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It's time to tear down the council estates

Filed by Brett Alegre-Wood on Monday 12th December, 2011 in Politics and Economics, Success Attitude
Brett Alegre-Wood
Chairman, YPC Group

Hey guys,

The London riots bought to center stage the massive social problems that face us after generations of political and economic mismanagement.

Of course the youths are disaffected. Of course the poor feel hopeless. Of course the mob culture took to the streets and rioted.

For ordinary folk it seems so abhorrent that such a thing should happen but it's been coming for some time. For years we tried to hide people away in social housing, give them unemployment benefits and about 100 other different benefits. We've taken away their freedom while creating generations of benefit hungry citizens. Otherwise known as 'dependents'.

The solution - Tear down the council estates...

I contend that private landlords are the answer. Tear down the council estates and have private developers build new developments of fit for purpose eco-friendly housing which will allow for a mixed use of council tenants and private landlords. This scheme works around the country. The more you integrate the poor with the rich, the educated with the uneducated, the more you bring up the standard of living (and role models) for the council tenants.

Are politicians up for the task?

The problem is not the mobs, the youths, or the looters. Sure, they should be dealt with under the law but the real challenge is the prevalent 'band aid' approach to real change.

Social programs such as Big Society will always fail in the end. We need to change the environment in which people live.

Right now we have people living in council estates whose peers also live in social housing. Their only role models are older kids and pop idols. Obviously we can't do much about the pop idols but we can change the environment in which people live.

My question is 'Is the Political willpower large enough to change this?'. Unfortunately the answer is a resounding 'No'. Politicians for years have known the problems associated with council estates. And yet they're happy to spend billions on bombing other countries but the political will to change the home environment just isn't there. It's a band-aid patch for a massive social problem.

The rules need to be changed!

Right now the attitude of the courts is one of 'Rich Landlord, Poor Tenant' and this must change if private landlords are going to be attracted into the building programs we need. Private landlords whose pension funds haven't performed and are unlikely to ever, need a way to self fund their future retirement income, this could easily be satisfied through releasing the council housing to private landlords.

Government deficit and debt solved

The UK government owns, through local authorities, a massive amount of land which council estates sit upon. This land could be leased to developers who could sell it on to private landlords who need a pension replacement, the revenue generated would be enormous and in the meantime it would solve another problem that is a silent killer. The pension time-bomb. I think this is key to the program, do not sell the land holdings, instead lease them to create a cash flow.

Local authorities could be downsized and the support mechanisms around council estates could be filled by private business. Good for the country and good for the debt and deficit.

Is the scheme proven to work?

This scheme has been working for years already, the systems are proven and the integration of council tenants and private citizens already works.

Why this will never work?

I hate to say that this is an idea whose time won't come, the politicians don't have the long term vision to see it through. Their four years in government just isn't long enough for any political figure to see it through so its unlikely to really happen.

The slow degradation and decay of our society cannot be fixed overnight (or one term of office which is what the politicians require) it will take generations and this is the real problem. 'How many politicians from any party are going to embark on such a huge social change program?' The answer unfortunately is none but that doesn't mean we shouldn't give it a go.


Live with passion,

Brett Alegre-Wood

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