The Housing Crisis in Britain in 2015

 

By Joseph Adams, RCIT Britain, 28.11.2015, (Published in LIBERATION#7, December 2015; LIBERATION is the monthly Bulletin of the RCIT Britain), https://rcitbritain.wordpress.com/

 

 

 

David Cameron’s government with the introduction of his new Housing Bill has set out to destroy social housing in Britain as we know it. Whether you are a tenant in a council home or a housing association this government proposes to end cheap rented accommodation by only providing houses to buy. This policy coupled with the introduction of tax credits and other proposals in their Welfare Reform is an attack on the working class and the youth. Its aim is to pauperise large sections of the population, make the rich richer and the poor poorer.

 

Evidence from housing experts and other has shown how this policy is being brought about. “Around 7,000 council homes will not be replaced under the right to buy extension. (…) The government’s right to buy extension to housing association tenants is to be funded by the selling of vacant high-value council stock”. [1]

 

Together with the right to buy scheme which was laid out by the Secretary of State Greg Clarke, the government also intends to reduce social rents forcing housing associations to reduce their involvement to provide low cost rented accommodation. “31.9% of Housing associations chief executives said as a result of the rent cuts, it is likely that their organisations will stop entering new agreements for sub-market rents”. [2]

 

 

 

Attacks

 

 

 

This decision by Cameron’s government will lead to a further decimation of staff in the public sector. Having already privatised the NHS and other public utilities Cameron is now preparing in the housing sector to privatise and ensure that rich investors and bankers benefit from the Right to Buy scheme. “Landlords reveal that more than 10% of their staff will go in a spate of redundancies. New Charter group has become the latest landlord to announce redundancies in response to the social housing rent cut”. [3] “The future of low cost rented housing is under threat following key conservative announcements. David Cameron announced councils will no longer be able to insist on social or affordable rents in planning agreements.” [4]

 

The proposal for the right to buy scheme was announced by Clarke at a National Housing Federation conference which most Housing associations and providers in the social housing sector are affiliated to. “A total of 323 national housing federation members controlling 2.3 million homes voted to back the deal with 37 voting against”. [5]

 

Jeremy Corbyn’s new shadow housing minister has decided not to oppose the governments rent cuts instead they are proposing a series of amendments to the bill. “Labour will not oppose the governments social housing rent cut despite Jeremy Corbyn using his first appearance at Prime Ministers question time to query the policy”. [6]

 

The attack on local authorities by forcing them to sell most of their high value properties has produced a response from some of the leaders of Labour controlled boroughs in London where this policy will be felt the most. Some of these leaders have vowed to end their relationship with housing associations and end any partnership deals that they have with them. The association of Retained Council Stock in Britain has also reacted to these new proposals as have the Federation of Arm’s Length Management organisations which also provide social housing in Britain. Clarke has never been in consultation with local authorities on these changes.

 

Recent information from the housing organisation ‘Inside Housing’ has shown the result of the Right to Buy scheme of Council homes under the Thatcher government in 1980. “Nearly 40% of all council flats sold under the RTB in England are now being rented out privately = figures related by 91 councils under the freedom of information act show 37.6% of ex-council flats are being rented privately at market rents”. [7]

 

The use of Benefit Sanctions has increased under this Government. Ian Duncan-Smith the minister responsible continues to use the benefit cap for mean and minor infringements of the rules affecting a number of workers and youth. It is a pernicious and vicious system directed at the poorest section of society where more and more people are facing hardship, poverty and starvation in 21st Century Britain. “More than 23,000 household’s benefits have been capped. The number of households subject to the benefit cap has increased to more than 23,000 for the first time”. [8]. “The social rent cut will be of little or no benefit to the majority of social tenants, while a quarter of a million will see rents hiked to the market rates”. [9]

 

Redundancies will follow as housing associations will continue to ensure their profitability and make redundancies to front line staff. Chief Executive Salaries will not be cut and bonuses reputedly at over £150,000 per annum will continue to be paid. “North Hertfordshire homes are looking to ace up to 50 jobs as it attempts to cope with the social housing rent cut”. [10]. “Gentoo will make 330 redundancies as a result of the rent cut-nearly 1in 5 of its total workforce”. [11]

 

Other proposals in this new Housing bill before parliament also have proposals to end life time or assured tenancies in favour of fixed term contracts.

 

Although this government has said that their new Right to Buy scheme was voluntary there is evidence to suggest that housing associations are going to force tenants to buy or evict them from their properties. “An East London housing association has told more than 150 tenants to buy a share of their house (Shared Ownership) or leave”. [12].

 

 

 

Program

 

 

 

Housing is an important issue and the RCIT IN BRITAIN puts forward the following programme for struggle as the only solution to the housing crisis in Britain.

 

* Occupy empty Housing

 

* Build Defence groups to defend the occupiers from provocation of police or fascist attack

 

* Pass resolutions in Trades Councils, trade union branches; no evictions to be carried out by trade unionists employed by councils or other housing groups.

 

* Ensure that local authority housing departments have enough affordable housing and build council housing without the right to buy.

 

 

 

The workers movement should mobilise for mass demonstrations and strikes around the following demands:

 

* Abolish the right to buy, transfer ownership of or sell community buildings and public spaces

 

* Initiate a programme for the construction of Social housing made available at rents tied to earnings

 

* Immediately establish and activate Rent tribunals

 

* Abolish the Bedroom Tax and Benefits cap

 

* Abolish Universal Credit, reinstate Housing Benefits

 

* Reinstate secure tenancies abolish short term contracts

 

* Repeal the 2012 act criminalising squatting

 

* Full equality for Migrants and ethnic/national minorities

 

* Cancel all Household debts

 

 

 

The RCIT in Britain says the only lasting solution to the housing crisis is the overthrow of capitalism and to establish socialism.

 

* For a workers government based upon councils of action in every locality

 

* For armed workers militia to defend councils of action from provocation from state or fascist attacks.

 

 

 

The RCIT in Britain calls for all revolutionaries and socialists to join us as the first step to build a pre-party organisation in Britain leading to the formation of a worldwide revolutionary workers party as part of the Fifth International.

 

 

 

Footnotes

 

 

 

(1) INSIDE HOUSING MAGAZINE www.insidehousing.co.uk 23rd October 2015 pg.7

 

(2) INSIDE HOUSING MAGAZINE www.insidehousing.co.uk 16th October 2015 pg.1

 

(3) INSIDE HOUSING MAGAZINE www.insidehousing.co.uk 16th October 2015 pg.4

 

(4) INSIDE HOUSING MAGAZINE www.insidehousing.co.uk 9th October 2015 pg.1

 

(5) INSIDE HOUSING MAGAZINE www.insidehousing.co.uk 9th October 2015 pg. 1

 

(6) INSIDE HOUSING MAGAZINE www.insidehousing.co.uk 4th September 2015 pg.1

 

(7) INSIDE HOUSING MAGAZINE www.insidehousing.co.uk 14th august 2015 pg.1

 

(8) www.insidehousing.co.uk/policy/welfare-reform-benifit-cap/morethan23

 

(9) www.insidehousing.co.uk/business/finance/rent-social-rent-cutwill-not-help-tenants/7012603

 

(10) www.insidehousing.co.uk/business/tenancy/government-plans-to-scrap-life-term-tenancies

 

(11) www.insidehousing.co.uk/businessasset-management/amount

 

(12) www.insidehousing.co.uk/business/gentoo-to-make-330-redundancies/701249

 

 

 

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