The last post got me thinking about housing again - and particularly about local government and housing. Two things bother me about council housing policies and council tax rates.
First of all, the ridiculous idea that people who under use the home they have are given a discount from their rates for doing so. I don't see why they should be - yes, I know that, in theory, they are less drain on resources, but by keeping that house underused they are also preventing someone else from contributing to the local economy. At best that balances out - at worst, and more likely, it costs the local economy money.
The second thing that bothers me is the way housing is allocated. I know the BNP claim that there are actual policies to house immigrants and ethnic minorities ahead of the indigenous population in some areas. I'm not sure that is the actual policy, but what is - usually - true is that the housing is allocated on "need" rather than entitlement.
I don't subscribe to the belief that ethnic minorities are more "needy" than indigenous people nor do I agree that just because an immigrant chose to make themselves homeless and jobless and come here gives them a greater "need" than someone who has lived here all their life and is homeless and jobless through no fault of their own - but, apparently, local authorities do.
So to redress these issues here is my plan for a better housing policy.
The Stan Plan for council tax and housing priority
Before I go into the actual policy I should point out that I saw nothing wrong with the old Maggie style Community Charge - the poll tax. It was relatively simple and fair - you live in a community so you pay for the services that community provides.
I still don't see why a 30 year old living at home with mum and dad, earning £30,000 a year, driving around in a £20,000 car and taking two or three holidays a year (yes, I know people like this) should be exempt from paying for local services, but there you go.
I don't agree with local income tax because I don't see why someone should pay more for a service just because they earn more. The Community Charge was fair and equitable - bring it back, I say!
Anyway - on to the policy. As I said before, I think it is stupid to reward people for keeping homes empty or underused. Yes, they possibly use less services (debatable as they still get their bins emptied, street cleaned and streetlights maintained - but I won't go into that now).
I'm not sure what the rebate is (25%?), but it is plain daft to me. Instead I propose a sliding scale of charges depending on the number of bedrooms that home is designed for. I say "designed for" to ensure that someone can not get around the charge by converting their 3 bed house into a one bedroom house.
Sliding Scale for Council Tax
1 bed house/flat with 1 occupant - 100% charge (i.e. - no rebate, but no additional charge either)
2 bed house with 1 occupant - 125% charge
3 bed house with 1 occupant - 150% charge
4 bed house with 1-2 occupants - 175% charge
5 bed house with 1-3 occupants - 200% charge
Note: an occupant needs to be registered to that address - so if a couple has a 4 bed house but two kids at uni they won't pay the additional charge.
There will also be reduced charges for larger families living in smaller homes.
1 bed house with 2 or more occupants - 25% discount.
2 bed house with 4 or more occupants - 25% discount
3 bed house with 5 or more occupants - 25% discount
You get the picture. Incidentally - I personally would get no benefit from this as I have a 3 bed house with 4 occupants. So I'd pay the same as I do now - the idea is to encourage people to make better use of their homes and, also, to encourage people to have larger families. The other benefit is that people whose homes are becoming too small for their family could possibly benefit from reduced costs allowing them to save for a larger more suitable home.
The following table lists the priority for council housing. Each successive priority surpasses the previous so someone on priority 3 is more entitled to a council house than someone on priority 2.
1 Length of time you have lived in Britain
2 Length of time you have lived in the local authority area.
3 Length of time you have lived in the town/village/city
4 You were born in Britain
5 You were born in the local authority area
6 You were born in the town/village/city
7 Your parents were born in Britain
8 Your parents were born in the local authority area
9 Your parents were born in the town/village/city
10 Your grandparents were born in Britain
11 Your grandparents were born in the local authority area
12 Your grandparents were born in the town/village/area
..... and so on.
By that measure we can ensure that local people who can demonstrate a generational attachment to the local region are given priority for housing.
Seems fair to me.