Tagged: Mark Littlewood

Row looms over Tories ‘right to buy’ election pledge

Tory plans to allow 1.3 million tenants to buy their housing association homes have been condemned by the boss of one of the region’s biggest social landlords.

The Conservative election manifesto includes plans to extend the Right to Buy, which was granted to council tenants under Margaret Thatcher.

David Cameron placed home ownership at the heart of the Tories’ election campaign at the launch of the manifesto in Swindon yesterday.

He said: “Part of having a good life is having a home of your own.

 “That’s why Conservatives have committed to building a property-owning democracy for generations, and today I can tell you what this generation of Conservatives is going to do about it.”

But Michael Farr, executive director of development for Isos Housing, which has properties on South Tyneside, said the move would be ‘a catastrophic mistake’.

Being forced to sell off its housing stock would reduce the association’s ability to raise funds for new building, he said.

“Like any independent business, we borrow money based on our assets. If a government obliges us to sell a proportion of those assets, we will not be able to borrow in the same way, or at the same rates.”

“If the Government proposed supermarket chains must sell off stores, or a bus operator should sell its vehicles, people would say it couldn’t be done, and they had no right to do that.

“So why is it considered acceptable to sell off housing association assets?”

Mark Littlewood, director-general of think-tank the Institute of Economic Affairs, said he was “staunchly for” the approach.

He said:

“All of the evidence suggests that, when you transfer the housing stock away from state ownership and into the hands of individual citizens, they feel a greater stake in society.”

> Well he would say that, wouldn’t he ?

The IEA enjoyed its highest influence during the right-wing Tory administration of Margaret Thatcher. Milton Friedman believes the IEA’s intellectual influence was so strong that “the U-turn in British policy executed by Margaret Thatcher owes more to him (Antony Fisher, one of its founders) than any other individual.”

http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Institute_for_Economic_Affairs

Source – Shields Gazette, 15 Apr 2015

Tories accused of trying to bribe pensioners with pre-election handouts

David Cameron has been accused of trying to “bribe” pensioners while saddling younger people with government debt, after he promised to maintain state benefits for all old people.

Mr Cameron said his 2010 promise to preserve winter fuel allowances, free TV licences and bus passes regardless of pensioners’ income would last as long as he remains prime minister. Labour and the Liberal Democrats have promised to restrict the winter fuel payments for better off pensioners.

But critics accused the Conservatives of playing a cynical “generation game” to woo the “grey vote” because the over-65s are the most likely group to vote in May’s general election. Pensioners’ perks cost about £3bn a year and the Tories have pledged to find a further £12bn cuts in welfare if they remain in power.

Mark Littlewood, director general of the Institute for Economic Affairs, said:

“Politicians must stop trying to woo elderly voters at the expense of other generations. The elderly cannot remain immune to public spending restraint and abolishing these benefits would help ease the burden on the working age population.”

Jonathan Isaby, chief executive of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said:

“It’s hard to shake the suspicion that austerity stops at 65. The extraordinary debt that politicians have racked up will weigh very heavily on our children and grandchildren, and continuing these policies into the next parliament will only add to that potentially back-breaking burden. Politicians must stop attempting to bribe certain voters with special favours, show some backbone, and think about the long-term health of the nation’s finances by means-testing or abolishing these unaffordable benefits.”

Speaking in Hastings, Mr Cameron claimed that Labour’s plan to withdraw winter fuel payments from pensioners paying the 40p rate of tax would save only £75m a year. He said the Government’s decision to raise the age at which people qualify for the state pension would save more than half a trillion pounds.

The Prime Minister added:

“I don’t think we should break the system of having benefits for pensioners for such a small saving when you are giving up such an important principle and such a reassurance to people in our country.”

“Comfort, independence, companionship, health – these aren’t luxuries; they’re what people who have worked and saved all their lives deserve. The fact is, if something happens to you when you’re old, or to your income, you can’t as easily change your circumstances as younger people can.”

Source – The Independent, 24 Feb 2015