Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/856/20716
11,000 families evicted in three months
Cut rents not benefits
Eleven thousand families were thrown out of their accommodation in the first three months of 2015. This is a 51% increase compared to six years ago.
These evictions are due to excessive rents, coupled to low pay and to government benefit cuts.
Around half of those affected lived in London where the average monthly rent for a two-bedroom home is £2,216.
Yet the government response to this housing crisis is to make matters even worse. It will further cap welfare payments and end the limited housing benefit currently available to under-21s claiming Jobseeker's Allowance.
The only group of people profiting from this misery is private landlords, who can charge tenants what they like due to the absence of rent controls. These 'winners' also get a public subsidy, amounting to over £1,000 per household each year, by pocketing housing benefit and getting generous tax concessions.
This shouldn't come as any surprise as, at the time of the general election, one-in-four MPs, including Labour MPs, were also private landlords.
It's become nigh-on impossible for families earning average wages to buy a home. According to the homeless charity Shelter, 80% of homes nationally are unaffordable to the average income family, with only 43 properties deemed genuinely affordable in London. Meanwhile, housebuilding has slumped to its lowest levels since the 1920s.
But if it's impossible to buy and increasingly impossible to rent in the private sector, what is the alternative?
Council houses are becoming rarer than rhinos as local authorities continue to sell off housing stock under the government's heavily subsidised 'right to buy' policy. These homes are not replaced with housing that charges 'social' rents, ie 50% of market rents.
Now, the government also wants to extend this sell-off to 1.3 million housing association homes.
Having a roof over your head should be a fundamental human right. But this government of millionaires only represents the money-making interests of the country's super-rich.
We need to kick out this anti-working class government and fight for one with socialist policies. The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition stood in the elections to put that alternative. These policies must include:
- Rent controls to stop excessive rents and reduce the housing benefit bill
- Increasing the minimum wage to £10 an hour
- Ending benefit caps and punitive benefit sanctions
- A massive programme of council house building
- Nationalise the major banks and giant construction companies to finance this housing programme
In The Socialist 20 May 2015:
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