Church of England exploits UK land needed for homes but turned into a commodity by all UK governments since 1979

20 June 2017

LETTER PUBLISHED BY THE CHURCH TIMES 23 JUNE 2017

Church of England exploits UK land needed for homes but turned into a commodity by all UK governments since 1979

Sir, — The catastrophe in the Grenfell Tower has thrown into sharp relief the inability of the housing market in London to find homes for a sudden surge of homeless individuals and families.

That is nothing new. Thousands of tenants had already been shipped out far away from their communities. It stems from the 1979 Thatcher government, which turned British land into a commodity and hurled it into an international market. They abolished rent controls, deregulated lending, and allowed the free flow of cash in and out of the UK. National and international money flooded into the UK housing market in short supply forcing up prices and rents.

The 1997 Blair and Brown government let it rip until it blew up in 2008. The poorest tenants have been made to pay for saving the banks in the taxation by local councils of benefit incomes shredded since 2011 by the Coalition/Cameron governments. British land has become a commodity to be traded like copper or coffee, gold or silver, and left unused until a profit can be made.

That means there are rows of empty “investments” in the smarter parts of London, and 600,000 unused plots of land owned by the four big UK builders, while there are record evictions, and thousands of people are desperate for an affordable home.

The Church of England exploits British land in that international commodity market to pay bishops and clergy, and our pensions, without shame or theological justification. I look forward to the day when we will cry from the roofs of our cathedrals that land is the free gift of a loving and generous God, and intended for shelter, food, fuel, and clothes for everyone, and put that principle into practice.

REV PAUL NICOLSON

Taxpayers Against Poverty

93 Campbell Road

London N17 0BF


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