Economic Injustice and the Disintegration of Mixed Communities

by Rev Paul Nicolson, Zacchaeus 2000 Trust.

Delivered at the Defend Council House Lobby in Committee Room 7 at the Parliament at 1pm on 11 Oct 2010.

The decision to cap housing benefit is a spectacular example of economic injustice. It continues decades of the disintegration of economically mixed communities, and hits the poorest households below the belt – while protecting the speculators and landlords who profit from high rents and therefore high housing benefit.

I was a Parish priest in a beautiful village in the Chiltern Hills from 1982 to 1999. Most people have seen it on television, where it is called Dibley.  During that time, a combination of the sale of council houses and private speculation ended the mixed community of rich, middle class and poor. The right to buy led to the sale of council houses to sitting tenants for £25,000 they are now being sold on at around £250,000; the villagers’ rented cottages were bought by a speculator in the 1940s and sold off for a fortune every time a tenant died. You have to raise at least ££400,000 to live in Dibleyland now unless you are a servant, a farm labourer or a vicar in tied houses. Continue reading