Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/806/18449
Cap rents not benefits
Build quality council homes
Chris Flood, Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) candidate in Lewisham
My local area, the Labour-controlled south London borough of Lewisham, is no longer an affordable place to live. One of the main questions socialists and trade unionists get asked is why is there no decent accommodation at a reasonable price?
The private sector is failing to build affordable homes, most spectacularly in London and other big cities.
Even Con-Dem minister Vince Cable admits that "a family on average income is nowhere near able to afford a house at the average price."
House prices in the London borough of Brent went up by almost a third in one year. All bar one London borough has had double digit price rises.
Big cities such as Manchester also saw enormous house price rises. The private sector, aiming for instant massive profit, is not building houses - home completions are still way below pre-financial crash levels.
So how do people on low wages find housing? More and more people are renting and most rents have gone sky high.
London Mayor Boris Johnson recently approved two schemes in north London. He insisted that 30% of the flats should be 'affordable'.
By that he means tenants paying 'only' 80% of the rent on the private market. But that's still over £22,000 a year - even 'affordable' Tory rents are unaffordable to most people!
We are seeing the return of what was called 'Rachmanism' where impoverished tenants paid slum landlords massive rents for mouldy hovels.
Today it's often buy-to-rent landlords, many of them corporate, who are buying up local houses just to collect the juicy rent.
We will fight for the council to set up a register of private landlords, and a council run lettings agency to ensure the quality and safety of private accommodation. That agency should cap rents at council rent levels.
Councils used to reduce the impact of Rachmanite landlords by building flats and houses at affordable subsidised prices.
We say today's councils need to build many thousands of new houses to give new hope to tenants and also put a brake on private rents.
In Lewisham, the council should start building new council homes as a matter of urgency! As a start we call for the building of 18,000 new homes to house those people who are in the most urgent need.
We also need to fight to save the council housing we already have.
Whoever wins the May elections, we will keep fighting for real action to make the borough affordable for all its people to live in.
Labour and most establishment politicians timidly accept the government's cuts. We do not.
Help make a difference - vote Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition on 22 May and join the struggle.
Our demands on housing include:
- Tackle the housing crisis by mass building of council houses
- Cap all rents in the private sector at council rent level
- Scrap the bedroom tax
- For a £10 an hour minimum wage for all
- Nationalise the house-building companies
- Fight for a socialist society based on the needs of the overwhelming majority of people
In The Socialist 9 April 2014:
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