If there was any reason (and there are many others) why the government should look again at council house building, it is the extreme bonus paid to the chief executive of private housebuilder, Persimmon.
Jeff Fairburn has received £50m worth of shares as part of a record-breaking bonus scheme. In total he will get bonuses totalling £110 million.
He says he deserves his £110m because he has “worked very hard” to reinvigorate the housing market. (Some suggest that the rich need bonus incentives to work hard, while the poor need benefit cuts as an incentive to work hard).
According to Inside Housing magazine, “more than half the homes sold by York-based Persimmon last year went to help-to-buy recipients, meaning government money helped finance the sales. Persimmon’s share price has nearly tripled since help to buy was launched in April 2013.”
The Guardian newspaper has calculated that a donation of £4.6m (just 4% of Fairburn’s bonus) could provide a home for all of the 58 homeless families in York where Persimmon is based.
According to the National Audit Office (September 2017), there has been a 60% increase in households in temporary and permanent accommodation since 2010/11. That is 77,000 households including 120,000 children.
But they are the poor and they don’t really matter because Jeff Fairburn is doing ok and the Persimmon share has tripled thanks to the government’s housing policies.
And people ask why I am getting more cynical in my old age ……