Socialist Worker

No return to Cardboard City, campaigners tell Cameron

Issue No. 2310

Protesting outside the gates of Downing Street (Pic: Smallman )

Protesting outside the gates of Downing Street (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Campaigners protested outside Downing Street on Wednesday against housing benefit cuts that threaten to make thousands of young people homeless.

David Cameron recently set out plans to scrap housing benefit for under-25s.

He aims to strip the benefit from some 380,000 young people as part of plans to axe £10 billion from the welfare budget by 2016.

The protest was called by Right to Work and supported by campaigners from Defend Council Housing, Occupy London’s housing group and the Unite union’s community campaigns.

“We don’t want a return to the bad old days of the 1980s and 1990s with people sleeping rough in cardboard boxes on our streets,” said Mark Dunk from Right to Work.

Protesters held placards reading “Cardboard City—never again”, a reference to the site near Waterloo station where hundreds of homeless people lived in the 1980s and 1990s

The government should be capping private sector rents rather than restricting housing benefit—and building affordable homes rather than leaving people to the mercy of the markets, they added.


The campaigners handed a petition into Downing Street and protested directly outside the gates before getting moved on by police. They went on to briefly occupy a branch of Barclays Bank in Westminister.

Eileen Short from Defend Council Housing was on the protest. Cameron’s latest threats come on top of a series of attacks on housing benefit that have already taken place, she told Socialist Worker.

“The Tories scrapped controls on private rents in the 1990s,” she said. “Back then they said that if people couldn’t afford to pay market rents, ‘housing benefit will take the strain’. But now they’re attacking housing benefit while private rents are soaring.

Almost every indicator is pointing to an imminent housing crisis, Eileen added. “We’ve seen a 43 percent rise in rough sleeping in London in the past year. Eviction rates are rising too.

“We’re seeing families crowding into smaller accommodation, moving into sheds, or even cutting down on food to pay the rent.”

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Thu 5 Jul 2012, 11:03 BST
Issue No. 2310
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