Clare Foges Anti-Landlord Letter in The Times

Clare Foges Anti-Landlord Letter in The Times

11:12 AM, 9th February 2016, About 8 years ago 50

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Clare Foges Anti-Landlord Letter in The Times

Clare Foges was the speech writer for David Cameron 2011 – 2015

Clare Foges was the speech writer for David Cameron between 2011 and 2015.

This weekend I read her “readers letter” in The Times. If you saw it then you’d probably have been as rattled by it as I was. In fact, I was so annoyed that I decided to write and publish a rebuttal here in the hope that she (Clare Foges), The Times and other National Media will pick up on it. Clare Foges Anti-Landlord Letter in The Times

The article, entitled “Blair’s support for buy-to-let landlords flies in the face of plans to let people buy their homes” is a prime example of the ignorance and opportunism driving a present-day anti-landlord bandwagon, and the absurd destructive policies of Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne.

The statement within Clare Foges’ contribution to The Times, that I feel best encompasses the dogma in policy-making, which the Omnia Judicial Review is seeking to resolve, is this:

Those “investments” might have been someone’s home.

The problem with both this article and Clause 24 itself is that “those investmentsare someone’s home. They are the homes of millions of renters across the length and breadth of Britain: renters just as entitled to live within the capital (or anywhere in the country) as Ms Foges. Crucially, moreover, they are the homes of which a great many renters will be deprived, should the floundering George Osborne and the article’s cheerleading author be permitted to get their way.

Her dismissal of such renters as “suckers”, says a great deal more of the attitude towards tenants of Ms Foges and her puppeteers in the Conservative Party, than that of landlords themselves. The reality is that tenants are dynamic, valuable and essential to the British economy. They are a mobile workforce, moving and progressing throughout their careers, between multiple geographical locations. Among their number are migrant workers with virtually no desire buy a house in the UK, and a great many young British people who, having just entered the labour market, are dependent upon access to private rental accommodation. Promotion and progress are after all, just as much an issue of geography as well as hard-work.

The reality is that “the knackered commuter head-lolling home on the train, the shift worker, the twenty-something scraping together a deposit” of whom Ms Foges expresses concern, are near one and the same as the 4.6 million “suckers” likely to suffer as a result of the Treasury’s catastrophic short-sightedness  – Towards these critical members of society no such “benevolent winds” will be blown by Clause 24. They will instead suffer from rent rises, evictions, increased competition for contracting rental supply, and the saving-up of that first deposit made more difficult than ever.

Yet in addition to those not seeking to own their own home due to career transition, there is another highly important type of renter: the poor and vulnerable of Britain. For such people, purchasing property will remain a non-option, regardless of house prices, owing to their possession of neither the deposit, income, nor credit record necessary to obtain a mortgage. The sickest irony of George Osborne’s tax grab is that it will be those guaranteed not to buy their own home who will be pushed out of the private rental sector entirely. At a time when demand for social housing is already at record levels, the imposition of Clause 24 promises to utterly overwhelm council housing departments. What does Ms Foges or the Treasury propose be done about this? Neither has deigned to explain.

So what was David Cameron’s former speech writer really cheering on? Wham! Financial pressure for landlords to raise rents. Wallop! Eviction of tenants from rental properties no longer financially viable. Ding-ding! The poorest and most vulnerable renters on the floor and out for the count. And here is your winner… homelessness!

Which brings me to another prevalent trait of Clare Foges’ article: its dishonest stereotyping. Contrary to Ms Foges’ emotive spin, the ruination of mortgaged individual landlords is not a series of blows upon those for whom material comfort rests upon what they already have, where their parents invested, or when they were born. The overwhelming majority of buy-to-let landlords are in reality, industrious and self-sufficient members of the working and middle classes, who own just one rental property. Rather than recognise such people for who they really are, Clare Foges deliberately misrepresents them as a work-shy bourgeoisie, born rich with a silver spoon in their mouths. Well guess what, I inherited none of my properties from my parents: one of whom ran a small pet shop, and the other is a cleaner and dog-walker. To myself, and every buy-to-let landlord I know, such clichés do not apply. This is nothing more than a clumsy attempt to excuse woeful policy making and appeal to left-leaning voters: it’s only success however will be to ensure that every landlord to have voted Conservative in the last election will never do so again.

Of particular insult is that, the wealthiest landlords – corporate institutions and cash-buyers that such class-jibes perhaps more accurately represent – will be exempted in totality from the increased tax demands of Clause 24. So Clare Foges, will the richest incorporated landlords, who just happen to be donors to, or members of, the Conservative party, be among the 1 in 5 of landlords predicted by the Treasury to be affected by this measure? Will Richard Benyon or the Reuben Brothers pay more tax as result of Clause 24? No of course not. Her article’s stereotypes were cheap, immature and way off the mark.

As an aside, and in light of Ms Foges being Chief speech writer to the Prime Minister during the years 2011-15, I wish to further ask, was it herself that wrote David Cameron’s 29/04/15 speech, featuring the now-broken promise not to raise income tax for the next five years after the upcoming election?

The issues of high price competition, block-viewings, gazumping, and an inference from an estate agent that Clare Foges might consider prostituting herself to secure a property, are the result of a single core problem that Clause 24 fashions an easy scapegoat for instead of resolving: The population growth of London is exceeding its increase in housing supply. Only when this fundamental issue of demand and supply is resolved will the aforementioned obstacles to purchasing (or renting) a home in the capital be mitigated. Stabbing buy-to-let landlords in the back with discriminatory tax-changes is therefore not the solution. It shall serve only as the cause of an even more serious, national housing crisis: a crisis which Cherie Blair’s intervention will be instrumental in avoiding.

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Appalled Landlord

17:28 PM, 9th February 2016, About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mark Alexander" at "09/02/2016 - 16:52":

Hi Mark

At 22.46:

It’s very near the end of the written version:


19:18 PM, 9th February 2016, About 8 years ago

Excellent letter Gareth and some great comments by others on this thread.

I hope the Times will publish your rebuttal.

Appalled Landlord

12:32 PM, 10th February 2016, About 8 years ago

Claire Foges also wrote “But it is hopeless to argue that buy-to-let investors — and their preference for one or two-bed properties — have not distorted the market and squeezed out first-time buyers.” She offers no evidence, but claims her opinion is incontrovertible. She wants to make us the scapegoat for the chronic under-supply of new housing.

In fact, BTL landlords have increased the supply of 1 and 2-bedroom properties, by financing thousands of new-build flats, throughout the country.

According to :
Claire Foges “is also hoping to set up a programme called Stand and Deliver, to teach debating in state schools."

It will be a waste of public money if her idea of debating is simply asserting that “it is hopeless to argue” against her opinion.

Paul Temple

12:59 PM, 10th February 2016, About 8 years ago

I did see the letter and responded in the comments section of the article online; interestingly, nearly all the comments were in favour of what she said which is now raising questions in my mind as to why I’m reading The Times…

Slightly off-topic but related to the wider issues – Alice keep saying that all these measures are aimed at getting more people to be able to buy their own properties. Laudable in some senses (albeit misconceived in its execution) but wholly at odds with another part of the government’s policy which is promoting Build To Rent!

I found an article today ( which has wonderful quotes from corporates who are moving into that area expounding the joy and beauty of the new developments they’re going to provide to their tenants (concierge service, gyms and public spaces instead of penthouse flats etc). All sounds wonderful but makes no mention of how much the tenant is going to have to pay for all of this…

Complete shambles.

Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118

14:45 PM, 10th February 2016, About 8 years ago

I hope her vanity leads to her Googling herself in the next few days. She will find this article on page one of the search results, just above a link to her article in The Times!

Sunita Rickman

15:38 PM, 10th February 2016, About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Annie Landlord" at "09/02/2016 - 13:14":

Good Job Gareth,

and all valid comments Annie.

However, There is one of your points that I would disagree with, i.e.

" ex rental properties stand empty because there are insufficient buyers"

I believe that all good quality ex-rental properties, that were previously owned by private landlords will be snapped up (under market value) by incorporated landlords, foreign consortiums (I know of a few cases of Chinese consortiums in the area where I have my properties), and also building societies such as Paragon who have now branched out and have a letting and property management division - So once they foreclose on properties, they'll continue to let them out them-selves rather than put them back on the market.

In the end the Government will not get anywhere near the extra tax revenue they predict - But a great-deal of heartache and distress will be caused to both Landlords & Tenants alike.

Currently I have an advert out for one of my properties (which are all HMO) and I am already seeing more & more requests from tenants who have been given notice as their properties are to be sold.
(No guarantee what-so-ever that these properties are being purchased by home-buyers - but highly likely (due to the area) they will be purchased by other types of Landlords.

John Gell

16:52 PM, 10th February 2016, About 8 years ago

Many of our tenants are affluent professionals on short-term employment contracts or on transient career paths who absolutely have no wish to be property owners at this stage in their careers. They are in Inverness for a year or two or three and then their career path takes them elsewhere. They don't want to buy, but they do want, and can afford, well presented and well managed rented property.

If the suppliers of such properties (and most of our client landlords are working individuals who have invested in one or two properties) consider that the reduced returns resulting from the Chancellor's tinkering no longer justify the inputs and risk and so pull out, those homes are more likely to leave the renting market than to be acquired by other landlords. What then for those tenants? And this at a time when the Scottish Government is seeking to expand the private rented sector in recognition of acute housing shortage.

Flexibility of housing options is critical for labour mobility and, in turn, for a vibrant economy. Are the Chancellor, his advisors and Miss Foges so blinkered that they cannot see that? I can only assume so, or should I listen to the cynic in me who says it's all about votes and playing politics?

Annie Landlord

16:57 PM, 10th February 2016, About 8 years ago

Hi Sunita,
good point. The house I have just sold went to a FTB, but someone who was living with parents. So a rented house has gone into owner occupancy and no rental property has been released as a result. I, too, am hearing of major overseas consortia hell bent on buying up property. Whether they will retain existing tenants, or indeed any tenants, or just evict and landbank until values rise is anyone's guess. I can foresee a ridiculous merry-go-round, where some PRS properties go into owner occupancy, some SRS tenants earning over £30K move from social housing into the PRS and housing associations/trusts are left with all the tenants in receipt of housing benefit. This could possibly work, except for the fact that a number of housing associations/trusts have declared they will be unable to offer properties to people in receipt of housing benefit, due to government-imposed rent caps, universal credit and the payment of UC directly to the tenant.
What we need, rather than a continuous stream of stand-alone, ill conceived, poorly researched, knee jerk policy change, is a coherent strategy to confront the absolute mess that is 'Housing UK'. Real consultation, bringing together social and private landlords, social and private tenants and current and aspiring owner occupiers, to share experience and ambition would be infinitely more productive than the media-fuelled polarisation that characterises current debate.Maybe Property 118 could facilitate the consultation!


18:07 PM, 10th February 2016, About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mandy Thomson" at "09/02/2016 - 16:46":

"Since leaving she has been asked to speak on television but turned it down. “I said no because I can’t be arsed with my physical appearance being scrutinised." As in head up...!


18:12 PM, 10th February 2016, About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Annie Landlord" at "10/02/2016 - 16:57":

I've just sold a 2-bed flat in London, and it went to a retired couple who had sold their family home (just around the corner from me) and bought a place in the country, but wanted a London pad.

So much for FTBs benefiting from landlords selling up!

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