What is a council house? Not what Theresa May is offering, that’s for sure!—writes Eileen Short of Defend Council Housing

15 May 2017

What is a council house? Not what Theresa May is offering, that’s for sure!—writes Eileen Short of Defend Council Housing (DCH is part of the Axe the Housing Tax Alliance)

Campaigners meeting on Saturday were warned the Conservatives would make hollow promises about council homes, and also try to divert blame onto immigrants for the current crisis.

On cue Theresa May has announced plans to fund fake “council homes”, to be sold off after 10-15 years.

Within 24 hours it’s clear this is not a real commitment. There is no new funding, but a reuse of money already pledged for other, non-affordable and not-for rent alternatives. ‘”At least some” of the (unspecified quantity of) homes will have a limited-term tenancy. After 10 to 15 years they will be sold to a “private owner, landlord or institutional investor”, if tenants can’t afford to buy.

To expose such fake policies, we are planning a ‘Homes for All’ election protest 25 May from 5pm at Parliament Square in London – see Facebook.

Come along with banners and workmates, sign a real pledge for homes, and bring keys (real or cardboard) with your housing message attached.

The struggle to find, keep and pay for a home is an issue in most workplaces, communities and families. Further benefit cuts and Universal Credit will escalate evictions, unless they’re stopped.

That’s why Disabled People against Cuts are joining the protest.

Recent policies, and in particular the Housing and Planning Act 2016 and benefit cuts, will force millions more into insecure and unaffordable private renting or homelessness, as non-market housing alternatives are destroyed.

Building more homes that are genuinely affordable and secure, requires long-term government investment and freeing local councils to invest in the homes we need. Council housing pays for itself and is a permanent community asset.

Housing associations (HAs), set up as ‘social landlords’, are becoming increasingly commercial. We need action to make HAs more accountable, restore regulation and increase independent tenant organisation such as the One Housing Tenants Action Group in east London, which is successfully resisting a 40 per cent rent rise.

Labour under Jeremy Corbyn has made a clear commitment to building 500,000 new council homes, and end the Bedroom Tax and other benefit cuts. This has raised hopes of the action that’s needed – and is pressuring May to posture as a friend of council housing. Sadly there are signs of back tracking in the leaked Manifesto, reverting to talk of ‘social’ housing association and affordable homes for sale, instead of new council homes.

For the next four weeks we have to intervene to keep housing in the headlines and pull more people into our campaigns.

We have to strengthen the fight inside Labour for council housing, and bring this together with those outside Labour to keep the pressure on any future Labour government. And if the Tories win we have to keep fighting anyway!

Tenants of all tenures (council, housing association and private tenants), Travellers and boat-dwellers, housing workers and other trade unions, charities and others have come together to Axe the Housing Act and demand action.

  • Five million people are on council waiting lists; buying a home has never been more unaffordable;
  • typical private renters spend at least half their income on rent; homelessness has doubled since 2010;
  • good homes are being demolished in the name of ‘regeneration’. We need action to improve the situation for private tenants, living with constant rent rises and only two months from eviction.

We want politicians to commit themselves to:

  • Stop demolition of council estates
  • A national programme of council house building
  • Rent control and extending security to private renters
  • Repeal the Housing and Planning Act 2016

 

March for Homes election protest

5pm, Thursday 25th May

Parliament Square, London SW1P 3AD

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

Axe the Housing Act general election leaflet including 25th May and 24th June

Protests here: http://www.axethehousingact.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/AtHAelection2017.pdf

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