private equity company which intends to quadruple the £600 a month rents for a 2-bed flat to £2,400.   The US company was assisted in the takeover of the estate by Richard Benyon, the Tory MP whose multimillion-pound family estate in extensive parkland near London was a partner to the deal.   None of the tenants will remotely be able to afford the new sky-high rents and they will all be evicted before Christmas.   Welcome to Cameronian capitalism.

The whole Tory aim of squeezing public services, ostensibly to pay down the deficit (which is actually rising this year), is to restructure a public welfare state as a fully privatised market system.   The New Era estate is just one of thousands of initiatives designed to achieve this end, though a strongly redolent one.   The callousness of this nakedly monetary transaction is shown by the fact that nobody from the London office of the US private equity firm, Westbrook, has even deigned to visit the estate and talk to the residents, all of whom will be abruptly made homeless within the next 3 weeks.   It is purely a financialised arrangement transforming a tight-knit community into a global investment.

So why wasn’t this outrage stopped?   Because the families will have been evicted from private properties on private land, Hackney Council will have no responsibility to re-house them.   They will be forced to leave London, but wherever they end up the public taxpayer, not Westbrook, will have to pay the cost of their accommodation.   It is ironic that Westbrook invests money from US public and private pension funds, endowments and foundations, including investments from many lower-paid workers similar to those now about to be evicted.   It is also resonant that Westbrook Partners have been taken to court for their shabby, vermin-ridden, unrepaired housing complexes in New York and been forced to carry out basic repairs and compensate their tenants.

In the light of this revelation of the new Tory Britain which Grant Shapps, the former Tory housing minister, hailed as a model for private landlords as “the unsung heroes of the housing market”, Labour should bring in legislation to require local authorities to be offered first rights to take over all such estates being sold, with reserve rights of compulsory purchase where necessary to protect tenants.

 

3 thoughts on “Tory deregulated market now delivers Rachman-style revenge evictions

  1. Housing is a basic requirement of life so should not be taken away lightly. Consequently, tenants should only be evicted if they fall behind with their rent, pose a nuisance to their neighbours or engage in criminal activities (eg drugs).

    This problem has arisen through the removal of rent caps, so landlords can now charge whatever they like (provided the market will take it). So no one is safe (unless they own their own home and have sufficient income with which to pay their bills). Oh, but not if they bought property in one of these areas, as they’ll be subject to compulsory purchase at less than the market value.

    Poor Londoners! Where are they to go? Will London end up like South African cities, with the lower paid workers having to commute in from settlements outside the city? That won’t work here, as the surrounding area is also very expensive when it comes to housing. This isn’t the only London housing estate affected, so if this carries on, who is going to carry out the jobs these people do? Robots!? So who’s going to sweep the streets and do all the other essential but poorly paid jobs a large city such as London needs to have done?

    I understand that some people have been moved far away from their families, friends and support systems, to areas such as Manchester, which I expect has more than enough problems, such as high unemployment.

    When Thatcher introduced the right to buy council houses some buyers were caught out by interest rate hikes, from around 7% all the way up to an unaffordable 15% in the early 1990s. Consequently ex-council house tenants who had bought their homes and were unable to manage the increased mortgage payment were either forced to sell or were repossessed and evicted. The lenders then sold these houses off. I believe the Duke of Westminster, who is the richest UK Citizen bought up many of these houses, as did a close relative of at least one of the MPs involved in the original right to buy scheme.

    When it comes to money making greed, people are blinkered and don’t consider the bigger picture, or even care about the social consequences of their actions. Not their problem. So, whose problem is it? Not even the council, in this instance. So there needs to be some sort of control, which can only emanate from the government. But the problem here is that the people in the present government and their friends are the ones benefiting financially from these schemes. So the poor are left to suffer.

    We tend to follow the USA, usually in ways that are bad for us (eg fattening fast foods) and not learning by their mistakes. We have a prime example over the pond showing us what not to do, yet we carry on regardless of the consequences to our population.

    You stated “….but wherever they end up the public taxpayer, not Westbrook, will have to pay the cost of their accommodation. “

    Well, it seems to me that what the Tories are doing, in more ways than just this example, is crushing the poor but increasing welfare payments in so doing, and all to benefit themselves and their rich friends. I’m just worried at the amount of damage they could still do between now and the General Election. If TTIP goes ahead, it could be irreparable.

    I most certainly agree with your final paragraph and hope that Labour will bring in such legislation when back in power.

    Legislation is definitely required to protect such tenants and also increase our stock of truly affordable social housing, which will always be required.

  2. ah there we go thatcher dear thatcher wasnt this girl a demon for the working person but sadly greed did take over the house and that killed our politicians most of them fell for that greed but perhaps with some honest mps we can atleast try to get back to were all can live along side each other but then mps taking two jobs or more well thisnt isnt in the spirit of things when the people pay your bills i think we need a adjustment in law telling iall its wrong to vote a company into the tax payers pot which sadly is being done by said politicians untill you all shown up that this isnt the way then the general public have shown that they think about that house of greedy people whose only outcome in life is to rob us of jobs and tax payers monies jeff3

  3. The private landlords were fine with housing-benefit tenants as long as they could keep pushing up the rents and getting the state to pay for them.

    As soon as housing benefit becomes capped, callously they are throwing out persons from whom they can make no further upward profit.

    Then those on social security (as it should be called, even though it no longer affords any security from anything), those who they have blatantly used to increase their personal wealth, are those being blamed for housing benefit costing too much.

    Everything in this country is becoming the wrong way arounds, where the perpetrators of increasingly atrocious deeds are further rewarded, and the victims increasingly get the blame and the punishments.

    We await political leadership about addressing this – and keep waiting – when even in Labour there are too many in far closer association with the interests of the powerful and wealthy than the unappealing ordinary citizen (who they supposedly represent), however hard working.

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