Socialist Worker

Protests take to the streets against homelessness and the Tory Housing Bill

by Alistair Farrow
Issue No. 2499

Leeds March

Marching in Leeds (Pic: Darryl Calvert Photography)


Housing campaigners staged sleep-outs and demonstrations across Britain yesterday, Friday.

The actions were in solidarity with homeless people and against the Tory Housing Bill.

The protests were also organised as part of the build up to today's People’s Assembly demonstration against austerity in London.

The movement against the Tory Housing Bill is growing and is part of the increasing mood of resistance to Tory rule.

Some 200 people joined a March for the Homeless in London from Downing Street to a sleep-out in Southwark, south London.

The story was the same across London with people coming out to protest on town hall steps. In Tower Hamlets, east London, a junior doctor brought solidarity down to the protest. In Southwark, doctors from Maudsley Hospital sent a message of solidarity to the sleep-out.

In Leeds 50 people marched around the city centre to show solidarity. One organiser was arrested and police harassed protesters.

Councillors spoke at the protests in Hammersmith, Harlow and elsewhere.

However, some protesters criticised Labour for not doing enough to fight the cuts.

Ricky from Milton Keynes said, “It’s good that Jeremy Corbyn is leader of the Labour Party but we need people out on the streets demonstrating.

"Labour councils that are implementing cuts ought to be ashamed. They need to grow a backbone and stand up to this vicious government.”

Some £122 billion worth of property in England and Wales is owned by offshore companies. Some 36,342 properties covering 2.2 square miles of London are owned by shell companies. 

 

Homeless activist Paul attended the London march. He told Socialist Worker, “It’s sickening how billionaires are buying up houses as investments and holding them empty to push up prices. They’re putting down spikes to stop us from sleeping in the street. Where are we supposed to go?

“I was in the army. Many of us end up on the streets. We get in trouble, go to prison, they don’t care.”

Tanya from Southwark Kill the Bill campaign said, “We need to think about what to do if the bill passes.

“If every Labour council refused to implement the bill, I don’t think the government is in a position to force it through.

“We need local organisations capable of putting enough pressure on councils to get them to vote against implementation.”

Eddie in Hammersmith agreed. “The Housing Bill is an attack on working class people," he said. "It must be opposed in the same way as the poll tax.”

The bill will mean that households with combined earnings of £30,000, or £40,000 in London will be forced to pay market rents. Thousands will have to move home and some will be made homeless.

Henry, branch secretary of the Unite union at Southwark council said, “I only make £24,000 a year. But if I wanted someone to move in with me then I’d have to begin paying market rates, three times what I pay now. I’d have to move.”

Ricky from Milton Keynes said, “I’ve been homeless. I’m here in solidarity with homeless people.

“We need to kill the Housing Bill. Let’s bring thousands of people onto the streets to bring this country to a standstill.”

Thanks to Sarah Creagh, Graham Hodgin, Mick Patrick and Christian Hogsbjerg

 

 


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