To those clamouring for a populist government built on economic nationalism, deceit and anger as the answer to our current political mess, my experience from living abroad suggests you should be very careful what you wish for. Four years ago, we moved back to the UK after living in Argentina. I felt the UK was a better place to build a life for my family despite knowing what a wrench it would be for them to move. Looking at the state of politics in the UK now, it feels like life has gone full circle. There are worrying parallels between the hard left Argentine government of that time and the attitude of politicians in this country now, at both ends of the political spectrum. The first thing they all have in common is the dismissive and even hostile attitude to business combined with an economic illiteracy. Argentina, when we arrived, had been ruined by a decade of leftish populism. Inflation was running at 30 per cent and the country was an economic pariah having been shut out of … [Read more...] about ‘While I lived in Argentina, I saw what a decade of populism did. Now I’m watching Britain go the same way’
What country do i live in
It is a warm, sunny Saturday lunchtime in the centre of Bristol. Somewhere else in the country a royal wedding is about to take place, but here a group of two dozen demonstrators in red T-shirts are heading into TSB, armed with a list of demands. “Private renting isn’t fun,” they sing, “when you’re paying for a slum. Stop it happening to you, better join the Acorn crew. Housing is a human right, won’t give up without a fight”. The organisation behind the good-natured protest is a trade union for renters called Acorn, first set up in Bristol four years ago. Since then, as frustration and anger about the housing market – and particularly the conditions for private renters – has grown, the group has gradually spread around the country, with branches springing up in cities including Brighton and Sheffield. Anny Cullum, an activist and NHS administrator, says that until she got involved in Acorn, “there didn’t seem to be … [Read more...] about Do you live in shoddy housing that costs a fortune? Time to join the renters’ union
The journey from London to a remote corner of south-west France takes long enough for the thought to occur, more than once, that it is an unlikely location for a Brexit HQ. The man who hopes to lead us out of Europe lives alone in an extremely handsome country house – not quite a chateau, but several notches up from a maison – deep in rural Gascony. The pristine period chic of its reception rooms is flawlessly French, and unless you study its library shelves, which groan with British political tomes, or use the downstairs loo lined with framed and signed photographs of Downing Street cabinets, you would never guess who lived here. As his former boss once famously observed, it is a funny old world. The impression of improbability is compounded by Nigel Lawson’s expression as he receives me. It is one a courteous but very private gentleman might wear to greet someone who had broken down in his elegant driveway. Nothing about his bearing suggests a man bursting to make … [Read more...] about Nigel Lawson on Brexit: ‘I love Europe! That’s why I live in France. But the EU has no purpose’
This article is available to Members of The Local. Read more about membership here. There are two types of renting in Sweden. Residents usually join a 'queue' for an elusive first-hand contract, which means you can stay long-term in a rent-controlled property. But these queues are long, with Swedes typically waiting several years for an apartment and even longer in the most popular areas, meaning the majority of foreigners rent second-hand. This is the Swedish term for subletting, meaning you rent either from someone with a first-hand contract (known as hyresrätt) or from someone who owns their own property as part of a collective (bostadsrätt). It's helpful to know which of these applies to your landlord, as some of the guidelines below differ depending on whether they own or rent the property they're subletting to you. Never be afraid to assert your rights as a tenant; foreigners are particularly likely to fall prey to scams, as unscrupulous landlords may … [Read more...] about What rights do I have as a second-hand renter in Sweden?
I have been fortunate enough to live in social housing for almost 30 years, and by swapping homes multiple times with other tenants I’ve progressed from a tiny bedsit to a five-bedroom property in Islington with my wife and two children. We took on our current home because it was within walking distance of school and for family reasons, but then our circumstances changed; so we registered on home-swapping websites in order to downsize to a three- or four-bedroom house in the same area, given we are currently being charged for our spare bedrooms which we neither need nor want. You’d imagine there would be thousands of desperate social housing tenants in urgent need of a larger home, and you’d be right. In London alone, over 100,000 families in social housing are classed as being overcrowded; other families are shunted across the country because of the £23,000 cap on housing benefits. According to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, 6.8 per … [Read more...] about I live in a five-bedroom council house which I don’t need, yet I’m not allowed to swap with an overcrowded family