-- R.G. Menzies
LIBERTARIAN/CONSERVATIVE DIGEST AND COMMENTARY FROM AN ACADEMIC PSYCHOLOGIST in Brisbane, Australia. My academic publications are widely read
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Brilliant new Leftist policy in Britain: Throw the elderly out of their homes to make room for migrants!
When I was there a third of a century ago, Brits seemed to love their OAPs (elderly) but with chronic neglect by the NHS -- and now this -- the change seems drastic. Britain seems to become a less civil society with every week that goes by -- JR
How sickening that politicians who allowed mass immigration and failed to build enough houses are bullying the British elderly into giving up their homes
Have you ever heard of the Intergenerational Foundation? I hadn’t until yesterday. And yet this obscure organisation was wheeled out on the Today programme on Radio 4 and given the prime slot reserved for the most important issue of the day.
The Intergenerational Foundation, which is described as a charity, believes older people should be encouraged to move into smaller homes as part of the solution to the ‘housing crisis’. It says that more than half of over-65s are in homes with two or more spare bedrooms, which could be pressed into greater use. In fact, it claims there are 25 million unused bedrooms in England.
How gloriously simple! Why has no one thought of it before? Don’t panic, though, if you are an elderly homeowner — at least, not yet. At any rate for the time being, the suggestion, given such sympathetic and extensive treatment by the BBC, is that the aged should be coaxed, not forced, into giving up their supposedly large houses.
Everyone knows that, very regrettably, young people are finding it difficult to enter the housing market. This is partly because first-time mortgages are difficult to obtain as a consequence of the credit crunch.
A more fundamental explanation is that fewer homes are being built than at any time since the Twenties. Only 105,000 were put up last year. Ordinary houses in London, the South-East and some other parts of the country are among the most expensive in the world.
There are simply not enough new homes. Meanwhile, there are more than 700,000 unoccupied houses in Britain that no one seems to be willing or able to do anything about.
One aggravating factor, which is scarcely ever mentioned in polite circles, is the high level of net immigration into this country. Last year, it amounted to 239,000. The population of the UK is expected to increase by nine million to 70 million by 2025, largely because of immigration.
These people will have to live somewhere. Think of it. In little more than a decade, our population will grow by the equivalent of 20 cities the size of Sheffield or Leeds, in large measure because the last government did not control the influx of immigrants.
Enter the Left-leaning Intergenerational Foundation with its sinister new proposals.
Instead of urging the Government to increase the supply of new homes or to do something about reducing the demand, it fixes on elderly homeowners and tries to make them feel guilty about occupying so much space. A nasty new concept is entering the lexicon: ‘bedroom blocking’.
Isn’t this outrageous? If you own your own home and are in your 60s, the chances are that you have not long ago paid off your mortgage — or perhaps you haven’t yet managed to do so. You have saved, and probably sometimes gone without, in order to buy your own house, which, now that it is finally yours, interfering busybodies urge you to leave. It’s hardly your fault if it has risen sharply in value.
The suggestion that you should up sticks is not merely terribly unfair. It is also a form of ageism. The Intergenerational Foundation appears to think the elderly can and should be pushed aside in favour of rising generations. They are not allowed to enjoy the fruits of a lifetime’s labour.
Of course, some people in their 50s and 60s choose to down size. Maybe they want to liberate some capital. Or perhaps, living on a smaller income, they want to reduce the outgoings of having a larger house.
But many others do not want to move out. They have grown attached to the place where they live. They may associate it with bringing up their children. The house has become for them so much more than four walls. It is a continuing celebration of a shared family life.
Here we come to the absolutely crucial point which the Intergenerational Foundation, in its bleak and utilitarian way, ignores, or simply does not understand. We live in an age of atomised families, where grown-up children increasingly work far from where their parents live.
And so the enduring family home remains the thread that can still bind together disparate parts of a family. The second or third bedroom may sometimes, or even often, be unoccupied, but their existence allows children and grandchildren to come and stay, and the family to retain its sense of identity and unity in an otherwise splintered world.
In other words, the family home with its one or two spare bedrooms — we are not usually talking about mansions here — is the bedrock of family life. Take it away, and the family, already under threat on so many other fronts, will struggle even harder to survive.
To which the Intergenerational Foundation might reply: what about young people who are not in a position to start a family because they are unable to buy a home of their own? Surely, the answer to that question should not involve undermining existing, hard-pressed families.
Successive governments have failed to meet demand for the reasons I have mentioned. There are too many people chasing too few affordable houses. Until or unless the Government brings demand and supply into some sort of equilibrium, young people will continue to find it hard to get on the housing ladder, the more so as long as the economy remains in the doldrums.
What alarms me is that the Intergenerational Foundation’s ideas should have been treated so respectfully by the BBC, as though they had been brought down wholesale from Mount Sinai, and no one was given the opportunity to say they are discriminatory and coercive. Nor was it mentioned that some of the ‘brains’ behind the Foundation are those of the Labour shadow minister Tessa Jowell. She, of course, was a leading light of the last Labour administration, which was mostly responsible for the pressure on housing.
I’m afraid that the response of Grant Shapps, the housing minister, was somewhat less robust than one might have hoped. He said: ‘We do not agree that people should be taxed or bullied out of their homes.’
He could have added that people who have worked a lifetime have a right to stay in their homes without being made to feel guilty. He should have said that in maintaining family homes the elderly are often upholding family life.
In fairness to Mr Shapps, he wants to double the number of homes being built in this country, though he has been criticised for wanting to relax planning laws. The truth is that we are going to need much more than the 200,000 new houses a year envisaged by Mr Shapps if the crisis is ever going to be solved.
Governments, not home-owners, are to blame — for permitting the population to balloon and for not encouraging, or allowing, enough houses to be built. How sickening that Ms Jowell and her Foundation should be trying to bully the elderly into giving up their homes.
By JR on Friday, October 21, 2011
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