When English people talk about the North-South divide, there are often jokes about how Southerners can’t survive a Northern winter, or that a Northerner with a funny accent would immediately burst in to flames if they were forced to eat anything but a Greggs sausage roll for every meal. Unfortunately a very real divide exists today, with recent housing grant plans showing great economic disparities between Northern and Southern regions of England.
The Government are allocating £7 billion in housing grants to build new homes, buy land to build on and regenerate existing estates. A staggering 80% of this money will go to the South of England, with very little help in the North to improve worsening housing issues. Unsurprisingly this has garnered criticism from many representatives of Northern councils.
Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, has blasted the ‘skewed distribution of public money’ which clearly favours the South. Outrage also came from Judith Blake, leader of Leeds city council, who says the current plan only adds to the economic divide between London and the rest of the UK.
Amidst the Brexit chaos, take a moment to look at this. Shows Govt plans to distribute £7bn of housing cash. Red areas scoop 80% of the pot. pic.twitter.com/g2yYqmQr64
— Andy Burnham (@AndyBurnhamGM) November 15, 2018
The UK is currently suffering a housing crisis on multiple levels. There is evidence of homelessness rising in cities as more and more people are unable to afford rent prices. Poor quality housing is the major issue in towns such as Blackpool. In Derry, Northern Ireland, many houses sit empty due to large numbers of the population being forced to move away in order to find work that can support them. In more affluent areas, houses can have multiple spare rooms that sit empty and raise questions about the distribution of property, unfortunately people in these areas don’t want to downsize to accommodation that is more suitable.
Along with this incredibly unbalanced grant plan, the Independent revealed earlier this month that Theresa May’s flagship policy for building new council houses will not in fact result in new housing for more than half of those local authorities that need it most. Northern towns and cities such as Bolton, which has the third highest waiting list for social housing, will not be eligible to borrow more so they can meet the demand for families who need homes.
The £7 billion proposal by the Government will do nothing to relieve the pressure of these housing issues across the UK, as some of the most affluent areas such as Kensington and Chelsea will be receiving the majority of the funding. Instead, once again, we are seeing the classic Tory tactic of throwing out a big number that makes it looks like they’re helping those who need it most, when in reality money is going to those that are least deserved.