Cameron's plan involves demolishing tower blocks—is it much-needed regeneration, or social cleansing?by Prospect Team / January 15, 2016 / Leave a comment
This week, David Cameron announced plans to redevelop 100 of the country’s poorest “sink estates.” In practice, this means that the government is to spend £140 million pulling down concrete tower blocks and erecting new houses in their place. Up to 360,000 extra homes could be created under the scheme.
Cameron has branded the scheme a “blitz” on poverty—a much-needed regeneration of run-down areas that will help tackle social decay. But its critics insist that poorer tenants will be forced out of their communities by sky-high rents—and aren’t swayed by government reassurances.
Are the sceptics right? Or is Cameron’s scheme an admirable attempt to address a pressing issue? Our panellists share their views.
A perfect war to fight
Asa Bennett, Assistant Comment Editor at the Daily Telegraph
Who could dislike the sound of David Cameron replacing “sink estates” with “better homes”? Britons would much rather live in a house than a tower block, and poll after poll backs this up. Improving their way of life is compassionate Conservatism in action.
The Prime Minister has picked an ideal target—“sink estates”—allowing him to seize the mantle of social mobility and “One Nation” centrist politics. Jeremy Corbyn has mocked the amount of money offered by the government, but has opened himself up to accusations that he doesn’t want council house residents to live better. Labour lost the last election because voters thought it was too soft on welfare, so further “pro-welfare” jibes will be politically damaging.
The government will have to make sure it gets the detail right in redeveloping “sink estates,” ensuring that affected residents aren’t left out of pocket—like those who had bought their homes under Right to Buy as part of Margaret Thatcher’s “property-owning democracy.” In terms of over-arching tone at least, the Prime Minister has picked a perfect war to fight.
Danny Dorling, Halford Mackinder Professor of Geography at Oxford University and author of books on social inequality and housing
When answering questions on “sink estates” in the House of Commons on 13th January the Prime Minister displayed a breathtaking degree of ignorance on housing that can only have been sustained by a growing arrogance.…