By Peter Ambrose
“No Place Like Home” – an introduction to Z2K Housing Review
This is the final video of “No Place Like Home”, the four-part film introduction to Z2K Housing Review.
Father John, the Chaplain for St Mary’s RC Primary School in Battersea, and Dermot Bryers make the point that everyone has the right to be heard on matters that concern their health and welfare – and everyone must listen.
The rest of Part 4 looks back to the material covered in Parts 1 to 3. The key lessons to be drawn from the film as a whole are:
- Overcrowding and other forms of housing stress produce very serious health conditions with consequent increased costs to the NHS – it also significantly reduces the cost-effectiveness of investment in education.
- The housing problem does not simply impact on lower income people or those on ‘derived estates’ (although no doubt they suffer most) – a number of adverse and health-threatening effects of housing unaffordability affects also ‘middle England’ people on average and above average incomes.
- Events in the housing sector, including highly irresponsible lending, the development of complex financial products, the short-term ‘bonus culture’ and the weakness of the tri-part regulatory mechanism has directly generated the huge financial and banking crisis.
- There has been no strategic or holistic view about housing policy – policies have been based on short-term political expediency, electoral calculation and crisis management.
- The consequences of the chronic maladministration of the housing benefit system can be catastrophic at the personal level.
- If we do not significantly and urgently increase housing output, by using new technologies and practices and with proper attention to good design and quality, the consequences will be calamitous. High output and good quality has been achieved in Japan and we must learn these lessons.
- Failures in housing policy, and all the adverse social, economic and financial consequences of these, have led to a loss of trust in politics and politicians. The development of more holistic, strategic, equitable and cost-effective housing policies might well begin to redress this situation. ‘Home is where the vote is’.
The last word, appropriately, is with the three mothers from Battersea who are living in conditions that are a shocking indictment of many decades of failure and neglect in housing policy formation. This film is dedicated to them.