We all need a place to live, but in London - and now much of the UK - housing is a financial asset rather than a basic right. Who is this city for?
Drawing on original research and bringing us the individual stories of those whose lives are ruled by the housing crisis, Anna Minton cuts through the complexities and jargon to give a compelling, clear-sighted account of what has led to this predicament, and how we might get out of it.
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The audio rights are handled by Alice Lutyens.
Claire Nozieres manages the translation rights for Big Capital
Fierce, incisive, important. Anyone who lives or works in a building should read this book.Will Self
Minton has done us a serviceSunday Times
Her superb reportage shinesIndependent
Anna Minton is a brilliant journalistDaily Telegraph
Anna Minton goes digging into the housing crisis in London and beyond. She gives us an account that indicates the crisis was made through decisions and wilful distortions about the consequences of those decisions. Very few of the actors are left standing in her analysis which reads like a sort of murder mystery fully exposed.Saskia Sassen
The merits of Big Capital are hard to ignore. It’s a studied, sustained attack on a market that has been mishandled by successive governments for 40 years, not because politicians have been unable to remedy it but because it has been expedient not to. It makes for painful — yet compelling — reading.
A sobering picture of the plight of those priced out of owning, or stretched to even meet the rent on a cramped flat.
Minton is a diligent and determined reporter and this is a lucid account of how Bevan’s vision of a “lively tapestry of mixed communities” gave way to a process of “state-led gentrification”. In one of the most eye-opening sections, she inveigles her way into the London Real Estate Forum in Berkeley Square, where councillors from various local authorities project gleaming CGI images of the fake London they want to build to overseas investors . . . This is rather a depressing account in its complexity but it is also clear-sighted in its solutions. Minton builds a powerful case for a land value tax, always intended as part of the planning system to prevent the idle rich from exploiting the rest of us. But really it is a call to imagine what is politically possible.
Big Capital is a powerfully written account with plenty of case studies and it’s hard not to come away with a fresh sense of outrage. Minton also makes some interesting suggestions about how to address the problem, such as new taxes, or the idea of social housing co-operatives.
The facts of this human catastrophe can’t be stated too much or too strongly. The first achievement of Anna Minton’s book Big Capital is to do just that. She states the basic case clearly and demonstrates it by talking to the dislocated and struggling people most affected. She sets out the factors – not regrettable side-effects of the inevitable workings of the free market, nor sad-but-necessary consequences of London’s runaway success – but deliberate decisions by government going back to the 1980s. She anatomises the devices that enable developers to wriggle out of their obligations to assist with affordable housing and the pressures applied on local authorities to maximise returns on their property at all costs, even when it is not in the best interests of their electorate to do so. In its fundamental instincts Big Capital is right. The current state of London housing is an affront to civilisation. It is going to require creative and determined public action, not blind faith in the market, to change it.