Tag Archives: sub-prime mortgage crisis

Good Fortune

John Fortune died on 31st December. I probably first saw him as Major Saunders in Yes Minister in 1982: he and his partner John Bird doing their unscripted – but terribly well-researched – double-talk were always the best part of Bremmer, Bird, and Fortune.

Rory Bremmer said:

John Fortune “had the most beautiful brain of any man I’ve ever known”.

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Filed under In The Media, LGBT Equality, Racism, TV reviews

The right to buy and the housing bubble

Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, writes in the Scotsman today:

RTB [Right to Buy] was introduced in Scotland in 1980 and operated largely unchanged for 20 years. Sitting tenants of public authorities had a right to buy their homes for a discount of up to 70 per cent for flats or 50 per cent for houses. The discount depended on how long you had lived there. While modernisation has slowed its impact, the overall consequences of RTB have been hugely popular.

The numbers are staggering – 490,000 social homes have now been sold in a nation of only 2.4 million households. For some households – not the poorest, but those on modest or below average incomes – it gave access to home ownership and to the accumulation of housing wealth that otherwise may never have happened.

In 2007, This Is Money reported that the cost of an average UK property had gone up by 90% over the previous 5 years: the Council of Mortgage Lenders also reported that the buy-to-let market was rising faster than the rest of the house-buying market. Five years later, the majority of new housing benefits are in work, and housing benefit is a profitable subsidy paid to those wealthy enough to take advantage of buy-to-let.

In 1975, the average house price in the United Kingdom was just over £10,000.
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Filed under Housing, Poverty

I never liked Charles Dickens

One of the recurring Christmas motifs is A Christmas Carol – the story of how Ebenezer Scrooge goes from a miserable rich man to a happy generous rich man. (We like stories like this.) As George Orwell notes in his famous essay, this is Dickens’ only and recurring solution to the problems of human misery – we should behave decently towards each other.

But I’ve never got on with the Dickensian style of writing, never to use one word where three sentences will convey the same effect, and while Claire Tomalin may say Continue reading

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Filed under Charles Dickens