Next Strategy Meeting – London, 5th December 2016

 

The Housing and Planning Act grows weaker and weaker but still we must fight to axe it once and for all.

Our next strategy and organising meeting will be held at 7pm, Monday December 5th 2016 at:

Hamilton House, Mabledon Place, London WC1H 9BD

 

All welcome.

#homes4autumn

 

Autumn Statement for Homes: Government Scraps ‘Pay-To-Stay’ Tax

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On Monday 21st November 2016 the Government scrapped a key feature of the Housing and Planning Act 2016; the ‘Pay-To-Stay’ tax on so called ‘high-income’ social tenants. One down – More to Go.

Thank you to everyone who supported our Autumn Statement for Homes Protest at The Houses of Parliament on Wednesday 23rd.

Together we can Axe The Housing Act.

 

#homes4autumn

 

VOICES OF THE HOUSING CRISIS

 

Watch the latest epsiodes of our series ‘VOICES OF THE HOUSING CRISIS’

Featuring Piers Corbyn who presents a simple and straightforward list of measures that would end the housing crisis and let everyone have access to decent secure housing.

In episode five we hear about the onslaught on people of different policies being brought in at the moment, including Universal Credit, the Bedroom Tax and the Housing & Planning Act and next we have Barry Duckett – the Chair of his local TRA in Southwark and member of the Rotherhithe Area Housing Forum.

 

All films by Melissa Herman

Do you have a story to share? Get in touch with us.

 

Autumn Statement For Homes

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The Housing Act is fundamentally unfair, unworkable and must be repealed.

We need to replace it with a national housing strategy that helps create a more just and equal housing future based on rent controls and secure homes for all.

Our Autumn Statement gives some ideas for how we can do that.

We welcome other suggestions and contributions.

Investment in council and other really affordable homes for rent is vital – we need more not less. Investing in council housing and other social rented homes will reduce housing need and help take the heat out of the housing market. Building homes will boost the economy and can create decent, well-paid jobs and apprenticeships. The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has shown that government investment in new, ‘green’ housing is good value for money, with the economy gaining £3.50 for every £1 invested.

The Housing and Planning Act attempts to redefine social renting as ‘emergency’ or ‘temporary’ housing, by ending secure tenancies for council tenants and imposing means testing. This is no way to sustain stable, diverse and cohesive neighbourhoods, rural and cities. We need genuine mixed communities with homes forthe people who clean hospitals and deliver babies, work in factories, teach and assist in classrooms, grow and cook our food and make our coffee, deliver the post and drive buses and trains. A decent,secure, affordable home should be a right, not a time-limited privilege. Our Autumn Statement seeks to protect permanent tenancies for council and housing association tenants and calls for more security, and the scrapping of six-month Assured Shorthold Tenancies, in the private sector.

Less security of tenure means more social cleansing. Entire neighbourhoods are being stripped of their vital social networks and character as people on average and low incomes are priced out. Often this happens under the bogus guise of ‘estate regeneration’. Our Autumn Statement calls for the suspension of estate demolition programmes and investment in new and existing council housing, without strings attached. We need to redirect funding into bricks and mortar, instead of using public money to support high rents and house prices through curren tsubsidies and tax breaks to developers, financiers and landlords and to ‘StarterHomes’.

People are being pushed out of their homes and communities by benefit cuts and caps. Almost half of those currently receiving benefits are in work and £9 billion of public money goes straight to private landlords. We need to scrap the Bedroom Tax and draconian benefit caps, ‘work suitability assessments’ and other policies that waste public money and scapegoat the poor, disabled, women and children for the housing crisis. Our Autumn Statement says ‘cut rents, not benefits!’

Local councils are currently prevented from investing in the homes we need by accountancy procedures that stop them using all the money from Right to Buy sales, borrowing at providential rates and using the full proceeds of rents. Contrary to the myth peddled by politicians and the media, council housing is not subsidised – the biggest subsidies go to landlords (see Shelter report, and for more detail John Hills 2007). Instead our Autumn Statement says we should allow councils the freedom to invest to build and maintain homes that meet need.

Private property developers are profiteering from the housing crisis. They use secret ‘viability assessments’ to get planning permission and build homes few can afford, often bought by investment companies, and many then left empty. Our Autumn Statement calls for the full publication of viability assessments, demands that all new housing developments meet local housing need and that public land is used to launch a national programme of new council house building. The New Economics Foundation has identified an initial 10 plots of publicly-owned land that could provide 4,631 new homes. Other land owned by us – such as the Holloway Prison site in north London – has the potential to make a real contribution towards solving the housing crisis for this and future generations.

The misuse of public land and ‘land banking’ by private developers show we need more democratic control over planning decisions, not less as the government intends. Our Autumn Statement demands the full restoration of planning powers to elected local councillors and the enforcement of existing rules to ensure new housing development meets local housing need.

Housing decisions and services work better when they’re accountable to local people. Our Autumn Statement calls for genuine consultation and opportunities for participation for tenant and resident organisations.

We need housing rights for all, including particularly fo rthe homeless and for Gypsies and Travellers who have seen them taken away over recent years, including under the Act.We back the United Nations Declaration of Universal Human Rights which enshrines the right to adequate housing, including protection from arbitrary eviction, demolition and interference, freedom of movement, security of tenure and equal and nondiscriminatory access to adequate housing.

Housing availability and costs are now a major workplace issue, which is why more trade unions are campaigning for a new approach to housing policy. Too many workers now have to spend well over 30% of their pay on rent or housing costs, or have to spend lots of time and money on long commutes. Even the CBI says that housing costs are having a negative impact on business, the economy and society. Our Autumn Statement calls for a new definition of ‘affordable’ housing based on what two-thirds of people can afford at a maximum one third of net income.

 

An Autumn Statement for homes, jobs and communities

  • Repeal the Housing & Planning Act 2016.
  • Regulation of private renting to include controlled rents, secure tenancies and an end to no-fault and retaliatory evictions.
  • Invest in council housing– remove the artificial debt burden and free councils to develop secure homes at social rent
  • A moratorium on estate demolition– existing homes should be modernised and made energy-efficient
  • Councils’ housing plans and targets must match local need for really-affordable homes for rent
  • Suspend the Right to Buy
  • Scrap the Bedroom Tax and benefit cuts/caps –housing benefit should cover average rents
  • Housing cannot be classed ‘affordable’ if two-thirds of households in an area cannot afford it (i.e.if housing costs amount to over one third of net disposable income)
  • Housing associations must be subject to democratic oversight and regulation
  • Genuine involvement of tenant and resident organisations and those in housing need, with support to encourage real participation in decision making n Respectthe traditions ofGypsies and Travellers and provide suitable sites needed
  • Act to enforce the United Nations Declaration of Universal Human Rights which enshrines the right to adequate housing
  • Restore full local, democratic and transparent planning powers
  • Publish full details of viability assessments for all developments
  • All new housing development to include at least 50% really-affordable housing for rent
  • Public land used for housing to provide 100% publicly-owned, really-affordable homes

 

Download our autumn statement here: AtHA_autumn_statement_23Nov2016_print

Join our Protest at The Houses of Parliament on November 23rd 2016, 12pm.

#homes4autumn

 

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VOICES OF THE HOUSING CRISIS

 

 

Watch episodes two and three of our series ‘VOICES OF THE HOUSING CRISIS’ featuring Rebecca Sawbridge, a resident of Dover and Peter Forrest, a council tenant from Kent.

All films by Melissa Herman

Do you have a story to share? Get in touch with us.

 

November 23rd 2016 – Protest at Houses of Parliament #homes4autumn

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The campaign is growing, to bin the disastrous Housing & Planning Act, and act to control rents and secure homes for all.

Join us at Parliament 23 November from 12 noon.  We will present our alternative Autumn statement for housing.

We’re calling on all tenants groups, housing campaigners, trade unions, councils and housing associations to join the campaign and work with tenants and trade unionists to resist and defeat the Housing Act. All are welcome to join the protest.

Download the Protest Leaflet for more information and distribution here:

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#homes4autumn

 

VOICES OF THE HOUSING CRISIS

Watch the first film in our new series ”VOICES OF THE HOUSING CRISIS”

A selection of video testimonials from campaigners at the October 2016 Axe The Housing Act National Summit – with thoughts on the Housing and Planning Act, why it’s wrong and what we can all do to challenge it. Also featured are personal stories on the importance of social housing, the need for new, truly affordable homes and the current socio-economic landscape.

Episode One features Robert Behan –  a member of the NUT

All films by Melissa Herman

 

Axe The Housing Act National Summit – Report

 

October 22nd’s Axe the Housing Act national summit at the National Union of Teachers HQ was a great success, 200+ people, from 30+ different council areas all determined to unite and fight the Tory attempt to turn back the housing clock.

This broad and growing alliance was reflected in the attendance, with council, housing association, co-op and private tenants alongside unions and local councillors. Speakers included reps. from Disabled People Against Cuts, Stand Up to Racism, the British Assoc. of Social Workers, the successful Butterfields campaign and the elected mayor of Hackney. There was also a statement of support signed by 20+ bishops, the Muslim Council of Britain and other faith leaders.

Thanks to all. We agreed a series of actions and events to build the pressure on government and force them to think again

 

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(Photos by Debbie Humphry)

 

Read Glyn Robbins report on the summit over on 24 Housing here: 24housing.co.uk/opinion/report-from-axe-the-housing-act-summit/

And read some of the great ideas and outcomes from our workshops on our resources page.

See more photos on our Facebook page.

 

Press Release: Open Letter from faith leaders on the Housing Act

A ringing call for a change in housing policy, welcomed a national summit meeting today.  The 23 bishops and other Christian, Jewish, Muslim religious, led by the Bishop of Stepney, describe the Housing Act as “damaging, divisive and unworkable legislation”, and ‘urge the Government to think again’.

See full text and signatories of letter

The letter was sent to all attending a packed meeting of tenants, unions and councils opposing the Act.  The controversial legislation was passed in May this year after serious resistance in the Lords.  It now depends on secondary regulation, none of which has been published or adopted.

The Act threatens wide-ranging changes to existing and future housing provision – see campaign briefing and detailed planning briefing.

Opposition is growing, from Chartered Institute of Housing, and the Local Government Association representing councils across England. Labour conference adopted policy against the Act last month.

The Housing Act summit brought together more than 220 from 30+ areas over half from outside London.  Planned resistance to the Act includes demands on councils and housing associations not to implement a ‘tenants’ tax’, right to buy and market sale of ‘higher value’ council homes.

A plan of campaign includes a protest at Parliament 23 November demanding action on housing in the Government’s Budget Statement.

As faith leaders say in their letter:

‘We need a Housing Act that meets the needs of millions, not only the few, and offers a genuinely sustainable alternative to the endemic uncertainty of the housing market.  The Prime Minister has said she is committed to leading a government for the many, not the few.  The Housing Act stands in contradiction to this’

Ends

Contact Glyn Robbins 07411 557097

Info@axethehousingact.org.uk   www.axethehousingact.org.uk  

 

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Press Release available to download here: Newsrelease_Faithleaders_231016 (1)

 

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Open Letter from Faith Leaders on The Housing Act

 

17th October 2016

 

The Housing and Planning Act may be well intended, but desperately needs re-thinking; as currently conceived it is a piece of damaging, divisive and unworkable legislation, which far from improving things is actually set to make the housing crisis worse.  

Warnings about unintended consequences are being sounded by well-respected organisations like the Chartered Institute of Housing, Shelter, and the Local Government Association.  Housing is fundamental to our dignity and identity as human beings, and a fair and transparent housing policy underpins the flourishing of all communities; yet the current policy threatens to undermine our attempts to create a socially-cohesive society where the needs of the most economically vulnerable are afforded a special place.

We have many concerns about the legislation, but these 3 in particular need to be addressed:

 

  1. Under the current Act it is almost certain that Council and Housing Association tenants will suffer massive rent rises, a form of “tenants’ tax” which will penalise those on moderate incomes and price long-standing local families out of their own neighbourhoods  

 

  1. Introducing greater flexibility in to the social housing market may be a laudable aim, but reducing security of tenure is a questionable way of achieving it

 

  1. It is essential to build more homes, but the drive to home ownership is driven by political philosophy rather than the best interests of residents.  The Act effectively transfers community assets out of social housing in to so-called “starter homes”, costing up to £450,000, but these will be unaffordable to many people who will now have little option other than to expose themselves to the private rented sector

 

We need a Housing Act that meets the needs of millions, not only the few, and offers a genuinely sustainable alternative to the endemic uncertainty of the housing market.  The Prime Minister has said she is committed to leading a government for the many, not the few.  The Housing Act stands in contradiction to this and we urge the Government to think again.  

 

Rt Revd Adrian Newman, Bishop of Stepney

Rabbi Herschel Gluck, OBE, Chairman of the Arab-Jewish Forum

Sanjay Jagatia, Director/Secretary General, Hindu Council UK  

Most Revd Peter Smith, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Southwark

Revd Michaela Youngson, London District Chair, Methodist Church

Harun Rashid Khan, Secretary General, Muslim Council of Britain

Revd Dr Andrew Prasad, Moderator, United Reformed Church Thames North Synod

Sayed Yousif Al-Khoei, OBE, Director, Al-Khoei Foundation

Rt Revd Pete Broadbent, Bishop of Willesden

Rt Revd Jonathan Clark, Bishop of Croydon

Rt Revd Richard Cheetham, Bishop of Kingston

Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, Bishop of Southwark

Malcolm M Deboo, President, Zoroastrian Trust Funds of Europe

Revd Nicola Furley-Smith, Moderator, United Reformed Church Southern Synod

Rt Revd Peter Hill, Bishop of Barking

Very Revd David Ison, Dean of St Paul’s

Revd Les Isaac OBE, CEO Ascension Trust

Ven Rosemary Lain-Priestley, Associate Archdeacon of London

Archbishop Fidelia N Onyuku-Opukiri, Worldwide of Born Again Christ Healing Church International

Dr Hugh Osgood, Free Churches Moderator

Rt Revd Rob Wickham, Bishop of Edmonton

Rt Revd Ric Thorpe, Bishop of Islington

Rt Revd Graham Tomlin, Bishop of Kensington

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Letter available to download here : 161017 Letter from faith leaders re housing and planning act