Campaigners are set to descend on London this Saturday for a national protest against the Tories’ Housing and Planning Act.
The Act is due to come into effect next April—but tenants already face attacks.
In Lambeth, south London, six estates are being sold off. In Milton Keynes seven estates are up for redevelopment.
Councils have begun to forecast predictions of how much housing stock they could be pushed to sell once the Act comes into effect. In Canterbury it is estimated that all the stock could be gone within five years.
This underlines the fact that campaigners can’t put their hope in a change of government after the 2020 elections—we need to fight now.
But local campaigns can put pressure on Labour councillors to oppose the attacks. Vanessa Hill, a Labour councillor in Canterbury, spoke to Socialist Worker in a personal capacity.
She said, “I’m completely and utterly against the Act. It’s a game isn’t it? The Tories are making the rich richer and the poor poorer.
“I hope lots of people turn out for the march.”
In Lambeth, south London, councillor Rachel Heywood has spoken out against the selloffs.
In Islington, north London, the council sent out letters and called a public meeting. Some 600 tenants and campaigners attended.
Council leader Richard Watts has declared that the council will not issue fixed-term tenancies.
He said the council was “absolutely committed to continuing to issue secure lifetime tenancies, including succession arrangements”. These are where tenants can pass on their tenancies to their children.
Watts added, “We will do everything we can to protect our stock. We’re not going to give up on this.”
Councillors in Southwark, south London, have also sent out letters to tenants and 90 people attended a tenants meeting last month.
Nationally, a Kill the Housing Act congress of tenants, campaigners and councillors is planned for October. Activists can approach councils to send out factsheets about the Act.
Many people are unaware of how serious its impact will be. The pressure is on councils not to act outside the law. But defeating the Act will mean doing exactly that. Pressure from below will be decisive.
Axe the Housing Act—assemble 12 noon, Sat 18 June at Hyde Park Corner in central London. Go to bit.ly/1UdzBdM for a briefing about the Housing and Planning Act
The attacks in the Act
The Housing and Planning Act will slash council housing stock, push up rents and encourage more privatisation.
- Instructs councils to sell off “high value” housing
- Phases out secure tenancies and replaces them with fixed-term tenancies
- Scraps the right of tenants to pass on secure tenancies to their children
- Forces tenants who stay to pay higher rents
- Encourages housing association tenants to buy their homes—with no plan to replace the homes that are sold
- Scraps bosses’ obligation to build some homes for “social rents” in every new development