Margaret Thatcher sold off public housing to create "the dignity of ownership" and today 40% of that housing is owned by gouging landlords

The theory behind Margaret Thatcher's sell-off of publicly funded council housing under the "right to buy" scheme was that poor people would buy their houses and then the structural factors keeping them poor would vanish in a puff of smoke, and the poor people would stop being poor (also, and as a completely unintentional side-effect, owning a home is correlated with voting for Tories and renting is correlated with voting Labour, but again, that was totally not what old Maggie was thinking, honestly).

The right-to-buy programme helped fuel the housing bubble in which quasi-state media like the BBC and Channel 4 ran dozens of hours of programming a week urging people to apply for credit, "do up" flats, and flip them to other people who'd applied for credit and wanted to "do up" the flat, because that couldn't possibly ever go wrong.

Today, 40% of that publicly built, publicly subsidised housing stock is in the hands of private landlords. Council housing schemes have been largely replaced by vouchers that poor people can use to pay their rents, and rents — uncontained by public subsidy — have soared, representing a wealth-transfer to landlord from both poor people and the taxpayers who fund the vouchers.

Landlords continue to snap up ex-council housing. Poverty in the UK is at levels unseen since the time of Dickens. Housing poverty is a major co-contributor to food poverty and other forms of dire privation. Moreover, the 40% figure is low, because many private landlords don't disclose that they're letting out their flats.

But this may all be bollocks of course, everyone knows reality has a well-known left wing bias.

Freedom of information (FoI) requests sent to 111 English local authorities by Inside Housing magazine reveal that 40.2% of housing stock sold by councils to then tenants are now rented out, rising to 70.9% in Milton Keynes, which it dubs the "right-to-buy-to-let capital" of England.

Seven councils – Milton Keynes, Bolsover, Brighton & Hove, Canterbury, Cheshire West and Chester, Stevenage, and Nuneaton & Bedworth – have letting levels of more than 50% among former council-owned homes.

Thatcher promised that right to buy would result in a property-owning democracy, but with so many homes now sold on to landlords, critics say the government has been left paying huge amounts of housing benefit to buy-to-let landlords charging high rents.

Four in 10 right-to-buy homes are now owned by private landlords [Patrick Collinson/The Guardian]

(Image: Geograph, CC-BY-SA; Mattbuck, CC-BY-SA)

(via Naked Capitalism)