When I first read about Grant Shapp’s idea for “helping” older people to downsize, my reaction was very similar to Ms Raccoon’s. On further reading, as the scheme is planned to be voluntary, I shrugged my shoulders. If no one is being forced, then the reaction over at Chez Raccoon is way over the top. We are not turning into North Korea. Well, not yet, anyways, although the jibe about communism is probably apt. The constant refrains we hear about older people hoarding bedrooms and exhortations for them to get out and make way for younger people is straight out of the little red book.
However, there is a point to be made here. Politicians do have this unpleasant habit of using nice cuddly words to disguise malign intent. On the face of it, elderly people living in large homes will be helped by the local authority to downsize. The LA will then let their property and pass on the rent (if there is any left). Sounds dandy.
Thing is… They could do this already. There is nothing stopping people going along to an agency – if they don’t want to deal with the nitty gritty themselves – and arranging to have their home let while they rent something more suited to their needs themselves. Nothing at all. It really is quite simple.
That there is not a rush of people doing it tends to suggest that they don’t want to do it. Why would the state acting as a middle man make it more likely to happen? Indeed, with the dead hand of the state involved, fuck up city looms large on the horizon and is a good enough reason to steer wide of the waiting rocks. Unless there is some “encouragement” tagged into the scheme, I don’t see a massive take-up. And how will the LA know who to encourage if they don’t start to poke about in peoples’ private affairs? Yes, the more you dig into it, the more you realise that the Raccoon piece does have a point. It isn’t compulsory, but there is the spectre of the state slavering over your property, ogling it with envious eyes, just waiting to get in there and do a little “encouraging”. And, no, I’m not paranoid.
The point is, none of this should be any business of the state. There is no need for the government to “do something”. Frankly, the less they do the better it will be for all concerned – indeed, the state in one form or another is responsible for restrictive planning laws that prevent new builds and contribute to a housing drought in the first place, not to mention the hyperinflation of prices caused by their amateurish interfering – sorry, fiscal policy. If Mr Shapps has the time to come up with such schemes, then he is clearly under employed and we need to have less of him and his ilk. This is an argument for either fewer MPs or to have them on a part time basis. That way they don’t have the time to dream up wacky schemes on stuff that is none of their business.
One can dream…