Ongoing campaign to force Ministry of Justice to sell 28 empty flats as originally planned to Islington Council for families in housing need.
Islington Homes for All staged a protest on 14 May at Pentonville Prison. 28 flats have stood empty for years and the Ministry of Justice has reneged on its promise to sell them to Islington Council, choosing instead to make a deal with a developer who will pay more money and doubtless make them into luxury flats, rather than the council homes so desperately needed.
Islington Homes for All is part of a national Campaign Against Empty Homes which has mobilised housing campaigners and local residents to highlight the scandal of thousands of empty homes across the UK. At the same time thousands of people are forced to live in unaffordable, insecure and temporary accommodation.
Since Islington Council have declined the developers’ planning application Islington Homes for All are fighting for the MoJ to return to their original agreement and hand the 3 and 4 bedroom flats back to Islington Council.
You can help the campaign by signing and sharing the Change.org petition and by helping to build the next Campaign Against Empty Homes Day of Action in your area in October 2022 (Date to be confirmed)
Five years after the Grenfell fire and we are no closer to a comprehensive solution to guarantee fire safety to all residents in affected blocks. And it still seems unclear exactly who will be funding remediation in many cases. This is despite the pledge developers have made to fund repairs in buildings over 11m high. This pledge is a product of the campaigning pressure of the Grenfell impacted community, leaseholder campaigns such as UK Cladding Action Group and Action for Fire Safety Justice and trade unions, particularly FBU. Homes for All has been proud to support them over the years. It’s no accident that this pledge comes just days before campaigners are due to protest again.
But whatever the Government says, and whatever Secretary of State for so-called levelling up Michael Gove wants people to believe, this pledge, and the proposed Building Safety Bill is yet another piecemeal solution for some people, at best. UKCAG explains what’s happening here. Bankruptcies and years of living in unsafe housing are set to continue for many.
This is why everyone needs to support the protest on Wednesday 20 April at 1pm in Westminster. It seems likely that following months of talks and lobbying with MPs and government ministers, the movement will have to return to the streets in a major way. This is needed to force the government to legislate to protect all leaseholders from costs and make all buildings safe. As Action for Fire Safety Justice has proved, a developer can be forced to take full responsibility for remediation if the campaign to make them do so is active enough and visible enough. We stand in solidarity with all those fighting back.
The Campaign Against Empty Homes Local Election Manifesto calls for Local Authorities to take action!
There are over 100,000 families living in Temporary Accommodation whilst over half a million homes lie empty as so-called ‘second homes’, Airbnb-type short lets, or simply have no permanent residents.
Meanwhile, the wrong type of housing is being built nationwide. Unaffordable to anyone on an average income to either rent or buy, from city centre towers to car-dependent suburbs, many of these newbuilds are sold to global investors via off-plan schemes, ending up as so-called ‘Buy to Leave’ wealth investments or Airbnbs and second homes, with no permanent residents.
Communities are being broken up as council estates that could be refurbished are being left to decline with many homes empty, only to be replaced by yet more unaffordable new builds, often financialised by private developers.
Campaign Against Empty Homes is organising a “Digital Day of Action” on Monday 25 April, 2022
Supporters of the campaign group will forward the manifesto to their council candidates and seek support. If you would like to take part in the Digital Day of Action and let the media know please download this press release.
25th April Digital Day of Action calls for candidates to end the empty homes scandal
Campaign calls for candidates to combat empty homes and stop developers building ‘The Wrong Housing’
As local elections approach the Campaign Against Empty Homes coalitioni which unites housing campaigners across political parties, homelessness and tenant organisations and trade unions call on supporters to seek local election candidate commitments to address the housing crisis.
25 April ‘Digital Day of Action’ will see supporters contact candidates to call for support of a Manifesto of demands that centre on growing numbers of empty homes and action to combat housing policy which leads to tens of thousands of new homes being sucked out of residential use as second homes and Airbnbs, as affordable options for those on average incomes decline to zero across the country.
Coalition members call on supporters and members of the public to ask local election candidates to directly address the housing crisis and support action to end the waste of hundreds of thousands of empty homes.
Long-term empty homes numbers have risen to nearly a quarter of a million and stand 20% higher than 5 years ago despite an intensifying housing crisisii.
Numbers of families in Temporary Accommodation continue to rise with 100,000iii placed in Temporary Accommodation by councils, increasing numbers housed in unsuitable accommodation distant from families and local support networks.
The Manifesto calls on candidates to support:
Funding local council work to bring empty homes back into use for those who need genuinely affordable, decent and permanent homes to live in.
Campaigning for national government action through investment and stronger powers to bring wasted homes back into use
Greater regulation of Airbnb to stop low-cost housing being sucked out of residential use.
Vacancy Taxes on homes not in residential use, to discourage second home purchases.
Local and national registers of residential property ownership and use.
Retrofit First model for social housing to prevent demolitions and help tackle the climate crisis.
Fair redevelopment to prioritise low-cost homes and council houses to meet demand – not corporate developments that break up local communities.
Will McMahon, Director of Action on Empty Homes, said “We support the Campaign Against Empty Homes Day of Action because it is time we had a frank conversation about vacancy levels. Over half a million homes are out of residential use long-term in England. Without change these homes won’t house anyone any time soon. We need to stop pretending that a quarter of a million second homes in England are really homes at all. We need to get wasted empty homes back into use for those 100,000 families who desperately need them. We must also stop building the wrong housing to end the housing crisis and instead force developers to address the falling numbers of social and genuinely affordable homes available to those in desperate housing need.”
Tanya Murat, Homes for All, said “We think the empty homes scandal should be a major election issue. No political party should be able to sweep this under the carpet any longer. There are over half a million empty or underused homes in the UK whilst every day developers continue building housing for profit not for people. Local government should play a role in challenging that – making sure every empty home is filled with people who need housing.”
Notes to Editors:
The Campaign Against Empty Homesis a cross-party coalition calling for action and involving community organisations, trade unions and homelessness projects, as well as members of many different political parties – it calls for everyone concerned about the intensifying housing crisis across the country will call on local politicians to adopt the policies in its Manifesto for the upcoming local elections.
List of Campaign Coalition, supporters: Action on Empty Homes, The Big Issue, Disabled People
Against Cuts, Fuel Poverty Action, The Green Party, Homes for All, Labour Homelessness Campaign,
Renters’ Rights London, Peace & Justice Project, People Before Profit, Radical Housing Network, Social Housing Action Campaign, Southwark Defend Council Housing, Streets Kitchen, Street Storage, Unite the Union London and Eastern Region, Unite Community London and Eastern Region, Yes to Fair Development.
Over 200 people registered for the summit on 12 March which heard from campaigners for tenants rights in planning, fire safety, fuel poverty and empty homes. Jeremy Corbyn MP closed the summit with a message of thanks for the organisers.
Campaigners pledged to fight for radical change to enable people to get the housing they need and be in control of their housing and local environment, rather than at the mercy of unaccountable landlords and property developers. They plan to meet again on 2nd April to take forward the action points from the workshops.
In the Housing, Poverty and Energy Futures workshop the participants backed refurbishment instead of demolition and called for an end to fossil fuel subsidies with insulation and energy for all.
Action points from the Planning / Development workshop included supporting local campaigns fighting over planning and development and campaigning on community control of planning and inclusive regeneration.
The Empty Homes workshop agreed to support further action on empty homes, including coming together for a strategy meeting. People who would like to take part in empty homes actions are welcome to attend the Campaign Against Empty Homes planning meeting on 2nd April at 12:30pm.
The Grenfell and Fire Safety Action workshop pledged to support the Grenfell impacted community in calling for prosecutions of those responsible for the fire in the building industry and politicians. They agreed to continue with solidarity action with residents in unsafe buildings, including support for further action by cladding campaigners and Action for Fire Safety Justice around the Building Safety Bill currently going through parliament.
Campaigners in the Council Housing, Housing Associations, supply, rents and service charges workshop thought that it was important to “continue working together to build a programme which has specific demands, create a peoples inquiry into housing, a future event on fighting back and clarify what we want to do using a trade union type strategy.”
The summit recording has been edited into 4 shorts and these videos can be downloaded here:https://we.tl/t-8nYWH6aegH: Opening Plenary with: Kevin Courtney; Bell Ribeiro-Addy; Emma Dent Coad; Ben Clay; Jennifer Shango Lunch sessions:Jon Richards, Head of Unison local govt, Recorded message from Ken Loach, Film maker + 2 short films by Melissa Herman and Bunny Schendler made with young people and parents from campaigning groups in Westminster. And finally Dr D’Adda an activist from Barcelona Workshop Report backs Closing Plenary with: Kwajo Tweneboa; John McDonnell; Nikki Saunders; Gyekye Tanoh; Joe Delaney; Sian Berry; Jeremy Corbyn
The removal of support measures for those impacted by the pandemic, the spike in living costs, including food and fuel, along with the threat of rent and service charge hikes, all mean the housing crisis is continuing to damage health, livelihoods, families and communities.
The aim of the summit is to build strong networked national housing campaigns for the coming year by bringing together local groups, Trade Unionists, MPs and supporters from around the UK to share information and create coordinated solidarities and strategies.
Workshop-based to generate ideas for how we can come together to fight for the secure, genuinely affordable and council homes that people need.
Jeremy Corbyn MP
John McDonnell MP
Kevin Courtney National Education Union
Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP
Matt Wrack Fire Brigades Union
Kwajo Tweneboa Tenant Activist
Sian Berry AM GLA
and tenant and resident campaigners from across the country…
Grenfell Community Campaigners protest outside Celotex Factory in Hadleigh, Ipswich, in fight for justice for victims, survivors and bereaved.
Celotex executives were complicit in the murder of 72 people, including 18 children, in the fire at Grenfell Fire that broke out four and a half years today
Grenfell Community Campaigners are today at Celotex Factory, causing disruptive protest and demanding justice. Justice means jail time for those who are culpable
Celotex manufactured the highly flammable insulation, which was a primary factor in the atrocious fire at Grenfell Tower
We are the Grenfell Community Campaigners and we are at the Celotex factory in Ipswich this morning on the 4 and a half year anniversary, where Celotex are complicit in the murder of 72 people, of which 18 are children, in the most atrocious fire in Grenfell Tower, North Kensington. We will be here for two hours protesting. Anyone in the Ipswich area who is able to join us, please do so.
Celotex are one of the main culprits of the fire. They produced the foam insulation which was one of the major products which led to the fire spread, the release of toxic gases including hydrogen cyanide and subsequent death of 72 people, including 18 children.
The Public Inquiry into the fire revealed that Celotex rigged fire tests and therefore the fire certification. One of the executives, it was shared in the recent inquiry, said by email that he “didn;t give a f***” that they knew Celotex was highly flammable and toxic, and letting off cyanide fumes.
The Grenfell Community campaigners believe that the time is now to prosecute those responsible for the murder of those who needlessly perished in Grenfell Tower. We want justice.
Justice for the Grenfell community means that those who are responsible for the 72 deaths are charged and spend time in jail, not just fined. There must be jail time, for those that knew the insulation was highly flammable and did nothing about it.
Protest location: Celotex, Lady Lane Industrial Estate, Hadleigh, Ipswich IP7 6BA