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From The Socialist newspaper, 28 June 2017

Grenfell fire compounded by overcrowding: build more council homes now

Demonstrators on the London March for Homes, 15.01.2015, photo Paul Mattsson

Demonstrators on the London March for Homes, 15.01.2015, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

'Derek Acer', London housing worker and Socialist Party member

Estimates are that between 400 and 600 people lived in Grenfell Tower.

But it had 80 two-bedroom flats and 40 one-bedroom flats. That's just 200 bedrooms in total.

There is an intense housing crisis in London. Wages have not kept up with rising rents. Housing benefit has been reduced. The benefit cap has made London housing completely unaffordable to 30,000 households.

For people who have lost their homes the choice is particularly stark. There are almost 2,000 households in Kensington and Chelsea which the council has accepted as homeless.

London councils have been dispersing homeless households to temporary accommodation at great distances from London.

I have visited a project based at Kensington town hall which has been relocating families to the west Midlands on a permanent basis.

Given such an impossible situation, many homeless households go to stay with family and friends so they can maintain employment, education and social networks.

But one consequence is that blocks like Grenfell Tower can become severely overcrowded.

The Socialist Party demands a genuine democratic inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire. This should include housing management issues. However, this alone does not go far enough.

There should also be an inquiry into homelessness across London. Homeless households should not be exiled from their local community.

Jeremy Corbyn has been spot-on in demanding that empty private accommodation locally should be requisitioned to house households from the tower. This is the right immediate response - but wider issues also need to be addressed.

When Thatcher brought in 'right to buy', properties were privatised one at a time.

New Labour then ramped up 'large-scale voluntary transfer' whereby whole estates - even the entire housing stock in individual council areas - were transferred to unaccountable social landlords.

There was a target of moving 200,000 properties each year out of the public sector.

Tenants groups across London should come together to demand an immediate programme to meet housing need. A first step should be stopping the Greater London Authority and borough councils from selling public land to private developers.

Safe new public housing should be built with genuinely affordable rents and democratic control of housing management.

Read more - urgent action needed

Previous reports and analysis

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In The Socialist 28 June 2017:


What we think

Step up the fight to kick out Tories and Blairites


Grenfell Tower

After Grenfell - fight for safe homes

Camden evacuation - residents expose risks - Blairites duck responsibility

Grenfell fire compounded by overcrowding: build more council homes now

Reports: organising to fight for safe homes after Grenfell

Council union responds to Grenfell


Socialist Party news and analysis

Police accused of killing cover-up

NHS secret cuts plans exposed

Barclays finally charged for having hands in till

Students 'skirt' school uniform issue!

Homelessness - Corbyn offers housing revolution

Benefit cap defeat for government

Tories may have broken election laws... again

What We Saw


Socialist history

Liverpool's 1983-87 socialist council


International socialist news and analysis

Trump and the fossil fuel corporations - a lethal combination for the planet

Jobstown Not Guilty - verdict imminent


Workplace news and analysis

Trade unions must organise to kick out the Tories

Unison conference: confident delegates take control, give Corbyn 'rapturous' welcome

Refuse workers strike against bullying bosses

"What do we want? Pay parity.


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Organise the 'youthquake'! Young Socialists - Generation Socialist

Cardiff: unity in solidarity with Grenfell

Corbyn inspires thousands at Glastonbury

To join the struggle to save the NHS

From Militant to the Socialist Party - what you thought

Pentrich Rebellion 200 years on


 

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