What about sustainability?

CURRENTLY there are 2.5 million people unemployed. This is no surprise. In the early 1960s we were warned that with all the technology and gadgets coming on stream, by the end of the century it was predicted we would have lots of time on our hands. The millennium came and went some 11 years ago and we do find that people are running around and seemingly heading nowhere as every industry has reduced the need for labour with the arrival of new technologies. Those who have been made redundant and are faced with unemployment through this ‘progress’ are being told to get a job and then are encouraged into debt and led to believe they need two of everything. Through the loss of this manpower, we lose the know-how that they have. Would it not be better to consider reduce working time, so that everyone has an opportunity and thereby a purpose.

In order to achieve this, a new way of housing is needed. Not a system whereby the higher rate becomes a going rate, but all houses should be affordable on the income of one person within a couple and with the wellbeing of children in mind.

Let there be non-market housing whereby the Government transfers land to a new system we might call a community Land Trust. The trust would pay a land rent to the owners, the trust would employ developers to build the houses and sell them for about £80k to £90k, and the purchaser seeking to move on may only sell their property back to the Trust and who would receive only the new building price plus improvements.

We should not have social rents at 80 per cent market value as the open market rents are artificially propped up by housing benefits. If local councils could keep their rents and housing benefits were not payable to the private landlord, the money saved could build al the houses we need.

The ‘Right to Buy’ should be stopped and instead lifetime tenancies should be offered, allowing people to move when they want to, not when the council says so.

In the new areas awful estates are being developed; the houses are too compacted, there are no open spaces, they are cheaply built and expensive to buy. As people we need the company of others and our own space, on new estates we are overcrowded yet isolated.

I would like to offer a solution to some of these problems. I have campaigned at several local and national forums to put across these ideas and feel they have been well-received. In addition, I have distributed leaflets and questionnaires campaigning for change, at these and other events. The solutions are as follows:

l We, the people in every village, would decide where there could be 10-20 new affordable houses;

l The land owner would be offered £1k per acre rent annually or;

l A 50-year lease paid up front (with the possibility of a compulsory purchase order to be put in place);

l Houses would be built and sold at cost – approx £80 to £90k, the buyer could not sell them on, only back to the new plan – (let’s call it a Land Community Trust);

l The mortgages could be guaranteed by the government;

l The same, would apply in town and city areas on much a larger scale;

l Affordable work units could be under the same plan;

l Larger houses should be built to accommodate elderly folk who can be looked after by younger family members;

l A pension plan could be established once the house has been paid for, a sum similar to the mortgage payment could be paid into the fund. This could not be used until one is 65 the fund could be passed on to other family members’ pension funds;

l Care homes could also be brought under this scheme. A property would not be bought and sold on its profit potential. A pension pot may well have enough reserves to cover the cost of any community care – care being the operative word;

l Consider a flexible retirement: a 4-day week for 55+, 3-day week for a 60+. Not working to 70, and job share.

l Young people in many cases could start their working life earlier, at 15 in some cases;

l Take housing benefits out of the private sector from the next time you move.

You may be interested in visiting my website for details at www.campaign-for-change.co.uk. I hope you will consider my proposals and look forward to hearing from you in the near future with your response.

Laurence Keeley, Herstmonceux