On Saturday 20 November Labour Left Internationalists hosted a Zoom meeting about the housing emergency.
It was the first of a series of “link-with-campaigns” meetings we plan with speakers from left and labour movement campaigns. The next is on Saturday 18 November (4:30pm), about health and social care.
Video recording of the lead-off speeches here:
Dave Renton spoke first, drawing on his new book based on his work as a housing lawyer, Jobs and Homes.
The housing benefit system is working to enrich private landlords: we need to campaign for rent controls, and for the Tory government to come good on its repeated and broken promises to repeal Section 21, which allows for “no-fault” evictions.
Paul Watt presented evidence based on his book on estate regeneration in London.
Estate regeneration as currently practised displaces and disperses council tenants. It reduces the available council-housing stock, while turning over much of the previous council-estate land to new high-rent private accommodation.
The background is the council housing stock being eroded by Right to Buy and by near-zero new council house building, especially in the New Labour years; and government cuts leading councils to do inadequate maintenance and renovation on estates.
Andrea Gilbert spoke from the Labour Homelessness Campaign. They have been working to help people facing No Recourse to Public Funds rule, and will shortly be launching a campaign on the issue of temporary accommodation granted to those deemed homeless. Some 95,000 households are in temporary accommodation, including 120,000 children; the accommodation is often poor, and often a very long way away from where they apply as homeless.
The Labour Homelessness Campaign has also been working, and successfully, with ACORN and with groups like the London Renters’ Union, to block evictions.
Martin Wicks spoke from the Labour Campaign for Council Housing. LCCH got a composite including its demands passed by Labour conference 2021. It is now urging CLPs to pass motions on the following lines:
“Call on the Party nationally to implement the composite resolution as a matter of urgency; Call on our Labour Group to propose that our council declares a housing emergency to campaign for those key demands. This may include lobbying local MPs, the Local Government Association and other organisations, working with tenant groups and trades unions”.
The chief points in the composite were: Fully funding councils to deliver the building of 150,000 social rent homes each year, including 100,000 council homes
Ending Right to Buy
Reviewing council housing debt to address underfunding of housing revenue accounts
Fund the retro-fitting of council housing to cut greenhouse gases, provide jobs and promote a shift from outsourcing to Direct Labour Organisations
Ending Section 21 (no fault) evictions”.
Some useful links provided by the speakers: