Bautzen / Budyšin, Sachsen, Deutschland.
More updates on the empty buildings in Plauen blog.
Plauen at Christmas
This Cristmas was Dogmas
My piece on the Housing Bill made today’s Morning Star.
The bill, which is making its way through Parliament, is set to wipe out the remaining Social Housing system as we know it and put in its stead new “affordable” homes to buy.
(Spoiler warning: they’re not really affordable and the Tories are shitbags!).
In trying to ‘briefly’ explain how dangerous this bill is I ended up writing frikken’ loads, which you can find below.
In terms of the Housing Bill’s headline claims of encouraging home ownership it will only do so through throwing millions at developers and redrawing the idea of “affordable housing” into something categorically unaffordable to the vast majority of people.
Under this new system homes up to £450,000 in London will be classed as “affordable”. Yes, this is a maximum figure but given the rights of developers to pocket subsidies for building “affordable” homes at just shy of half a million and wholehearted government support for mortgage indebtedness, why shouldn’t they rinse the new system? Just as Osborne’s £26bn Help to Buy scheme helped push up house prices, the signals to the market are clear: house values can be as high as they want, the government will underpin household and national debt by whatever means possible – by throwing billions at the problem and by even calling £450,000 affordable.
Just who are the Tories making these homes “affordable” for? Research by Shelter suggest that by 2020 to buy a starter home in London will require an annual income of £77,000 and a deposit of £98,000. So when the Tories talk about bringing home ownership within reach of a new generation they mean something very, very specific. In London this means bringing “affordable” homes to the richest 1/3 of Londoners. Or when we look at Right to Buy in the social housing sector it means an incredibly divisive Government give-away to a few lucky, wealthy tenants.
For a government proclaiming its obsession with cutting government spending it’s found a unique way of buying votes with its core-vote of home-owners and the aspirant home-owner with give-aways worth billions of pounds – £2.3 billion in direct grants to developers as part of an overall package worth around £20bn. As the Guardian pointed out – can you just imagine the calls of socialist profligacy if J-Corb suggested spending even a fraction of that money on building affordable housing?
And for social housing and renters? Well, “affordable” flats for rent will no longer be required of developers. Councils will be forced to sell off “high value” property (which in some London borough constitutes vast swathes of social housing) and some tenants will find their rents swapped from social rent to “market rent”. The massive extension of Right to Buy across social housing and now to Housing Associations, without serious plans for its replacement, will devastate access to social housing – experts estimate 7,000 social homes every year could be lost. No surprise that Scotland has abolished Right-to-Buy.
Social Housing as we know it is set to have its housing stock sold-off and starved of funds. Under the Housing Bill it will essentially be left out to die. Meanwhile in the capital over 340,000 households are on the housing waiting list – priced out of a rental market that well.. it’s just too well-known an absolute outrage to even go into here.
This appeal to “home ownership” at the heart of the Housing Bill is part of the Tories toxic politics – tapping into veins of popular aspiration and using divide society. The Tories will pit social housing (so often demonised as part of Cameron’s quite evident loathing of working class peoples) against the Good, British, Keep-Calm-and-Carry On, dream of home ownership.
For many people who’ve always been ripped off renters, who’ve never been able to access any form of affordable social housing anyway - something long out of reach to many people, separated by a generational and class gap that is so often encouraged by policy and the demonization of politicians - it will no doubt be appealing to give social housing a kicking if it means they can afford to do that most venerated of British aspiration and “Get On The Property Ladder”.
This will be the message. And the Tories will no doubt make it a popular message. It’s the kind of negative solidarity that their ideology thrives on. But all it will mean for aspirant home owners is the destruction of a housing system which can offer them a genuinely affordable home and its replacement with homes to buy which will, for most, remain absolutely unobtainable.
Instead of this toxic sort of division and state-enforced deprivation can you imagine how far we could go if rents were regulated, contracts were made in the favour of tenants, developers were help democratically accountable and lastly, if even a fraction of the funds currently thrown at developers was put towards building genuinely affordable homes that people wanted to live in?
(Lots of this comes from the excellent articles by Dawn Foster, Adity Chakraborrty and the Editorial team at the Guardian Housing section >http://www.theguardian.com/…/rob-poor-give-rich-housing-pol… >http://www.theguardian.com/…/expert-views-housing-bill-end-… >http://www.theguardian.com/…/the-guardian-view-on-starter-h… )
Playing with the ink pen again.
Logo for the good people at Flüchtlingshilfe Plauen e.V.
Based on photographs and reports of the EU border fences springing up across Eastern Europe in response to the 'refugee crisis’.
27cm x 23cm
Linoprint on Masa Japanese paper.
Three print edition, printed 21/12/15.
I have three prints for sale, each £30 plus P&P. Email me on email@example.com for details!
22cm x 22cm print
Linoprint on Masa Japanese paper.
4 print edition, printed 21/12/15
I have three prints for sale, each £25 plus P&P. Email me on firstname.lastname@example.org for details!
A response to yesterday’s decision on the #syriaairstrikes and Hilary Benn’s just absurd talk of “Doing our bit” - a phrase that seems to get trotted out when Westminster talk about bombs, but never about refugees in the places we intend to bomb the shit out of.
My piece on Cameron’s call for further #syriaairstrikes
Updating the empty Plauen blog!
New block, looking forward to printing this when I’m reunited with my press.
Little sketch as a header image publicising a Weihnachts meal for migrants in Plauen, Saxony.
A response to the dominant response to the Paris attacks:
The speed with which major powers, media moguls and even ‘liberal’ pundits have been calling for further military action against ISIS, closed borders for refugees and increased surveillance at home has been absolutely terrifying.
That’s not even getting into the bile spouted by Republicans and bigots of all sorts in the USA.
We can’t mourn the dead of Paris by creating another cycle of violence in the Middle East. Violence which has its mirror nearer at home in the form of hostility towards refugees and the state-sanctioned suspicion of the entire Muslim community.
There’s of course lots to be discussed on this but this piece by Novara Media’s James Butler helped me find some clarity in this week’s madness:http://wire.novaramedia.com/…/after-the-paris-attacks-4-qu…/ plus this article in The Guardian by a French ex-hostage of ISIS:http://www.theguardian.com/…/isis-bombs-hostage-syria-islam…
Topfmarkt / Teichgasse, Plauen
Plauen in Autumn