I haven't read this book so can't comment on the author's writing style, but I wanted to point out that your "comprehension of simple economics", as you put it, is fundamentally flawed in this case.
Council housing is not "for free"- tenants pay rent! Unless you are assuming that every tenant is on housing benefits, which is a separate problem. Social housing was not supposed to be for anyone except "hard-working people", as you describe yourself- well, you were the intended tenant! Paying rent, and feeding money back into the pot that pays for ut. It makes total economic sense.
Many large estates or council houses were built up around mining towns and villages, or around factories and mills. Since these have been closed down, there is no longer a reason for people to live there. We now have unemployed and unskilled people living on benefits, which pay better than unskilled jobs, as they get housing benefit. It's madness- and it's also madness that house prices are so ridiculously inflated, even on an above-average wage you or I could not afford to buy property without either help (inheritance; parental hand-outs/loans) or a massive mortgage- a terrfiying amount of debt to get into.
The answer should be more social housing for all hard-working people, and more jobs so that people are not trapped in the JSA/ housing benefits/ social housing triangle.