The Housing Disaster: Danny Dorling in Conversation with Paul Watt
In the last twelve months the crisis in housing in the UK turned into a disaster. Housing prices in London and the South East continued to rise at very high rates along with rents which reached maxima never before recorded. In contrast, many people’s ability to pay was reduced both as median incomes fell and as other costs of living such as fuel and food rose. Evictions and potential evictions became headline news with young children from families likely to be put of out their homes being shown on the evening news. In more economically depressed parts of the country the quality of much private sector housing deteriorated to new lows while MPs talked out bills designed to improve the rights of tenants and the Chancellor of the Exchequer did all he could to encourage prices to rise further and faster through to May 2015, reducing the stamp duty bill by £800 million in December 2014 and removing all tax restrictions on wealthy pensioners buying property (to let) with their annuities before or by April 2015. And, all the time, the existing housing stock was being used less an less efficiently with more flats and rooms in houses than ever before being left empty.
Dr Paul Watt is Senior Lecturer in Urban Studies in the Department of Geography, Environment & Development Studies at Birkbeck. He is author of ‘Understanding Social Inequality’ with Tim Butler (Sage, 2007), and editor of ‘Mobilities and Neighbourhood Belonging in Cities and Suburbs’ with Peer Smets (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014). He is the author of numerous articles on social housing.