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From The Socialist newspaper, 14 December 2011

TV review

Britain's great housing scandal exposed

Paul Kershaw, Unite LE 1111 housing workers' branch

Channel 4's campaigning series of programmes, The Great British Property Scandal, has struck a chord with a wide audience. By Monday 12 December, one week after the first programme, over 100,000 people had signed up to support the campaign via the internet.

Starting with a heartrending programme on 'landlords from hell', Channel 4 moved on to highlight the waste of empty homes, mostly privately owned.

A mass of statistics highlighted the scandal of housing in Britain and viewers were shown the delight felt by homeless individuals helped in to housing by the programme presenters.

The series showed that homeless people are 'more like you than you realise'; a combination of life events can quite easily push people without large amounts of money into homelessness. They are then locked in a spiral: if you don't have a home you can't get a job, without a job you can't get a home.

Research published since the programme shows that this is not just a matter for disinterested sympathy for many viewers.

A YouGov poll for homeless charity Crisis shows that a quarter of people in Britain are worried about losing their home. Three quarters felt there should be a change in the current law so that councils have to provide advice, assistance and emergency accommodation to single homeless people.

Everyone will be moved by seeing people housed by the programmes, but TV programmes alone cannot reverse the rise in homelessness.

Regulations

The programmes did call for councils to make better use of their powers to regulate private landlords, but you have to stop the cuts to do that.

They did note the decline in social housing: the real solution would be a massive programme of building more of it.

Ironically, a series that started with an exposé of bad conditions and insecurity in the private rented sector, also tries to boost that sector and convince potential private landlords they can make a profit.

Far better would be a campaign to cap rents, reintroducing rent control, and to reintroduce basic security of tenure in the sector, stopping arbitrary eviction, as emergency measures.

The Channel 4 campaign has raised key issues but avoids challenging the cuts and austerity; that is the role of trade unions, socialists and anti-cuts campaigns.

www.channel4.com/programmes/the-great-british-property-scandal

Homelessness application increases 2010-11:



"Local authorities have the powers to tackle rogue landlords but too many aren't making the most of their armoury. They must follow the lead of those councils taking a zero tolerance approach to rogue landlords, and support tenants who are suffering by cracking down on the worst offenders in their area," commented Shelter. Local authorities should use their powers to oppose cuts to Environmental Health and housing departments!


Councils and bad private landlords

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In The Socialist 14 December 2011:


Socialist Party feature

Tories speak for the rich - not for us


Socialist Party news and analysis

Hands off our NHS!

Unacceptable! Draconian sentences for Dundee 'Facebook riot' teenagers

Striking to defend pensions

No progress at climate conference

Them & Us

Why I joined the Socialist Party


Socialist Party editorial

Stand up to the Con-Dem government


Socialist Party reviews

Inside Job: Capitalism is a failed system: support the socialist fightback

TV review: Britain's great housing scandal exposed


Socialist Party workplace news

All out now to stop the sites!

Pensioners and workers - united fight needed

Occupy London tours Canary Wharf

Action after N30

Langdon school strike

Public sector pensions - where now?

Tax workers on strike

Workplace news in brief


International socialist news and analysis

"Putin is a thief", "Putin is a thief"

Kazakhstan - 20 years of authoritarianism!


Readers' Comments

Cameron's drugs problems

Attacks on Tupe rights hit hard

Building bosses and their blacklist


 

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