Stormont plan to scrap Housing Executive as Flag protests continue


In the midst of a media storm over the flag protests our local politicians have one again nailed their colours to the flag that does not distinguish between green and orange- that of capital and greedy profiteering. The proposal by Stormont minister Nelson McCausland to scrap the Housing Executive originally set up to provide fair allocation of public housing is another pillar in the ongoing savage attacks on our class.

The  plan will not only result in essential cuts to jobs and services but will open up the floodgates to profiteers, slum landlords and sectarian discimination. According to the Belfast Telegraph, ‘under the proposals the Department for Social Development would be responsible for housing strategy, policy, legislation, funding and inspection. It would be supported by a new regional housing body, alongside the development of a new landlord function in the public sector, enabling access to private funding through an independent social housing rent panel which will agree annual rent levels’ (1)

The reality is the increased level of homelessness, lack of rent controls and social housing is as result of property speculation and housing becoming another capital commodity to be bought and sold. The lesson of this latest attack of housing provision is that unless we are organised in our communities and workplaces’ our politicians and their friend in big business will continue to chip away at everything from any notion of job security, workplace rights to the unemployed. As the writer Eammon McCann recently noted,"There is no separate Protestant working-class interest. The working class will advance in the future together, or, to the detriment of all, it won't advance at all."

Meanwhile, in the latest UN report Britain has been declared as the most unequal country in the West. Detailed statistics in the Human Development Report published last week also demonstrate that inequality has grown sharply during Conservative rule and that the poor in Britain now have to live on much the same incomes as their equivalents in Hungary and Korea. ‘The report shows that the poorest 40 per cent of Britons share a lower proportion of the national wealth - 14.6 per cent - than in any other Western country. This is only marginally better than in Russia, the only industrialised nation, east or west, to have a worse record. Measurements of the gap between rich and poor tell a similar story. The richest fifth of Britons enjoy, on average, incomes 10 times as high as the poorest fifth.’(2)

Unfortunately, this trend is only set to continue with a savage neo-liberal agenda being imposed tooth and nail by Westminster and its allies at Stormont. If the same energy, passion and anger was put into class war as it was into the sectarianism in the North we might just actually pose a solid threat to their agenda.  Our ruling class have declared war along ago on the rest of us the majority of the working class. We need to step up to the mark as its only going to get worse!

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* - in the first version of this article this plan was incorrectly described as a decision - it has  yet to be implemented