Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/709/14139
The Socialist 15 March 2012 |
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Housing crisis in London
Forced out - fighting back
Suzanne Beishon, London Youth Fight for Jobs
It has been revealed that the number of people sleeping rough in England has grown by more than a fifth in the past year.
In the same period homelessness has jumped 14% nationally and in London that figure is even higher at 36%. In fact in seven London boroughs homelessness has doubled in a year!
Hidden away in the report of those figures, was the fact that as a result of job losses there has been a 44% increase in households who are homeless after repossession.
While wages have stagnated or been cut and jobs have been slashed, rents have risen 8% since 2009 reaching a record high at the end of 2011, meaning a bigger and bigger proportion of what we earn is spent on rent and other housing costs.
One survey showed that 30% of Londoners say they expect to be driven out of the capital by the high cost of housing and more than one million people in London were relying on credit and payday loans to help pay their rent or mortgage in the last 12 months.
David Cameron has stated that lower housing benefit limits are forcing landlords to reduce rental levels. Using freedom of information requests of every English council an Inside Housing survey found his claim does not stack up.
Of 204 authorities to respond, just 36 reported any rent reductions in return for direct payment of local housing allowance (LHA).
In reality, many landlords in the London boroughs where renting is cheaper actually see an opportunity to push rents up as people flood into those areas after being priced out of others.
200,000 people could be forced out of the capital. In London Youth Fight for Jobs, linking up with trade unions, has launched Forced Out - Fight Back to campaign against these issues.
The campaign has already been debating with Grant Shapps, the Tory housing minister, on Twitter (follow @LDNForcedOutYFJ).
The campaign is also active at universities around London. Many students have horror stories about housing - one young woman told us that she was paying £300 a week for a room in a shared house!
Youth Fight for Jobs campaigns for:
- All housing and housing benefit cuts to be reversed
- Rent to be capped at a genuinely affordable level
- After the Olympics, the infrastructure should be used to benefit the low-paid and young
- A mass house-building programme and renovation scheme should be used to create jobs and apprenticeships on trade union pay rates
- Banks and building giants should be forced to provide cheap, no or low interest mortgages. If they refuse we demand they should be fully nationalised and run to meet social need
London housing campaign launch meeting
Tuesday 17 April, 7pm
ULU, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HY
Supported by Unite 1111 housing workers' branch
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for leaflets and to get involved