Vote for Homes Protest on Downing Street, May 2017

 

A ‘Vote for Homes’ protest marched to Downing Street today.
The noisy protest put housing as a central issue in the coming election. Council, housing association and private renter tenants, trade unions, homeless and community campaigns,  joined to demand action to control rents, build council homes and scrap the Housing and Planning Act 2016, which threatens existing and future tenant rights and homes.

A letter signed by film maker Ken Loach, academic and author Danny Dorling, the Bishops of Stepney, Southwark, Croydon and others, Generation Rent, Demolition Watch London, plus trade unions and many others, was symbolically delivered to 10 Downing Street.

See letter with signatures here:

http://www.axethehousingact.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/AtHA_election2017_openletter_A4.pdf

Launching the ‘Housing at the Crossroads’ election letter earlier, supporters explained why they signed the letter:

Tawanda Nyabango, secretary of the West Ham and Canning Town One Housing Tenants and Residents Association, said:

“We are coming together to fight for our rights. Nurses and teachers facing a 40 per cent rent rise demand, have had their pay capped so their real income is falling.   We want to link up with tenants of other housing associations, and trade unions, to build a bigger housing campaign movement.”

Jelane Stevic, tenants’ campaign St Michael’s Gate Peterborough sent a message:

“Nearly all the people who lived in St Michael’s Gate a year ago have lost their home.  It could be you next.  Past governments have failed us.  That’s why I’m supporting this statement and demanding decent, secure homes and rent control for all.”

Niall Mulholland, of London Cooperative Housing Group, said:

“All parties in this election need to commit to scrap the Housing and Planning Act, and invest massively in social housing.  Housing co-ops are an important part of the housing we need, and need land to develop more.  They do not replace council and housing associations and that’s why we are part of this movement. The Housing Act 2016 is still a threat.”

Judith Amanthis, of Housing Association Residents Action, said:

“Housing associations are being deregulated due to the Housing and Planning Act. They are pushing up rents: Genesis is demanding a 177 per cent rent increase from secure tenants, many pensioners.  The National Housing Federation is just acting as a bosses’ club for housing associations.  The Housing Association Residents Action group wants to help link up HA groups.”

Seb Klier, of Generation Rent, said:

“There are more private renters in the UK than voted for the last Government. Private renting is now a cause of poverty and homelessness. People aren’t moving into it as a lifestyle choice, it’s because there’s no alternative. We want rent controls – not just caps – and security from eviction for private renters.  We also want to see more council housing, and to link our housing campaigns together.  We need an organised, mass private renters movement – it will be a massive force for change if we are organised.”

Suz Muna, Unite Housing Workers

“We need to link housing campaigns to the wider campaigns against austerity.  This election is a clear choice for all of us, as housing workers, tenants and leaseholders.”

John Grier, Leeds Hands off our Homes, said:

“I remember when I first saw the film ‘Cathy come Home’ and it made me cry.  We are going back to those days.  I was privileged to grow up in council housing – now in Leeds there is spreading homelessness everywhere and 25,000 on the housing waiting list.  This is not a London crisis – it’s a national housing crisis.”

Paul Burnham, Haringey DCH campaign against demolition, said:

“The key thing we have to win is a vote for residents before any estate can be demolished.  We have a right!  The demolition of council housing must stop – it’s social cleansing.”

Eileen Short of Axe the Housing Act, which co-ordinated the letter and protest, said:

“The election matters.  And whatever the result, we will be back here on 24 June.  The pressure of campaigns has helped put housing on the political agenda. We are determined to keep it there.”

 

 

John McLoughlin, Unison Tower Hamlets SigningAxeMay17LETTER-2

Jacob Secker, Broadwater Farm resident 25May17

Police Soldiers AxeMay17LETTER-145

One Housing Tenants Association, Can't Pay will stay 25May17

March to 10 Downing Street 25May17

All Photographs by Debbie Humphry.

 

Vote for Homes – Election Protest 25/05/17

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Join us this Thursday 25th May, 5.pm at:

Parliament Square, London SW1P 3AD

For a ‘Homes for All’ election protest to expose hollow Government promises on housing and benefits, and demand action – see our Facebook event (please share and invite others):

https://www.facebook.com/events/1288459611207987/

Come along with banners, friends, neighbours and workmates – and bring keys (real or cardboard) with your housing message attached. We will deliver them to Housing and Benefits ministers!

 

Leaflet here:

http://www.axethehousingact.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/M4H2_24June2017_postcard3_print.pdf

 

Screenshot 2017-05-22 at 17.55.26

 

Election Protest: VOTE FOR HOMES – May 25th 2017

Screenshot 2017-05-11 at 14.24.43

 

Screenshot 2017-05-11 at 14.25.05

 

Join us at our Election Protest in London on 25th May 2017 at Parliament Square, London SW1.

In this upcoming general election we must demand housing be at the forefront of all political agendas.

VOTE FOR HOMES

 

 

‘Elephant Park’ Protest for secure, truly affordable homes – April 19th 2017

The latest development on the former Heygate estate at Elephant & Castle, has provoked outrage and as a result has received wide media coverage:

https://www.vice.com/en_uk/article/every-flat-in-a-new-south-london-development-has-been-sold-to-foreign-investors

Tenants and housing campaigners will protest this Wednesday 19th April 5.30-6.30pm at the estate, now called ‘Elephant Park’; meet at junction of Heygate Street with Walworth Road.

We want homes local people can afford, built for people not investors (wherever the money comes from).

Please spread the word, share the Facebook event: We demand homes@Heygate hosted by

Axe the Housing Act – secure homes for all.

 

heygate

 

 

ATHA – Next General Meeting

Our next organising meeting for the Axe The Housing Act campaign will be on Saturday April 22nd.

11 a.m at the Unite Office, Theobalds Road, Holborn London WC1x 8TN.

 

We will reconsider our plans, as Teachers unions have announced an important march against education cuts, on 24 June clashing with our planned march.  Suggestions include co-ordinated days of local protest,  and stepping up pressure on the Housing Minister to defend lifetime secure tenancies and extend these to all tenants.

Come along with ideas, or email reports, ideas and suggestions to demand an end to the Housing Act’s threats, rent controls and secure homes for all.  Such homes were build amid economic and social chaos after 1945 – it can be done now!

All welcome.

ANNOUNCED: ‘March For Homes 2’, 24 June 2017

mfh
Housing problems are mounting, while Government dithers and Housing Act threat to tenancies, rights, sell offs and housing association deregulation remain.

Support is growing fast for a March for Homes 2 on 24 June, with Unison and other trade unions, National Union of Students, Churches, Peoples Assembly and others offering support.

 

Please come with ideas to a mobilising meeting:

27 th March 6.30pm at Unite Offices, 128 Theobalds Rd WC1X 8TN to be part of it.

 

Further information here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1270028319777609/
Help us build the links to create a movement that wins rent controls and secure homes!

All welcome – please spread the word.

 

Next Organising Meeting

Our next meeting is scheduled for Saturday 11th March 2017, 11 a.m at:

UNITE Office, 128 Theobalds Road, London WC1X 8TN

All Welcome,

 

 

Briefing on the Housing White Paper (2017)

 

Introduction

The government’s Housing White Paper released on 7 February, is called ‘Fixing our broken housing market’. We welcome the admission that the housing situation needs ‘radical’ action. But what the White Paper really says is ‘We know what we’re doing doesn’t work, but we’re going to carry on doing it’.

The Prime Minister’s preface says ‘our broken housing market is one of the greatest barriers to progress in Britain today…particularly for ordinary working class people’. But this government is attempting to push up rents, end secure tenancies and force councils and housing associations to sell-off social rented homes. The proposals in the White Paper would accelerate the privatisation of housing and the domination of property developers and speculators.

The government’s housing policy is in chaos. Under pressure from the campaign against the 2016 Housing and Planning Act, ministers are trying to introduce another wave of housing legislation and backtrack on significant aspects of the 2016 Act less than a year after it was passed (though mostly still not implemented). That Act remains a threat and the White Paper only adds to the layers of confusion and uncertainty.

These contradictions undermine the government’s suggestion that councils will be allowed to build homes again. We want to see this happen: it requires serious, long-term investment and all the threats in the Housing and Planning Act to be repealed. The main reason we have a housing crisis is that we’ve stopped building council homes and instead looked to private developers to build so-called affordable homes. This approach has failed miserably, but the White Paper continues to see the private sector as the solution.

There is one thing in the White Paper we fully support. It explicitly states that the housing crisis is NOT the result of immigration or because the country is ‘full’. We hope this will stop politicians using racist scapegoating to justify the lack of genuinely affordable and secure homes.

Below are some more detailed points from the White Paper.

Responses by 2 May 2017: email to planningpolicyconsultation@communities.gsi.gov.uk

 

Housing Associations

The government says ‘Housing associations have been doing well’ and confirms a £7.1 billion budget for HAs to build ‘affordable’ homes, on top of the £23 billion they’ve received since the early 2000s. But HAs have not been building the homes we need. Throughout the 1970s, local authorities consistently built over 100,000 council homes a year. In 2015/16 HAs built 40,000 homes, but only 14% (5,464 homes) were for social rent. The remainder were ‘affordable homes’ at up to 80% of the market level (18,592) and shared ownership (8,767). HAs built more homes for private sale (5,205) than they did for social rent!

They’ve moved away from their founding ethos as ‘social’ landlords and increasingly resemble private developers in their culture and practice. The White Paper will continue that trend. It confirms that HAs will now be regarded as part of the private sector and will allow them to charge higher rents to existing tenants from 2020. This comes on top of the changes in the Housing and Planning Act which make it easier for HAs to switch between social and private housing sectors, weakens the level of regulation and ends the requirement for them to have local councillors on their Boards.

 

Local Councils, public land and regeneration

The White Paper says it wants to ‘encourage local authorities to build again’, but gives no commitment to the money needed for them to do that. It does say that £45 million will be available through a ‘Land Release Fund’ to build 160,000 homes on public land by 2020, but alongside the clauses in the Housing and Planning Act about the use of ‘brownfield’ sites, this could mean allowing private developers to use faster planning permission to build on public land homes that are unaffordable to most people. The White Paper also gives only vague commitments to protect the interests of residents living on estates ear-marked for large scale regeneration projects, where experience shows they are at risk of losing their homes.

 

Private Renters

The government says it wants to make renting fairer for tenants, but the White Paper gives no indication of how. It talks about ‘encouragement’ for longer tenancies, but there’s nothing specific to guarantee renters security or rent controls. The government is stalling on its commitment to end lettings fees, talking about ‘consultation’ instead of immediate abolition.

 

Private Investors and Developers

While it’s vague on commitments to protect tenants’ rights and build the homes we need, the White Paper says it wants to create ‘a long-term framework for investment’ for property speculators, particularly in the private rented sector. This opens the door to the kind of large scale institutional investors who dominate the housing market in the USA and elsewhere. The government says it wants to ‘diversify’ housing provision, but in fact it’s allowing big developers to control housing policy.

 

The Planning System

The White Paper suggests the slowness of the planning system is the main reason we have a housing crisis, but its own figures show that even when they have planning permission, private developers often don’t build. There are lots of ways the planning system could be improved, by making it more transparent, democratic and insisting that targets for social rented homes are met.

 

For the White Paper itself, click here.

For the consultations associated with the White Paper, see Housing Law Consultations.

For a House of Commons Library briefing in respect of the planning aspects of the proposals in the White Paper, click here

For the response of the Local Government Association, click here

For the response of Shelter, click here

For the response of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, click here

For letters to The Guardian in response to the White Paper, click here