When answering questions on “sink estates” in the House of Commons on 13th January the Prime Minister displayed a breath-taking degree of ignorance on housing that can only have been sustained by a growing arrogance. He suggested that people paid less than £10 for each hour they work would one day be able to save up to buy homes off the estates which he described as “affordable,” costing £450,000 or more. It would take them over 80 years from becoming an adult to pay the cost, even at very low interest rates. They would be dead before they were re-housed locally. David Cameron has to understand the lack of aspiration by his own party that consigns people to live in “sink estates”. Conservative beliefs, ignorance and their dislocation from the lives of others created and sustained “sink estates” after 1979; just as Conservatives created, owned and profited from the slums of the distant past. Between these times, in the 1950s and early 1960s, Conservative administrations did build more truly affordable housing for people not like them, but that was when Britain was more equal. We can’t be affordably housed while we remain the most economically unequal country in Europe. There is so much we could do to begin to change that, to tackle the disease of gross inequality rather than trying to patch up just a few of its symptoms. We could look to the rest of Europe for some answers. Or we can remain ignorant and become increasingly arrogant.
Original letter published in Prospect Magazine: