Danny Dorling – academic, commentator, government advisor - is this country’s foremost commentator on the landscape of inequality. He takes a particular interest in housing and especially housing in Oxfordshire. He concludes:
“Oxford’s housing is now the least affordable in the nation.”
On Monday 23 March, Danny will present the stark reality of inequality where it is most denied, in the heart of David Cameron’s constituency. His focus on housing is in an area where the rich may have several houses, and the young have little chance of ever having one. The price of an average house in Witney rose by £37,000 in 2014 to reach £348,000. This is £37,000 that might have been invested in small business, in social housing, in local infrastructure, in creating real wealth. This is an extra £37,000 that must be borrowed by house buyers, and that will be reflected in rent.
In the last twelve months, the housing crisis has become a housing disaster. House prices in London and the South East have soared. Rents have followed, despite the fall in real income of those renting. Many find themselves in a perilous position. Says Danny Dorling:
“… at least a third of those with mortgages would struggle if mortgages were to rise by even a couple of percentage points at some point in future years. The further that house prices rise, the greater that proportion will grow, leaving a growing proportion of people with no option but to rent.’
The Chancellor of the Exchequer has done all he can to push up house prices further and faster, reducing stamp duty by £800 million, and removing all tax restrictions on the wealthy using pension pots buy houses to let.
Existing housing stock is being used less and less efficiently with more empty rooms and flats. There is no bedroom tax on the rich and their houses have unused bedrooms galore. Council tax bands were set in 1991 and so Oxfordshire’s super rich pay no more for their mansions than those with modest houses.
Houses are being built, but to benefit greedy developers and landowners rather than those who desperately need homes. There is little concern for the infrastructure that must accompany new housing. The planning system is broken and undemocratic. No wonder Oxfordshire protests.
What to do about this mess? Listen to Danny Dorling explore the problem and suggest the sort of solution this government does not really want to hear.
Please see the event poster for more information.
Witney , Oxfordshire OX28 4AX
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