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From The Socialist newspaper, 31 October 2018

Homelessness, Universal Credit misery, high rents, cramped flats, isolated estates...end the housing crisis now!

March for Homes, London, 31st January 2015, photo Paul Mattsson

March for Homes, London, 31st January 2015, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Connor Rosoman, Brighton Socialist Party

Housing in Britain is in crisis. Bailiffs were called to a house in Hove on 26 October after the tenant - struggling to get by on Universal Credit - fell into rent arrears. I joined a local tenants' union which held a picket outside the house to prevent the evictions.

Many tenants find themselves unable to live alone due to skyrocketing rent prices. Under new 'co-living' schemes in big cities, up to several hundred tenants are packed into massive apartment buildings with shared bathrooms, kitchens and other such facilities. Bedrooms are cramped, leaving people with little space to themselves.

The spread of small, overcrowded housing can have negative effects on physical and mental health, and such 'co-living' spaces are another step in this direction.

At the same time, many of those who can afford their own homes find themselves living on new housing developments built on the edges of towns without local facilities and with poor transport links.

This means many working-class families are forced to drive to reach, schools, doctors and shops. As a result of the increased traffic, families spend hours in the car just to reach essential services. Instead of these poorly designed neighbourhoods, we need quality, affordable housing and decent public transport.

Homelessness

Meanwhile some have nowhere to live at all. Homelessness has seen a dramatic increase, with an estimated 4,751 people sleeping on the streets last year. This is a 15% increase since 2016 alone.

But councils have tried to sweep the problem under the rug - forcing rough sleepers out of the cities by using Public Service Protection Orders (PSPOs). Many homeless people have been denied legal aid in challenging councils that have used PSPOs in an attempt to criminalise homelessness.

Universal Credit has driven many people into rent arrears and - alongside precarious contracts and poverty wages - thousands of people in work cannot afford a home. We need to fight back against low pay, benefit cuts, rent hikes and poor-quality housing.

The Socialist Party campaigns for rent controls and we raise the demand that local councils fight back by using their extensive reserves and borrowing powers to set no-cuts, needs-based budgets.

With the Tories having lifted restrictions on borrowing to fund council house building, there is absolutely no excuse for Labour councils not to act. They should begin a massive programme of council-house building to provide all people with high-quality, affordable places to live.

This means building a mass campaign and demanding the funding needed from the government. Jeremy Corbyn should pledge now that any council which took such a road would see its funds restored on day one of a Labour government.


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In The Socialist 31 October 2018:


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The Socialist inbox


 

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Related links:

Housing:

triangleSay no to finance capital-backed luxury tower block in Enfield

triangleTV: Council House Britain

triangleNewham: Closed and evicted

triangleExtend eviction ban! Cap rents! Build council homes!

triangleManctopia: billion pound property boom

Universal Credit:

triangleWelfare after Covid-19

trianglePCS union: Reject longer DWP opening hours

trianglePCS union demands better deal for benefits claimants

triangleUC stopped without warning

Rents:

triangleAct now to cancel Covid crisis rents and debt

triangleStarmer in full retreat over C-19 rents crisis

triangleHousing - bold, socialist measures necessary

Homelessness:

triangleEviction ban extension not enough: make it longer, forgive the arrears!

triangleHousing crisis: what now and after the pandemic?

London:

triangleTransport for London funding crunch

Homes:

triangleFight for jobs and homes for all - defend the right to asylum

Transport:

triangleOnline rally: Fight the London transport funding cuts!

Homeless:

triangleTV: Ross Kemp - Living with Forced Out Families

Tenants:

triangleLeeds: Little London residents are celebrating

Council:

triangleObituary: Raph Parkinson 1958-2020

Households:

trianglePoverty rises again - especially for BAME workers

Low pay:

triangleWaltham Forest Socialist Party: Fight to end low pay in the NHS and Care

Hove:

triangleDeliveroo cedes ground in Brighton dispute

Wages:

triangleA day in the life of a salon worker

Evictions:

triangleNo-fault evictions ban, but cuts leave tenants vulnerable

Public transport:

triangleTransport workers and passengers mustn't pay the price

Poverty:

triangleDoncaster: Vigil for murdered women

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