UKIP had a storming weekend after winning seats in the local elections and coming top in the Euro polls.
So, with UKIP a growing political force and talk of a possible pact with the Tories before next year’s General Election, we thought we had better do some digging into the party’s housing policies.
UKIP’s housing spokesperson is a buy-to-let landlord Andrew Charalambous, who appears to be at least as colourful as his leader, Nigel Farage.
Charalambous, who goes by the nickname Dr Earth, is a qualified barrister, a property developer and a former special constable. He used to be a fruitarian, but is apparently now vegetarian, and has a stake in an “ecological nightclub”.
He describes himself as a “tantric master” and says he has dated some of the most beautiful women in the world.
The son of a Greek Cypriot who fought for Britain in WW2 and settled in the UK, he says immigration is part of British culture, but believes there is an issue with people taking advantage of the benefit system, particularly at a time of serious housing crisis.
“It is not a question of race; it is a question of space,” he has said.
He has stood unsuccessfully as both a Tory candidate (2010) and for UKIP (2012). Having been a Tory party donor, he defected to UKIP in 2011.
According to a recent Mirror report, last year he pocketed £745,351 from Haringey Council in north London in housing benefit from tenants including immigrants.
The Mirror seemed to think this was highly embarrassing, but Charalambous appeared rather laid back about it: “We don’t want to get into any business of questioning where people come from. That would be totally unfair.
“We operate in an area that is largely a migrant population. From a commercial point of view and a human point of view, we are not concerned about what the ethnic origin of the tenants.”
This did not satisfy the trade union GMB, which said he was a “housing hypocrite” who blamed foreigners for Britain’s housing crisis while taking millions of taxpayers’ money in rent subsidies.
Our research shows UKIP’s housing policies to be somewhat untroubled by detail.
For example, we cannot discover how UKIP feels about letting agent fees or licensing, but after unearthing various manifestos, the subject of immigration certainly makes it mark.
The party wants immigration to be controlled so that “large areas of British countryside will not need to be destroyed by house building”.
It also proposes that council house applicants whose parents or grandparents were born locally should be given priority.
Paul Nuttall, UKIP MEP for the north-west and UKIP deputy leader, has been particularly vocal on the subject, saying that Britain’s “chronic under-supply of homes” is a “crisis fuelled by the unprecedented immigration into our country of the last decade. Nearly nine out of ten new homes required in the UK result from inward immigration.
“Unless we withdraw from the European Union, the immigration spiral will continue and the demand for housing will be compounded.”
UKIP also promises to “fight proposals like unwanted housing developments, unwanted out-of-town supermarkets and inappropriate energy schemes like incinerators, wind and solar farms that will ruin the character of our communities”.
It is against the HS2 rail project, wants a new wave of council house building, would scrap Section 106 agreements which it describes as bribes, and says that planning decisions should not be made by bureaucrats swayed by “major developers with large legal cheque books”.
UKIP would also scrap the so-called bedroom tax, is opposed to “excessive” housing developments, and wind farms, and would end preferential planning treatment for travellers.
Vanessa Warwick, of the landlord website Property Tribes, did an interview with Nigel Farage two years ago in which he hinted that UKIP would reinstate direct payment of housing benefit to landlords.
The link to the Mirror story is here:
And finally, here is the man who could be having a say in housing policy before too long, in action at last year’s UKIP party political conference (although, be warned, it lasts 16 minutes and frankly, is as boring as every other party conference speech we have ever heard).