Socialist Worker

Take back housing from the Tories and rich

Issue No. 2494

Marching against the Housing Bill in Lambeth last month

Marching against the Housing Bill in Lambeth last month (Pic: Socialist Worker )


Politicians are queuing up to admit that there’s a chronic housing crisis—but no amount of hand wringing will absolve them for causing it.

The Tories’ Housing and Planning Bill declares all-out war on working class people’s right to council housing. It will force more tennants out of council and social housing and into extortionate private-rented accommodation.

Since Margaret Thatcher, the Tories have masked their attacks on housing with talk about helping ordinary people to own their own homes.

The truth is nothing to do with “aspiration”—it’s a property grab for their developer mates.

While the rich take each other to court over luxury extensions, working class people are being forced out of their homes.

The London mayoral candidates’ policies are woefully inadequate on the housing crisis.

For Tory Zac Goldsmith, the only way is up. He’s talked about building more storeys on public buildings such as Tube stations.

Labour’s Sadiq Khan has floated setting up a not-for-profit lettings agency to take on rogue landlords.

Others also talk about making it easier to build on public land or devolving planning powers.

But they’re just tinkering around the edges because they refuse to address what’s behind the crisis.

Crash

The Guardian newspaper reports that house building has hit a “seven-year high”—but that’s still 22 percent down from before the global crash in 2008.

The Tories boast that 143,560 homes were started and 142,890 completed in 2015.

But that’s “nowhere near” the quarter of a million new homes needed every year in England alone, housing charity Shelter points out.

In London there’s plenty of building. The problem is that most people will never afford these new luxury flats.

Many can’t dream of buying a home and are forced to pay through the nose for gruesome hovels owned by 21st century slum landlords.

Solving this crisis means breaking with the market—not entrenching it further. Homes should be a right, not a commodity bought and sold for profit.

There needs to be a government-led programme of mass council house building—creating jobs and hundreds of thousands of homes.

Greedy investors should not be allowed to sit on empty homes.

The Tories’ latest attack has ignited the struggle involving tenants, renters and campaigners.

This shows the potential to build a mass movement that can reclaim housing for ordinary people.

Kill the Housing Bill protest
Sunday 13 March. Assemble 12pm Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London WC2A

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