Jacob Rees-Mogg tried to blame socialism for the housing crisis, and people aren’t having it

Jacob Rees-Mogg and the IEA logo

On 23 July, Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg launched the Institute for Economic Affairs’ (IEA) Richard Koch Breakthrough Prize. He then tweeted the details of the prize:

Is socialism the problem?

The IEA is a ‘free-market’ thinktank. It’s offering a prize for essays which:

answer how we can find a new, market-based policy to alleviate the UK’s housing shortage, and to rejuvenate our property-owning democracy.

Read on...

Yet Rees-Mogg’s tweet implied that a free-market approach to housing would be a break from the current socialist approach. Thankfully, people on Twitter were quick to correct him:

https://twitter.com/paul_thind/status/1021377573832544258

A radical new approach?

As the BBC reported, the post-war Labour government “built more than a million homes, 80% of which were council houses”. This was an approach the subsequent Conservative government continued.

But Margaret Thatcher halted this commitment to building homes to fulfil a social need:

A study by Inside Housing found that 40.2% of council homes sold through Thatcher’s right-to-buy scheme are now rented out by private landlords. And her government’s 1988 Housing Act created the private rental market we see today, which is the number one cause of homelessness.

No wonder people are sceptical about what a free-market approach can achieve:

‘An asset not a right’

The idea of a “property-owning democracy” frames housing as an asset rather than a right:

This government’s decimation of social housing stock means that those who are priced out of the housing market are stuck in insecure private tenancies. Meanwhile, wealthy landlords flourish:

Housing first

This government has also presided over a shocking rise in rough sleeping, up 169% since 2010. Homeless deaths have doubled in the UK in the last five years while over 200,000 properties sit empty in England alone.

Therefore, it’s telling that Finland is the only EU country to reduce homelessness in the last decade. This has been done through rejecting a free-market approach in favour of a ‘Housing First’ model. Housing First re-frames housing as a right. The policy gives rough sleepers unconditional homes and provides support to maintain their tenancies.

The Finnish experience backs up the idea that Rees-Mogg and the IEA are barking up the wrong tree:

Ulterior motives?

The website Who Funds You? awarded the IEA the lowest possible mark for transparency in terms of funding. This has led people to be rightly sceptical of its motives:

And Rees-Mogg was among the Tory MPs who voted against forcing private landlords to make homes “fit for human habitation” while being registered as private landlords themselves, according to the International Business Times. So people also wondered what could be in it for Tory landlords:

Championing the free market as the solution to the housing crisis is like trying to put out a fire with gasoline.

Thankfully, people aren’t on board with the ludicrous approach taken by Rees-Mogg and the IEA.

Get Involved!

– Support housing campaigns like Focus E15London Renters UnionGreater Manchester Housing ActionACORNStreets KitchenBalfron Social ClubSave Our Homes LS26Ledbury Action Group, and Generation Rent.

Featured image via GuardianNews/YouTube and iealondon/YouTube

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed