A Letter to David Cameron
To The Rt Hon David Cameron, Prime Minister
Dear Mr Cameron
I write firstly to congratulate you on your election victory which in my opinion was won on the back of the very excellent job that you and George Osborne did in repairing our shattered economy.
Without a strong economy there simply isn’t the money to spend on maintaining and expanding our wonderful NHS, and other public services that are so much a part of the fabric which binds together the world’s longest continuous democracy. The United Kingdom.
I believe that you are a genuinely caring Prime Minister, who whilst believing fully in the democratic free enterprise system, which has delivered unparalleled wealth to our country over the last couple of hundred years, also understands that intrinsically some further wealth redistribution is necessary before all parts of our society feel the benefit of a caring and progressive capitalist system.
With this in mind I urge you to consider fully the impact of implementing a “right to buy” policy on our precious Housing Associations who are finding it difficult enough at present to come to terms with understanding their commercial position in future housing provision.
Raising funds for house building is never easy. I know because I have been doing it most of my life! Finding land and obtaining planning permission is fraught with uncertainty. Balancing those elements with having your balance sheet devastated by being forced to sell off your precious assets at a discount rather than use them as collateral for growth is like attaching a ball and chain to a drowning man.
I urge you to consider these implications fully before rushing in an act of Parliament which might devastate this area of the house building industry.
In my opinion society needs two things before it can be considered progressive. Firstly, that all its people have access to a secure long term home, whether rented or owned. Secondly a job or business to go to every day (congratulations on delivering on this).
I was born in a council house on an impoverished estate in Bristol and was the product of a broken and disenfranchised upbringing. I never really went to school, was largely uneducated and spent many lonely hours as a child wondering the streets, including through the night, due to my difficult home life and a system that was so far removed that it didn’t even know I existed for many years, so I know better than most that it is possible to face difficulties in life and survive.
My parents were fortunate in one way, they both had secure homes. My father a one bedroom council flat and my mother a small caravan which was eventually replaced by a local authority provided prefab. Those homes gave them a sense of belonging somewhere. A sense of community. The rent was reasonable and they were able to live there for the rest of their lives, protected by an act of Parliament.
You are now in possession of a working majority in The House of Commons and with it the power to make a real difference to the stability and growth of our society. You have an opportunity to prove that progressive politics does not belong to the left! It belongs to the party which governs with economic savvy, laced with compassion. It’s a matter of balance!
I ask again that you personally consider all aspects of any policy affecting registered housing providers and make sure that you do not damage their balance sheets at a time when they face increased pressures to grow. We are drastically short of affordable housing across the UK. Our Housing Associations can deliver, but they need your help in shoring up their balance sheets, not devastating them.
As I said to Michael Gove at a lunch last year… “It is vital that the powerful horses of free enterprise are properly harnessed to society, so that as they move forward, everyone goes with them”.
The last coalition government, ably led by you, fed and watered those horses and got them moving again following the worldwide financial collapse. I am convinced that now, with a majority in The House, you will feed them even more, with even better food, but it is essential to remember that true greatness isn’t about how rich or powerful you are, but by how you treat other people! In this instance these people are the citizens of the United Kingdom.
Treat them properly and you will remain in power for years and your two terms in office will be remembered with fondness and awe, perhaps even by your opponents.
I wish you well and thank you for considering further the matter of implementing a disastrous ‘right to buy’ policy on our important social housing providers.
Dr Stephen Fear