Additional pressure on housing supply caused by the siting of the London Olympics may have played its part in causing the immediate crisis in the borough of Newham, but the problem is much more widespread.
Tory Housing Minister Grant Shapps has accused Newham Labour Mayor Robin Wales of "playing politics" to benefit his party in next month's local government elections.
But, when Shapps made this comment about Newham's efforts to transfer 32,000 families on its housing waiting list to accommodation in other parts of the country, including asking one in Stoke to take responsibility for 500 families, he was probably unaware that Tory Westminster had acted similarly.
Westminster is intent on rehousing 500 families on housing benefit in Derby and Nottingham, so perhaps Shapps should accuse this Tory council of playing politics also.
The London borough of Waltham Forest has also rehoused some families on benefit from its waiting list in housing association properties in Luton and Kent, while Croydon has done similarly in Hull.
The real spur to councils in London seeking to persuade families to move out of the capital and to get housing associations to accept them is that the recent coalition government cap on housing benefit is pricing many households, especially larger families, out of the housing market.
The problem has hit first in London because of landlords profiteering from the visitor upsurge occasioned by the Olympics and in light of the ongoing net immigration into London, which ensures constant pressure on house prices, both for sale and for rent, in the capital.
However, it will spread into other areas of England, Scotland and Wales as the effects of the housing benefit cap intensify in conditions of ever-tightening supply of accommodation for rent.
The main underlying problem has been acceptance by all major political parties that housing is simply another commodity rather than a human right.
There was always a dichotomy between private ownership and private letting on the one hand and social ownership of homes for letting at below-market rents on the other.
Although council tenants have had the right to buy their homes for half a century, it was not until the 1980s that the Tory government of Margaret Thatcher embarked on an aggressive campaign to force local authorities to sell their housing stock at knockdown prices to tenants.
The Tories made no secret of their intention of dismantling yet another aspect of the welfare state, to be provided as profitably as possible by the private sector.
Part of this privatisation drive, which was adopted and pursued equally ruthlessly by new Labour, was the use of government incentives to blackmail council tenants into agreeing the block transfer of entire estates/schemes to housing associations.
This effectively transferred publicly owned homes into the private sector, albeit with some public supervision, and has led to unprecedented numbers on council housing waiting lists.
That situation can only become more critical since no government has chosen to treat housing with the seriousness it merits by embarking on a mass council housebuilding programme that could tackle a serious social need and create much-needed jobs by kick-starting the construction industry.
Rather than broach this essential question, the political parties addicted to neoliberalism abandon councils to play pass-the-parcel with poor families on the waiting list and create divisions between communities from different areas.
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