Thatcherism and the policy of RTB Essay Example
Thatcherism and the policy of RTB Essay Example

Thatcherism and the policy of RTB Essay Example

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  • Pages: 15 (4061 words)
  • Published: May 12, 2018
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Thatcher believed and the effects of her policy which was duded by this ideology through the analysis of R TAB policy in Britain. This paper firstly introduces "Thatcher's democracy' characterized by individualism that acted as the agent of all her prevarication policies, then studies the detailed terms contained in the ART policy, which to a great extent facilitated the sale of council housing, and lastly evaluates the legacy left by the ART B policy to the poor in terms of the insufficient supply, the worsening of the homelessness problem and the reduced quality of council houses.

Through the analysis, this paper comes to the conclusion that the ART policy s too radical to regard as a successful housing policy concerning the harsh situation left to the poor which can be attributive to its initial deviation from the ration


ale off housing policy. Key. Fords: Thatcher's, Housing policy, Right to buy, Radical reform, Poor people Outline .

Introduction . Thatcher's A. British New Right B. Democracy characterized by individualism C. Property-owning Democracy II. Main issues included in the policy of Right to Buy (ART) A.

Tenants eligible to buy council housing B.

Discount for tenants who buy their rented houses C. Rules of mortgage IV. The impacts of the ART policy on the poor people A.

Homeless people . Insufficient supply 2. Increased rents 3. Decreased subsidies B. Council tenants 1. Poor quality 2.

Identity stigma V. Conclusion "Waste of money! " This doesn't sound like something nice to chant about the cost of someone?s funeral, especially when the person is a prior leader of a country who is supposed to receive respect for the service

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he/she has provided for the people. However, that is exactly what happened when Mrs..

Thatcher's coffin passed an intersection where around three hundred demonstrators gathered to show their opposition against her policies of revitalization (Marksmen).

The opponents accused the government of using tax payers' money to pay for Thatcher's funeral cost which amounted to as high as ten million pounds. They argued that the cost of Thatcher's funeral should also be "privatized" since they, as tax payers, had been suffering from the cut of government' public expense following Thatcher's prevarication policies (Palmer, Vicky and Andy).

Right to Buy, a prevarication policy of council housing, was among the first policies involved in Thatcher's prevarication reforms. Up until sass when it was Thatcher's term of office, council housing ad been playing an important role in Britain in meeting the demand for housing since the early 1 sass. After WWW, the existing council houses were not sufficient to settle down the masses who had fought for their county, so the first council housing program emerged as the time required: "homes fit for heroes".

From 1914 to 1971, the share of public rented sector in British housing tenure maintained a steady rise.

However, the enormous number of council houses and the high level of government subsidies to housing rent constituted a heavy burden on British financial budget. Actually, in 1976, British government had to borrow money from MIFF (International Monetary Fund) to keep their domestic economy running (Lie 123). In the context of British depressed economy came Mrs.. Thatcher.

The iron lady, as soon as she came into charge in 1 979, began radical reforms to revive British economy.

Holding her Thatcher's, "a belief in free market economics and in individual enterprise and responsibility' (Quintal), Thatcher carried out the policy concerning the prevarication of council housing---Right to Buy(ART), the initial goal of which is to increase the owner-occupation rate by introducing a series f preferential issues to tenants who buy their rented houses in council housing section.

However, behind the considerable increasing rate of owner- occupation brought by ART was a harsh condition to poor people, who were in most need of available council housing, in terms of the poor quality, the high rent and the insufficient supply in the council housing sector. This paper will first introduce main characteristics of Thatcher's that are contributive to the formation of ART, then give a detailed explanation of the major issues contained in ART B, and lastly elaborate three catalogued demerits ART left to he poor people in the council housing sector.

The prevarication of council housing initiated by Thatcher's ART B policy has been a controversial legacy in Britain; with focus on its impact on the poor, it is too radical a reform to regard as successful.

The author combines Thatcher's and the demerits of ART B left to the poor in an attempt to contend that an ideology that sounds macroscopically brilliant but without deliberations on its potential effects to the specific reality has a great chance of causing serious social problems, which can function as an advance notice for governments of other countries hen they are formulating a social policy.

ART policy introduced by Thatcher in 1 980 has been one Of the most significant political decisions for Britain, which explains that numerous

studies have been conducted about this policy from various perspectives According to Professor Mao URI, Thatcher's prevarication policies have shown her quality of decisiveness and farsightedness towards the trend of economic globalization and the brand new role market was playing in Britain (220). Besides, "The R TAB can be qualified as hugely successful in increasing access to homeownership by reinserting wealth from the state to private households and by decreasing the stock of social housing.

These are undeniably good reasons for conservative politicians to celebrate the ART" (Silkiness and Ham). Another effect of the ART worth praising is that it "stimulates labor migration" as the prior social tenants became then housing owners who enjoyed the total freedom to decide whether to live in their house, instead of being restricted from freely moving by relevant rules under social housing System (Van Ham et al).

Michael Hostilities, the then housing minister, declared that "no single ice of legislation has enabled the transfer of so much capital wealth from the state to the people" (Cohen).

Together with the compliments Thatcher receives for her policy of ART B, quite a few articles also reveal several unsatisfactory outcomes brought by this policy: first, among council houses that were sold, attractive houses far outnumbered flats; (Silkiness and Ham 5); in addition, the increased rent also harshly drove out a considerable number of people who could not pay for it out of the shelter of council housing and then became the homeless (Burrows).

The studies with the inclusion that the benefits brought by ART overweight its harms share the identical approach to analyzing this policy; they take ART B more as a

political method to revivalist British economy than a housing scheme whose ultimate goal was supposed to be solving British housing problem.

For those who recognized the demerits of ART among what the author has access to, they didn't relate the unsatisfactory outcomes much to Thatcher's, the policy maker's ideology which actually determined at the very first the direction of the housing policy; also, each of them has scattered points while few has Winchester the main impacts left to the poor by the ART as a whole picture. This paper will make contributions with regards to the mentioned limitations of the existing literature on Thatcher's ART B.


Thatcher's Thatcher is the representative of British New Right, an ideology originated in America and then was spread widely in Britain as Mrs.. Thatcher run the office. It is developed on the base of laissez-fairer liberalism, whose core value is to decrease the interference from the government in economy while let the market itself be the nuclear agent of economic activities.

British New Right forms the initial ground for Mrs.. Thatcher to shape her own convictions which later are frequently referred to as Thatcher's. Inheriting the principle of "liberal economy', Mrs..

Thatcher insisted on weakening the government's role in not only the economic area but also other social spheres, including the welfare system. In other words, Mrs.. Thatcher determined to shrink the considerable welfare expenditure from British government to help revive British depressed economy, which shook the traditional belief held by this "welfare state" that would like to provide its citizens with "a system of social security 'from the cradle to the grave'"(Savannah et.

L. 32). Mrs.. Thatcher

declared in 1 981, "Economics are the method, the object is to change the soul" (Garnett 416).

For the Iron Lady, the "soul" she desires to implant into the British is what she believes as the authentic democracy that is characterized by individualism.

Mrs.. Thatcher had frequently referred to the concept of "democracy" to justify her own political stand even before she won the general election in 1 979; or put it another way, she had constantly attempted to "rectify" the publics view on the "distorted" concept Of democracy by her own policies as she once claimed: "Democracy---the word is seed in all sorts of ways and its meaning has become distorted ("Speech" 15). According to Mrs.

. Thatcher, the real democracy always put the rights of the individual in a priority of the collective rights, and encourages "self-sufficiency and voluntarism" (Thatcher, "What's" 5-11). In the lecture entitled 'M/hat's Wrong with Politics" she gave to the 1 968 Conservative Party conference, Mrs..

Thatcher argued that "the welfare state, by providing basic security, had discouraged popular interest in politics and thus undermined democracy" and she hoped to "reverse the increasing authoritarianism of government by educing its scope".

In retrospect, consistency emerges explicitly between Thatcher's belief in democracy and the later introduced policy of ART B whose initial goal is achieving prevarication of council housing. More closely related to the ART B policy is the "Property-Owning Democracy" which had become "a cornerstone of the Conservative party's appeal to the nation" since it was coined by a Conservative PM in 1924 (Lund). Thatcher claims the Conservatives' approach to Property-Owning Democracy as "a very human concern" since living in council

housing sector that was in poor maintenance t that time was linked to identity stigma.

With this light, Mrs..

Thatcher justified the sales of council houses as a most sincere desire held by the Conservative Party for raising the "self-respect and independence" for council housing dwellers. She further declared that "every family should have a stake in society and the privilege of a family home should not be restricted to the few'; it sounded like Mrs.. Thatcher was fighting for the equal right for people who could only crowd in council houses which shared more and more identities with slums due to the lack of governments funds to maintain them in a good shape.


Thatcher's perception of democracy which acted as the guiding ideology for all her later political reforms as well as her own declaration on Property-owning Democracy provided the Conservative government with the strongest and the most direct rational for the policy of ART B. After the review Of Mrs.. Thatcher's ideology, it seems that through ART, a housing policy that is supposed to be solving the problems most relevant to housing, what Mrs..

Thatcher endeavored to solve was the problems that were at a much more macroscopic and abstract level---to cut down the governments expenditure on welfare system to improve British financial indention, to encourage the spirit of individualism among her citizens and to help council housing dwellers regain social respect as claimed. What Mrs.. Thatcher dismissed was the important role played by council housing then for us applying comparatively decent shelters for the poor who cannot afford a residential place In any way.

It was, actually, "mainly the urban middle

class who stood to benefit from the right to buy the freehold of their homes" (Quintal).

The little consideration Mrs.. Thatcher had given to the core of a housing policy and the lack of a deliberate estimation of council tenants' archiving power before carrying out the radical reform Of R TAB preset the embarrassing situation to-be left to the unrealized group of poor people. II. Main issues included in the policy of Right to Buy (ART) The R TAB policy introduced by the Conservative government in 1980 officially entitled the council tenants to the legal right to buy the council houses they lived in.

To facilitate the process of prevarication, the government introduced two major preferential terms to tenants who would like to buy the council houses as their own: a considerable discount on the council houses' market values and much lower mortgage rate subject to encourage people to buy a house or flat "on the basis initially of a part-payment which they complete later when their incomes are high enough" (Conservative Manifesto).

The discount the government offered to tenants who were to use their right to buy council houses had gone through a process of first increasing and then declining.

Initially, the discount became effective under the condition of a three-year qualifying period for the tenants occupying the council houses. As long as the qualifying period was satisfied, the tenants could enjoy a 33% discount; and for each additional year of their tenancy they qualified for an additional 1% discount, up to a maximum level of 50%" (Wilcox). Over the years, the terms Were varied to make the scheme more generous. In 1984, the

qualifying period for an entitled discount reduced from three years to two years together with the maximum of the discount increasing from 50% to 60% against the open market value.

In 1986, the discount of buying a council flat was made even more generous; the least discount for a qualifying period of two years rose from 33% to 44%, "rising by 2% for each subsequent year of tenancy to a maximum of 70%" (Wilcox).

At the same time when the proportion of discount was set, an exact cash limit of discount was also imposed . The cash limit was initially set at EYE,OHO in 1980, and was then raised to EYE,OHO in 1987, and then ?50,000 in 1989, and it remained at that level until 1997 when the government reduced it to EYE,OHO.

In 2001 this figure was further reduced to E 15,000 in "forty two areas Of high demand in the south-east" (Wilcox; Pickaxe). Apart from the generous discount offered by the government, a series of preferential terms on mortgage were also introduced to prompt the purchase of council houses.

According to the Conservative manifesto released in 1 979, the government would "ensure that 100 per cent mortgages are available for the purchase of council and new town houses"; and it would work in tandem with the reduced mortgage interest rates and the tax relief given to home buyers.

The ART sales of council housing on a large scale led to an immediate insufficient supply for people in need, which aggravated the crisis of homelessness in Britain. The prevarication scheme of council houses went well under the ART B policy. Within a decade from

1 981 to 1991 , approximately the period when Mrs.

. Thatcher was the prime minister, the proportion counted y the public rented sector among all the housing tenure in Great Britain decreased by almost 20% from 29. 0% to 11 . 0,or the sharpest fall since WWW in the range of a decade (CLC. Gob. UK).

In terms of number, around 1,200,000 council houses were sold out in this period (Wilcox). After the considerable sale, not a single scheme of rebuilding council houses was introduced to compensate the loss in council housing sector. As indicated by Steve Wilcox, "local authorities are only free to reinvest 25% of R TAB sales receipts", which significantly weakens the capability of the council housing sector to provide shelters for poor people in need.

To take a quick look into the reason why the government didn't build some new council houses to ease the pressure of insufficient housing supply may help us better understand that the harsh situation left to poor people who then became the homeless came not as an unexpected result. According to the declaration the Conservative party made in their manifesto in 1 979, "[alls it costs about three times as much to subsidies a new council house as it does to give tax relief to a home buyer, there could well be a substantial saving to the tax and ratepayer".

Although in the manifesto, the Conservative party led by Mrs.

. Thatcher only put the "substantial saving to the tax and ratepayer' as the reason why they chose to give home buyers a tax relief instead of subsidizing to improve the status of existing council houses, the

deliberate calculation also indicated that doing so could save handsome money for the government; the focus of Mrs..

Thatcher's housing policy seem never shifted away from financial terms to housing itself. Such large-scaled shrinking supply of council housing led directly to the problem of homelessness. As suggested by statistics quoted in a study on British housing issue, in 1 981 , households without a regular accidence added up to 70010; after the R TAB policy, the number of such households increased to 126880, involving a total number of 363300 people (Min).

A more official number announced by the British government, although differed from the mentioned statistics on the exact number, an increasing trend of the homeless people was the same and definite: "[t]he figures for people accepted by councils as statutory homeless rose from 53,000 in 1978 to 1 70,000 in 1992. (354)" This official figure is very likely an underestimation of the actual situation of the homeless and the reasons for this underestimation provided by professor Chris Pickaxe are as below: Similar numbers were refused because they failed to meet the eligibility criteria.

But probably more than half of homeless people never approach a council, so they are never counted in the official figures of requests for assistance; instead they go directly to hostels and support centre. And since half or more of the homeless households who contact councils have their claims rejected, the number of households who are accepted as unintentionally homeless is a considerable underestimate of the failings of the housing 'system' (354).

Besides the statistics, even the ordinary people could sense more intension from the crisis of homelessness; a mass observation

conducted in Britain in 1992 when the ART policy had barely finished its duty showed that: 91% participants regarded "homeless" as a rather serious social problem in Britain at that time which was worth more concern from the government, even exceeding the proportion of people choosing "medical care" (69%) and "education" (77%) (Min 173).

Not only that the sharp reduction in council housings capability of providing accommodation for people in need effectively shut a great number of poor people outside the nuncio housing sector, but also the increased rent and the reduced subsidies in the council housing sector further drove the prior council tenants who could not afford the fee under the new rules out of the council sector, which was another contributive factor in the increasing number of the homeless.

According to the statistics quoted by Professor Chris Pickaxe, between 1980 and 1 989, the council rents rose from E 13 to EYE per week, with an increasing rate more than 50%; however, at the same time when the government required more money from the council tenants, the subsidies they offered to nuncio tenants fell by two-thirds, which means the council tenants would pay about five times more money to the council for living in a council house when the effects of the increased rents and the decreased subsidies Were combined.

Under such condition, the previous council tenants who could not bear the rocketed expense had no choice but to move out the council houses they once lived in; how can this harsh situation caused by the ART B policy serve the "human concern" claimed by Mrs.

. Thatcher? At least the fact couldn't speak

for itself concerning the rocket rate of the homeless after the ART B. The fact that a more serious problem of the homeless emerged after the ART B policy is beyond doubt, no matter seen from the statistics or the atmosphere of a "homeless crisis" strong enough to be sensed by the public.

The substantial shrinking of the scale of council housing sector was no different from blocking the way to a shelter from the sun and the rain for those people living in poverty who could in no way afford a house as their own or even the rent in a private sector, which goes against the rationale of council housing: "meeting housing need for those who cannot afford a seasonable quality of housing on the private housing market" (Pickaxe 347).

When compared with most people on the waiting list who had a little chance of successfully applying for a house from the council sector due to the strict eligibility criteria, or people who could not even be recognized as "unintentionally homeless" to be included in the waiting list, or those who once lived in the council shelter but later had to leave under the R TAB policy made by "an iron lady not for turning", should the council tenants who could still maintain their places in the council housing sector count their blessings? Let the legacy left in the council housing sector by the R TAB policy speak for itself.

The process of prevarication led by the ART policy brought mainly two changes to the council housing sector with respects to the overall quality Of council houses and the identity of council tenants.

First, the ART policy brought changes in the quality of the council housing stock. Forrest and Muriel provided the detailed effects concerning this aspect of the R TAB policy through their research (91 "Houses were much more likely to be bought than flats. Between 1981 and 1985 only 5 per cent of the sales were of flats here's they made up 30 per cent of the stock.

Besides, "[a]attractive houses, e. G. Post-war houses, with TV'0 or more bedrooms and a garden, and houses in attractive areas were most likely to be bought. " In other words, "the housing remaining in the council sector became less attractive, more likely to be in unpopular areas, and more likely to be made up of fled' (CTD.

In Pickaxe). Being left in the council housing sector with a poorer condition, Linda Therein, a resident of the estate since it was built, is bitter about the policy. She complaint that, "It took control away from the council's housing apartments.

Because of right-to-buy, we are in a mess.

" (Mulligan) Together with the decreased quality, came with "social stigma attached to living in a council house" (Lund). Also from the research done by Forrest and Muriel, the characteristics of council houses which linked more and more with poverty are also indicated: "Council housing in areas with higher levels of owner- occupation, higher income levels, and under Conservative control were more likely to be bought' (91). That means houses remaining in council sector were spread in poor areas where council housing formed the main housing stock.

This trend of council housings development of sharing more and more characteristics with slums and

being more closely related to poverty posed identity stigma on the poor people who were further unrealized during the ART policy. V.

Conclusion: In an attempt to display the relation between the ideology and the final result of the policy generated from it, this paper first reviewed important features Of the "democracy/' greatly admired by Mrs.. Thatcher. Through the analysis, it can be seen that the focus of Mrs.


Thatcher is always on a rather abstract and macroscopic level with a particular emphasis on the economic lied; even when it comes to a housing policy--?ART, the problem of housing is still not the core issue, but the governments financial condition. Through the elaboration on the specific terms introduced in the R TAB policy, the determination of the Conservative party was shown quite explicitly to facilitate the prevarication of council housing while they themselves also admitted in their manifesto that introducing such a scheme of prevarication concerns the government's financial condition.

In the last part, this paper displayed the legacy of the ART B policy with the emphasis constantly on the or people with the support of statistics and testimony.

The serious problem of homeless, the decreased quality and the unrealized identity suffered by poor people following the ART B policy all confirmed this paper's main argument, which is that the ART B policy generated by Mrs.. Thatcher's "democracy"' whose focus has never shifted away from the macroscopic economy in Britain is too radical to regard as a successful social policy considering the harsh condition it left to the poor.

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