Homes for All Statement: New government housing policies face both ways

23 July 2022

A raft of new government housing policies are facing two different ways: towards greater marketisation, and towards better rights and protections for tenants. There will be some important struggles as to which of these tendencies will win out.

First, the bad news

The proposals in Boris Johnson’s housing speech of 9 June proposals (right to buy for housing association tenants, and conversion of rent to mortgage for those on state benefit) are a cynical reversion to the rhetoric of marketisation.

They offer nothing at all to address the housing needs of the poorest, for whom a right to buy extension would make things much worse.

There are plenty of practical difficulties with the proposals. A government enacted right to buy of private property is legally and practically problematic. The right to buy extension is backed by a promise of Treasury funding, but it would be expensive. There is a promise of 100% like for like replacement, even though there was a pilot for the scheme which showed that only half of the homes were replaced, and the replacements were more expensive and inferior in standard to the ones that were sold. Replacement promises for local government right to buy have always been broken.

Many housing association finance managers might welcome right to buy, as they would lose social rent stock and most likely receive cash in compensation with little effective control over how it is spent. Local authority right to buy (introduced in 1980) began a massive shrinkage of the social housing stock, and this new policy means that the government would consider extending the shrinkage all over again. The government promises a tight restriction on the number of homes to be sold, and a national waiting list to buy, but the option for shrinkage is very much there. 

In the parliamentary debate on social housing (which was also held on 9 June) and in media responses and interviews the Labour party did not oppose the Tories’ proposals in principle, and nor did they mention Johnson. They made some good criticisms of the detail, but there was much that remained unsaid. There was no criticism of the influence of property developers over housing policy, the oversupply of unaffordable housing, the Shelter report ‘Building for our future: A vision for social housing’ which shows that a mass social rent housebuilding programme would pay for itself in benefit savings and savings in the other costs of social exclusion.

There is a tendency to call for more social rent housing, but without the specified numbers and the funding that would define an effective policy (100,000 new council homes a year, and £10 billion a year in grant funding), ‘more social rent housing’ is meaningless. 

The Labour leadership clearly believe that they cannot be seen to oppose any proposals that are packaged as home ownership, and they are reluctant to oppose right to buy in any form. They are not prepared to speak the worth and value of council housing or social rent housing, as an alternative to the present policy of excessive government financial support for ownership. They are ignoring the excellent motion passed at last year’s party conference to support the contents of the 2019 election manifesto on housing, including 100,000 new council homes a year, and abolishing the right to buy.

Shadow Secretary of State Lisa Nandy went further on 2 May when Johnson first broached the new plans for extended right to buy, tweeting ‘Every family deserves the security of owning their own home. This won’t deliver that. Labour will.’

The proposed conversion of rent to mortgage for those on state benefit is restricted to those in work and claiming housing benefits. It is not at all clear how this might work. But it is potentially an even more dangerous policy than the right to buy extension. It is reminiscent of mass privatisations elsewhere in the world, where public sector homes were simply given away to tenants, without proper concern for sustainability. The government is not in a position to do anything rapidly on that scale, but they are carrying out a full-scale review of the mortgage market to find ways to make it easier for younger people to buy. Of course that is fine, if it was to be done without losing the social rent homes, but instead the review seems to be linked to the right to buy extension and the housing benefit to mortgage schemes.

And now, the better news

On 16 June, we had the opposite face of  government policy, with the publication of the white paper on their proposed renters reform bill. This promises the abolition of Section 21 ‘no fault’ eviction notices, and the extension of the Decent Homes Standard to the private rented sector. This is a major reform project, changing decades of policies by successive governments which have moved away from security of tenure, and have left the private rented sector without any proper regulation. As if that is not enough, there is also a benefit for social rent tenants, again undoing decades  of policy creep: ‘probationary, fixed-term and demoted social tenancies are now set to be abolished on the grounds that there should be parity between sectors’. 

These reforms of the  private rented sector could be partly nullified without rent control. So the case for rent control is being opened up here. The proposed reforms show that protest works, and that the power of property ownership and the agenda of reducing tenants’ rights can all be challenged. These two government policies are in total contradiction with one another. It is possible that the private renters reforms could be stopped by an internal revolt within the Conservative Party. It is worrying that the battle seems to be conducted mostly covertly and within the Conservative Party. By not opposing any policy badged as ownership, however damaging it may be, Labour would put itself on the wrong side of this debate. It may be argued that the housing crisis with its continued rise of private renting (insecure, low quality, and poor value for money) is tending to create an increasingly coherent voting base for the Labour Party. Hence the Tories, who would like to see private rent as the working class tenure of the future for those who cannot afford owner occupation, have strong incentives to carry through some serious, but necessarily limited reforms to the sector.

Tenants, residents and housing campaigners must campaign and struggle for a consistent policy to build (or buy) new environmentally sustainable council housing, to restrict developer influence and restrict excessive market housebuilding, while controlling rents and improving residents’ rights across all tenures. The contradictions of the  new government policies show that such a campaign could win the day.

Here is Lisa Nandy’s tweet:

See Jules Birch, ‘Can the government deliver on fairer rent?’, Inside Housing 17 June: https://www.insidehousing.co.uk/comment/can-the-government-deliver-on-fairer-rent  (behind paywall – but you can copy the article title into a search engine to read it).

Hansard report of the House of Commons debate on 9 June:

https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2022-06-09/debates/3AC0E458-8C3F-4846-84AC-17F7BD03CB20/SocialHousingAndBuildingSafety

The White Paper, ‘a fairer private rented sector’: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1083378/A_fairer_private_rented_sector_web_accessible.pdf

Thanks to Paul Burnham, Haringey DCH

Join Homes for All and the housing bloc at the TUC demonstration on 18 June

We want to make sure housing is a headline issue on the TUC’s demonstration on 18 June. The protest “We demand better” is focused on demands around workers wages, rights and benefits. The TUC’s demands are:

  • A real pay rise for every worker – and a real living wage for all
  • Respect and security for all workers – ban zero hours contracts, ban fire and rehire, decent sick pay now
  • End racism at work
  • Tax energy profits to pay our bills
  • Raise universal credit
  • Boost union bargaining rights now

People in private rented accommodation will be especially hard hit by the rising cost of living, but people living in council housing and leaseholders are also finding it difficult to make ends meet. As the government continues to make working class people pay for the economic crisis, we demand housing justice!

We are grateful for the support of UNITE Community, SHAC, Streets Kitchen, National Pensioners Convention, Defend Council Housing, Grenfell Community Campaigners, Campaign Against Empty Homes, Disabled People Against Cuts and others. We look forward to meeting up with everyone in these campaigns to form a housing bloc on the TUC demonstration. We will be helping the Campaign Against Empty Homes to distribute leaflets on the demo too.

Join us at 11am on 18 June at Portland Place to demand

  • Secure & Safe Housing for All
  • Rent & Service Charge Controls
  • Requisition Empty Homes
  • Justice for Grenfell

See TUC Demo details : https://www.tuc.org.uk/DemandBetter

Homes for All Summit 2022 Calls for Radical Change in Housing

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 speeches from the plenaries can also be viewed on Facebook here: https://fb.watch/bIpwd1JZ6K/

Homes for All National Summit, Saturday 12 march 2022

Updated timetable below

Join our online conference to plan campaigns in 2022 for genuinely affordable, secure and safe housing.

Saturday, 12 March, 2022, 11:00 – 15:00

Register:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/homes-for-all-national-summit-2022-tickets-240834712107

But if we work together we can fight this.

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.

Speakers include

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…

REGISTER and find out more: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/homes-for-all-national-summit-2022-tickets-240834712107

Contact Details:

Email: info@axethehousingact.org.uk

https://www.facebook.com/Homes4AllUK

Twitter: https://twitter.com/homes4alluk

London – Events: November and December 2021

Please see details of forthcoming events in London below – if you are able to attend please take along your banner & join us on the day.

March to Southwark Council’s Assembly
Wednesday 24 November 2021

Assemble: 6pm at Vauban Carpark, Alscot Road, Opposite Spa Gardens SE1 3GG (Bus 1 and 78)
March to Tooley Street for a rally outside Council Assembly: 6:30pm @160 Tooley Street, SE1 2QH

UK Housing Awards protest on 25th November organised by SHAC:
https://mcusercontent.com/3f882bdb367efbad599b88418/images/a4cd909b-fc95-2052-f3d8-1b85f71105dd.jpg

National Pensioners Convention protest over increased Winter Deaths due to Home Fuel price rises. Friday 26th November at 12 noon:
https://mcusercontent.com/3f882bdb367efbad599b88418/files/1d5eb3bf-ef2f-ba39-f403-ed360a6c3f06/2021_Oct_NPC_Cold_weather_deaths_protest_1_.pdf

Tuesday 7th December, 2021 7pmACTION FOR FIRE SAFETY JUSTICE UPDATE: HOW WE BEAT BELLWAY & HOW TO KEEP GOING? 
Join us as we share the campaigning tactics that forced Bellway to pay full remediation costs for our blocks. Hear from six Fire Safety Justice campaigners and join us in an open discussion as we reflect on successes and challenges in 2021 and decide together, where do we go from here?

https://www.facebook.com/events/1298495370653981


Grenfell United – Silent March on 14th December, Assemble 6pm Kensington Town Hall. More details to follow.

Reports, Photo’s & Streams from Saturday’s Campaign Against Empty Homes

Southend: A Great day action on empty homes in Southend National day of action by Action on Empty Homes & Homes for all .The Southend action organised By Essex Unite Community Branch .Attended by Essex Unite community, Acorn renters Union,Harlow And District trade Union Council. Basildon & Thurock Trades Union Council ,Southend Trades Union Council. CWU Rep. Southend Labour Party Members. 100s Signed petition to Southend Esasr/West MPs to End Homelessness & Build Council Homes.


Islington: On Saturday, six Islington Councillors, together with Islington residents and activists from Islington Homes for All, Islington Housing Action, Action on Empty Homes and Street Storage (for homeless people) gathered outside the 28 empty ex-warders’ flats belonging to the Ministry of Justice behind Pentonville Prison, left empty for years.  They were protesting against the continued refusal by the Ministry of Justice to honour the agreement made in 2019 with Islington Council for the flats to be leased to house homeless and overcrowded families in a borough with over 14,000 households on the housing waiting list.
Councillor Diarmaid Ward, Islington Council’s Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Housing emphasised the borough’s urgent need for these family-sized flats in the context of the present government clear disregard for people’s welfare in its pursuit to make money.

South London: Southwark, Aylesbury Estate. Up to 30 people protested at the Aylesbury Estate where the regeneration means the demolition of over 2,000 council homes. Over 600 council homes stand empty, waiting to be demolished. Southwark Council has been putting temporary tenants in these empty homes, and is subsidising developer Notting Hill Genesis to provide council homes in replacement of those that are demolished. We demand that NHG is removed and the estate is refurbished.

Westminster – Waiting for Report

E17 Against Evictions (Walthamstow) – Waiting for Report

Fire Safety Crisis – National Day of Action

View image on Twitter

Go to fb link

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 30, 2021 AT 11 AM

Event by Action for Fire Safety Justice A sales office or city hall near you!

Public  · Anyone on or off Facebook

Join us for our next national day of local protests, to demand that the Government make Developers pay to fix the Fire Safety Crisis!Leaseholders and tenants are trapped in unsafe homes, facing bankruptcy and eviction because our homes weren’t built to be safe.

Meanwhile, developers get off scot free and continue to make huge profits.Join us as we fight for our rights and demand change. Bring your friends, family and neighbours and let’s make a noise!

Saturday 30 October 2021, 11:30am – 12:30pm Building Safety Crisis Day of Action
Online Rally
https://www.facebook.com/events/680536556257607   We demand that the Government makes Developers pay! The costs to fix fire safety issues should not fall on tenants or leaseholders. Join Action for Fire Safety Justice and supporters for a rally featuring outside broadcasts from protests as part of the national day of action.

Speakers include:

  • Chloe Waite, Action for Fire Safety Justice
  • Tanya Murat, Homes For All
  • Karim Mussilhy, Grenfell United
  • Wilf Sullivan, TUC
  • Jenni Garratt, End Our Cladding Scandal
  • Chair, Moyra Samuels, Grenfell Campaigner

Protests to be featured at the online rally include:

⁕ London City Hall
⁕ Abbey Quays Barking
⁕ Upton Park
⁕ Ipswich Waterfront
⁕ Milton Keynes
⁕ Bristol City Hall
⁕ Strasbourg European Court of Human Rights  

Details of all the above in-person protests:
https://buildingsafetycrisis.org/protests/

Action for Fire Safety Justice:
https://www.facebook.com/FireSafetyJustice  

This rally will be live on Facebook and YouTube

#BuildingSafetyCrisis
#JusticeForGrenfell
#MakeDevelopersPay

Campaign Against Empty Homes day of action – Sat 9th October LATEST

 Hosted by Will McMahon Action on Empty Homes & Morag Gillie Homes for All 

Hi Everyone!

Huge thanks to everyone for getting involved & making Saturday 9 October a day of action and of support in demanding that empty homes are brought back into use.

Campaign Against Empty Homes (CAEH) has received widespread support as shown by the fantastic line up of speakers & groups taking action in their local areas.

So please join the Campaign Against Empty Homes Day of Action – Online rally with national speakers (if you’re out on the streets you will be able to watch later).

Saturday 9th October 11am – 12 noon – join the rally here:

Campaign Against Empty Homes (CAEH)

YouTube 👉https://youtu.be/JpnSAtEDZS4

Home4AllUK

Facebook 👉  https://www.facebook.com/Homes4AllUK/

YouTube 👉 http://youtube.com/channel/UCMh2QRvMoz2w3hX3Tmaka-A/live

Action On Empty Homes

Facebook 👉 facebook.com/emptyhomes/live

YouTube 👉 youtube.com/channel/UCNstxuO_ipgxuL5DC3-O-Cw/live

Live Streams from:

  1. Southwark: Campaign Against Empty Homes: Repopulate the Aylesbury Estate! Fill Empty Council Homes, 10:45am, Saturday 9th October, Outside Thurlow Lodge, 1 Thurlow Street, SE17 2US Facebook event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/405314640978545/
  2. Islington Homes for All Empty Homes Day of Action at Pentonville Prison. Saturday 9th October. Meet at the Breakout Café on Caledonian Road at 10:45 to go to Pentonville Prison Empty Flats on Roman Way for 11am. Twitter: https://twitter.com/home
  3. Radical Housing Network/Action on Empty Homes Westminster, Millbank Tower, Meet at: Millbank Tower, 21-24 Millbank, London SW1P 4QP. Meet at 11am – 12pm on Sat 9th October 2021 here: https://fb.me/e/1Gnrtr8TS
  4. The Fossets for the People Empty home Re Wrong Housing and planning. Organised By firstly By Essex Unite Community Branch. Supported By Harlow And District Trades Council. Southend. Meet: Southend High Street under the Railway Bridge close to Greggs.
  5. Hammersmith Kensington Fulham and Chelsea Housing Action Group. Meet at 1 Kensington Rd, W8 5NX at 10.45 am. Protest outside the under-occupied luxury flats, formally the De Vere Hotel. https://www.facebook.com/events/181023150818138/
  6. E17 Against Evictions (Walthamstow) Meet at 16-18 Orford Road, E17 9LN at 11am to 1pm. Protest outside two long-term empty homes owed by Waltham Forest council.

Please do all you can to share these links and if you can’t make it to the Rally, please download a poster and do a selfie we can show on the day.

Please send selfies to Will at Action on Empty Homes – 07968 950223 – Will.McMahon@emptyhomes.com Morag Gillie at Homes for All – morag.gillie@sky.com

Homes for All Meeting Sat 2nd October

Homes 4 All General Meeting (11am) FOLLOWED BY Campaign Against Empty Homes meeting (12:30pm)
Same Zoom login for both meetings

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87307801672

Meeting ID: 873 0780 1672

Agenda for HfA Meeting
1. Update on CAEH
2. Report backs from:
3. LP Conference 
4. Cladding Day of Action
5. Grenfell
6. AOB
Agenda for CAEH
1. Planning local actions and Broadcasts
2. Distribution of the leaflet and final poster
3. Using social media to generate support for the day
4. Final sponsors for the Day of Action
5. Rally speakers and timings.
5.AOB 

Please check websites for regular updates
https://www.actiononemptyhomes.org/news/campaign
http://www.axethehousingact.org.uk/

Campaign Against Empty Homes day of action – Sat 9th October

October 9th 2021, 11am Day of Action – We are in a climate, health and housing emergency!

We have decided to bring together all the organisations that took part in our first successful Day of Action in April 2021 and draw more local and national organisations into a national coalition called ‘Campaign Against Empty Homes’. Whether it is a local community group or a national organisation, we want everyone on board for 9 October, who wants empty homes to be brought back into use.

Unite have kindly donated some money so we can produce publicity and get the message out. We have lots of leaflets you can use to promote the day of action., and you can give out the same leaflets on the day of action itself. Scroll down to see a pdf of the leaflet. Our main partners, Action on Empty Homes are working hard with us to plan for the day. We will be doing a press launch very soon.

We will be having an online rally on YouTube and Facebook on 9th October, just like we did on 17th April, and we are inviting you to live stream your local protest into the rally.

We are calling the 9th October Day of Action for four reasons:

1) Over 100,000 families are living in Temporary Accommodation while over half a million homes have no permanent resident.

2) The wrong kind of housing is being built across the country – they are unaffordable to anyone on an average income to either rent or buy. These new builds are also being sold off-plan and ending up as Airbnb short lets, second homes or buy to leave empty wealth investments with no permanent residents.

3) Communities are being broken up as council estates that could be refurbished are being left to decline, to be replaced by yet more unaffordable new build.

4) The Climate emergency demands refurbishment, not demolition. Retrofitting 270,000 long term empty homes and council estates can help solve the climate crisis.

We will hold street actions highlighting all of these issues and hold a national rally calling for empty homes to be used by those living in temporary and overcrowded accommodation and to meet the climate emergency.

The Day of Action is also to raise public awareness of the rising number of long-term empty homes and homes without a permanent resident in England. Government and market data show there are around:

*270,000 long-term empty homes
*260,000 second-homes with no permanent resident
*120,000 Airbnb type short-lets (London Councils estimate there are over 70,000 short-lets in London alone)
We also want a national register of landlords and beneficial owners and much tighter regulation of Airbnb.

If you want to call a street protest to be part of the day of action on 9th October, please let us know. We can live stream your protest into an online rally.

Local street protests will be POSTED HERE

  1. Southwark: Campaign Against Empty Homes: Repopulate the Aylesbury Estate! Fill Empty Council Homes, 10:45am, Saturday 9th October, Outside Thurlow Lodge, 1 Thurlow Street, SE17 2US Facebook event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/405314640978545/

2. Empty Homes Day of Action at Pentonville Prison. Islington Homes for All – Saturday 9th October 
Meet at the Breakout Café on Caledonian Road at 10:45 to go to Pentonville Prison Empty Flats on Roman Way for 11am. Twitter: https://twitter.com/home

3.

Everything you need to plan a street protest and live stream it is here

https://www.actiononemptyhomes.org/News/day-of-action-october-9th

If you are a TRADE UNIONIST or part of another campaign and would like to propose support in your organisation, please use this MODEL RESOLUTION

Stream links:

Home4AllUK

Facebook 👉 facebook.com/Homes4AllUK/live

YouTube 👉 youtube.com/channel/UCMh2QRvMoz2w3hX3Tmaka-A/live

Action On Empty Homes

Facebook 👉 facebook.com/emptyhomes/live

YouTube 👉 youtube.com/channel/UCNstxuO_ipgxuL5DC3-O-Cw/live