Who Said the Tories Have Changed? The Kirkby Rent Strike and the Housing Finance Act 1972

Sparaszczukster’s article details yet another episode from recent history that has so many lessons for today. She discusses the legislation passed by Ted Heath’s government that was ostensibly intended to combat homelessness in the UK. In fact the local councils charged by the administration for doing so had no further funding to enable them to carry out their new duties. The result was an increase in homelessness and insecurity. And the more outspoken or honest Tories declared that the real purpose of legislation was to boost the private housing market. The article demonstrates that behind the Tories’ public pronouncements their is always a desire to do the exact opposite.

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Politicians have short memories. The moral outrage expressed by current Conservatives at the size of the nation’s Housing Benefits bill has been, unsurprisingly, targeted at an irresponsibly profligate Labour government but they forget that there is a history behind this that goes back to legislation that, in its time, did as much damage to the poor as today’s Bedroom Tax. Legislation that was passed by Edward Heath’s Conservative government in 1972. You may remember it. It was called the Housing Finance Act and it was sold to the public as a benign policy to house the homeless.

The Act placed a duty upon Local Councils  to give priority to housing homeless families with children. It gave councils a nasty surprise because it demanded they find the resources for an immediate result and it appeared to sweep away the idea that homeless families, new to…

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