One in Four People in The UK Live in Substandard Housing

Again this is another delayed blog post which was written back in October last year, however as before in such matters little has changed.

Other than being homeless there can be few things in life more depressing than living in substandard housing, yet here in the sixth richest country in the world the UK one in four people spend most of their time in cramped unhealthy and unsuitable homes. It seems even worse when the people concerned are elderly, like the couple in the video included in the article below, or children.

“More than four in 10 homes in Britain do not reach acceptable standards in areas such as cleanliness, safety and space, housing charity Shelter says.

Shelter’s new Living Home Standard considers affordability, neighbourhood, decent conditions, stability and space.

It said affordability was the biggest problem, and people should “live and thrive” in homes, not just “get by”.

The government said housing was an absolute priority and its affordable housing budget was doubling.”

Continue reading
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-37655908  – Please be sure to watch the video

The government’s idea of affordable homes leaves much to be desired. With low wages it is difficult to save a deposit never mind the repayments. Below is an example of what you might be expected to pay for the least expensive properties  in the northeast usually considered one of the cheapest locations. Though you can find cheaper there may be a lot of work required to bring it up to standard.

Last year the average price of a house or flat in the North of England was £123,914
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-36656134  –  A deposit of 5 or 10 percent is usually required.

I don’t have exact figures as it is very complicated but a house with the price of £99.950 you will need a deposit of £4,998 and keep in mind houses that cheap which are worth buying are few and far between.

A deposit of nearly five thousands pounds is hardly affordable, it is not easy to save that kind of money on a basic minimum wage while paying high rent in the meantime. Apparently affordable housing includes rented property… Where I would like to ask? Where is there a house or a flat that is really affordable. Even social housing is not affordable and takes a huge amount of your income, as for the private sector with an average rent of £764 a month, private rent is unaffordable for those on a low income and is furthermore  insecure. Rents in general are expensive, even more so in certain areas of the country, London in particular

Rents continue to rise across the UK and in London

Latest figures show average rent outside London rose to £764 a month, while within the capital it hit £1,543
https://www.theguardian.com/money/2016/may/05/rents-continue-rise-uk-london

House prices are ten times the average wage

According to the following article house prices are 10 times the earning of people in England and Wales

Rising house prices drove the cost of buying a home in England and Wales to more than 10 times the average salary in over a third of local authority areas, official figures show.

Analysis of median salaries and prices by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) underlines how the growth in house prices has outpaced the increase in earnings in recent years.

Between 2002 and 2015, prices have risen by 88%, but median earnings have increased only by a quarter. As a result, the median price paid by buyers across England and Wales rose to six times average salaries in 2015, up from just four times earnings in 2002.

Continue reading:
https://www.theguardian.com/money/2016/oct/07/house-prices-10-times-earnings-england-wales-ons-property

The lady in the video  included in the BBC article above , sorry I can’t include the video here directly, says she doesn’t want to die there however she and her husband and others like them do not want to live there either.  My sister and brother-in-law lived in very similar accommodation, though there was an additional spare room the accommodation was cramped and dark, the radiator did not work, the housing association who owned the property did not bother to fix it. I recall a similar curtain dividing the tiny kitchen from the tiny living room. All the rooms were small with no access to a private outside area. I thought this was appalling,  which it was but for the couple in the video it is even worse, so claustrophobic.  No one should live in unfit accommodation. Space to live a full life is vital for well-being, to have room to participate in hobbies, to study, to work and to fulfill the need for privacy is essential, one of the reasons that the bedroom tax is a great social injustice.In an ideal society each person should have a room of his or her own, even children value their privacy. As a child I shared a room with my aunt and my sister , although this was some time ago now nothing much has changed it seems.

My present home has a huge problems with damp, a highly unsuitable living condition which is a significant detriment to health and wellbeing. Water running down your wall from October to March, and in recent years occasionally during the summer, is awful to live with as is the black mould that grows as a result, not only is it unhealthy it ruins your soft furnishings, your wood, your cloths, books and is so unsightly and smells just awful. If you ‘re not well it can become overwhelming to clean, it always returns and the black stain it leaves behind can only be painted over. Many homes in the UK are riddled with mould. It is expensive to fix. We do not have the finances to fix the problem so each year we have to face this on an ever-increasing intensity as the mould get worse with each passing year. There are no grants to help people to get this fixed, the cost of doing so is astronomical and the council loans are expensive

The photograph in the article below shows what it is like with black mould growing on the wall yet this is not mentioned in the substandard criteria, as you can see it is a significant detriment, no one in this wealthy country of ours should have to live with this sort of thing whether you rent your home or own it. Owning your home does not mean you ‘re well off, quite the contrary in fact. You struggle all your life to pay the mortgage subsisting on low wages and working long hours only to find that, even if by some miracle you manage to make your final payment, as you get older and have to subsist on a pension or you become sick or disabled or unemployed you cannot finance repairs such as a damp course or other damp proofing or roof repair all enormously expensive. Also if you get sick or disabled and cannot work you may not be able pay your mortgage and may end up homeless. Such is the insecurity of housing here in the UK.

Four in 10 British homes not up to standard, says Shelter
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/oct/16/four-in-10-british-homes-not-up-to-standard-says-shelter

Also see

The Living Home Standard
http://www.shelter.org.uk/livinghomestandard

I suspect in a short while the dust will settle. This story got a brief mention on the BBC news but I had to track it down on the internet. Things will continue much as before and people will continue to live out their lives in miserable homes while others live well beyond their needs . Such shames our country and our society. We need to demand a fair standard of living, decent wages for everyone, regardless of the job we do – we all have to live, we all contribute, everyone’s work is important, everyone’s life is important and everyone should have a good standard of living . You would know how vital a shelf filler’s work was if people who filled the supermarket shelves went on strike, yet they get poor wages. This also applies to people who through not fault of their own either as a result of sickness or disability are unable to work. All regardless of circumstances should have decent housing.

Note this comment on the Guardian article above

“It’s time the government called a halt to all regeneration schemes such as the Winstanley York Road behind Clapham Junction where 600 council flats are to be demolished to make way for a couple of thousand luxury flats starting at £1m+.

Wandsworth Council is suggesting tenants on the Winstanley give up their secure accommodation decamp to privately rented accommodation in… Birmingham.”

http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/london-families-offered-7000-move-9194790

This is happening all over the country, and especially in London. We’ve already had the Heygate, West Hendon and Aylesbury fiascos, with the Winstanley, Alton and St. Johns already underway in just Wandsworth alone.

Maybe a different topic but related. The very idea of moving people away from their secure council homes to private rented properties  is appalling. Besides the cost of moving would take much of the puny financial incentive, it is never easy moving to another part of the country where you do not know anyone or have any family.

The article says the policy is a form of social cleansing and gentrification

The policy has also been slammed as ‘social cleansing’ and critics claim it is a back door attempt to gentrify areas of London by moving out low income families. But supporters say the incentives are being used encourage pensioners to free up larger homes for families.

I am certain that moving to another part of the country is not a good idea for pensioners who need the support of friends and family. Why should anyone move to some pig in the poke like the couple in the BBC article simply because they are old. Suitable accommodation is a must for everyone with space to live a fulfilling and meaningful life. As people age and become less active they do not wish to be shut up in some cramped accommodation looking at the same four walls day after day, living in the same room in which you sleep. This is what it is like in purpose built homes for the elderly. In a village where I lived I knew an elderly lady who lived in council sheltered accommodation for single people which consisted of a tiny bed sit with room for just a chair a TV and a table, behind a curtain at the end of the room was the single bed. A tiny kitchen and bathroom was all that there was. There was no private outside space or even a communal garden.

This country is now riddled with social injustice it hard to know where to start , I could rant on here indefinitely, it seems that poor people are shunted about from pillar to post at the whims of the wealthy, discarded when they are no longer useful or become an inconvenience.

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