Selling Newham by the pound

24 Apr

Newham sold

The pile of last-minute news stories pushed out by the mayor’s PR team just before the pre-election quiet period included the announcement of NewShare – an “innovative shared equity programme” aimed at helping

hard working Newham residents who may not be able to afford a large deposit or the costs of purchasing a property on the open market, buy their own home.

This Tory rhetoric is accompanied by some suitably Tory action: Sir Robin has awarded an exclusive contract to the private sector to market residential properties through this new scheme.

As the council spinmeisters put it:

Countrywide PLC is one of the largest estate agents in the UK … with a proven track record managing and marketing affordable home ownership programmes.

Countrywide will be the “sole point of contact” for people wanting to buy shared equity properties from Newham and they will

guide potential purchasers as to which product is most suitable for them in respect of their earnings and aspirations. Part of their role will be to ensure that whilst applicants are not overstretched, they do maximise the equity stake they can afford to buy.

There’s no mention of how much the shiny-suited wideboys are being paid for this service, but that sounds like an incentive to push people as far as they possibly can to raise maximum revenue. What could possibly go wrong?

But where exactly are these properties going to come from, given that there’s a desperate shortage of affordable homes in Newham and the council is already committed to building 3,000 homes and buying another 500 for its private rental business Red Door Ventures?

NewShare consists of three different housing offers … new homes built by the council, street properties acquired by the council and empty council properties. [my emphasis added]

Yes, the council is going to address its lack of social housing by selling off empty council houses. And then selling the new properties it builds. But it’s all okay because council tenants who buy into the scheme will free up their current home for someone on the waiting list. Ta da!



And if that’s not enough doublethink to convince you:

The scheme will also increase the total volume of affordable housing in the borough as for every three empty council properties which are transferred to the new scheme the council will be able to build or buy two further new homes to offer for shared equity.

In Newham two is a bigger number than three! Selling three homes and building two to replace them will increase the supply of affordable housing.

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One Response to “Selling Newham by the pound”

  1. juno April 24, 2014 at 20:26 #

    Perhaps the newham’s ‘live, work and stay’ should be changed to ‘live, work and pay’.

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