by Michael Smith (Veshengro)
With an estimated 850,000 houses standing empty in the UK why do we have a government determined to build on the countryside? I read that the minister responsible has suggested that the country can afford to take the loss of "just" 2%-3% of the countryside. However that 2%-3% equates to an area roughly the size of Devon!!
The reason, as I understand it, is that the construction industry lobby successfully 'persuaded' (aided by vast donations to party funds, presumably) those in power to give them massive taxation benefits for new build only, whereas they have to pay full taxes on refurbishment projects.
A simple change in the tax rules to the opposite of the existing would see all those empty homes refurbished and the countryside saved.
We don't need more homes to be built, we need to refurbish and green existing homes. There are more homes standing empty, and that is just the ones on the “empty homes register”, not counting the thousands of homes on the Ocean Estate in Stepney and the to be demolished Robin Hood Estate in Poplar, and others, than we would ever need to house all our homeless.
But there is not enough money to be made by refurbishing existing homes and especially there are not the government handouts available to the building industry and the handouts from the building industry to ministers.
We also do not need any more commuter towns and villages. We must green our towns and cities and the homes therein. The way of the suburbs and dormitory villages in the countryside is not sustainable environmentally.
If our governments and parliamentarians including ministers wouldn't be so corrupt and in the pockets of the various lobbying organizations and industries then maybe, just maybe, things would actually work.
Aside from the nearly a million of empty homes there are also masses of other buildings empty that could be refurbished and converted into dwellings though we might not even needs them if we would bring just the empty ones back into use.
We do not need more homes, on green belt land in the countryside. What we need is affordable homes in vibrant towns and cities with the right amount of green added and we also don't need all the homes concentrated in the Home Counties for business could and should set up shop in other places in order to revitalize them and not just the areas around London.
But, I guess, there is not enough money to be made in such common sense approaches to things, neither for the respective industries nor for the government ministers and their cronies.
That, and that alone, is the reason why we have empty homes and homelessness at the same time and why the government pushes for ever more house building. Not that any of the homeless or those with low incomes would ever be able to afford them for they are not for rent but for sale at high prices.
The love of money is the root of all evil (and it corrupts)...