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The Circus of unearthly delights

November 15th, 2009 · Posted by Skuds in Politics · 1 Comment · Politics

Hot on the heels of his utter denial of global warming, Philip Circus has used his column in the West Sussex County Times this week to apply his (sadly not) unique wisdom on housing provision and his conclusion seems to be that we don’t need any.He gives what he sees as three main reasons why there is a demand for housing, and two of them are immigration.  The third is family breakdown.

As ever with Philip Circus the reality is much more complicated than the black-and-white (literally?) view he has.  One major factor that is entirely ignored is that we live longer now, and are able to live in our own homes instead of being shipped off to nursing homes for a lot longer.

Divorce and family breakdown is undeniably a factor, but so is the combination of being expected to leave home younger – or having to for work or for higher education – and not settling down.  In the past it was quite normal for young adults to go straight from living at home to living with their husband or wife.

Ironically, it is the immigrants who Mr Circus seems to dislike so much who often buck that trend, particularly those from the Indian sub-continent.  I know plenty of indian familes happily living in one house where it would be three or four households in my family.  There are fifty-year-olds with parents living with them as well as children in their twenties, and there are retired people sharing their house with their child, his wife and their children.

Another factor in demand for housing is the huge demand for affordable housing caused by the combination of the deliberate depletion of social housing stock and the over-inflated prices of other housing.   The house price inflation puts buying a place out of reach for many people, while the supply of social housing is so low most people are disqualified from it.

The column starts by saying how somebody at a recent public meeting asked “Why do we need these extra houses when we, the local community, are not aware of any obvious local need?”.   You would expect somebody who is a local councillor to be aware of the local need, or the size of the housing register in his own council, and of the results of housing need surveys that show the so-called hidden homeless that do not necessarily register on that list, and to therefore recognise that the questioner is basing his question on false premises and gently correct them.

The clue is in that word ‘hidden’.  Just because there are not people curled up in every shop doorway it does not mean that everybody is suitably housed.

Later on he comes out with some statistics about 70%  of the population wanting a severe cut in immigration.  Of course they do – they have been told it so many times by the Daily Mail, the Daily Express and the Sun that they are conditioned to think that.  There has been a particularly long-running and insidious campaign by the Mail and Express along those lines which has been so persistant that other newspapers and media have been obliged to follow suit.

The answer to our housing situation is not to pull up the drawbridge and turn the clock back to when we all stayed at home until we got married, only a few per cent would go away to university, and average life expectancy was below seventy.  We are where we are because of  increases in equality and opportunity such that we can all either enjoy or aspire to the sort of life that previously was only within the reach of a self-defined ruling class.

I am expecting the Circus clown’s next column to be entitled “Women! Know your place!” like in Harry Enfield’s Cholmondley-Warner sketch, blaming unemployment on women working and not staying at home to cook, clean and pop out babies at regular intervals.  Or maybe he will blame the state of our economy on the minimum wage so that we can’t effectively employ slave labour to compete with other countries.

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