Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/949/25475
The Socialist 17 May 2017 |
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One in three borrow for rent, Corbyn pledges housing revolution
Housing demo, London, 13.3.16, photo James Ivens (Click to enlarge)
Nancy Taaffe, Waltham Forest Socialist Party
One in three people have borrowed money just to pay the rent - some from family and friends; others with interest and fee-charging overdrafts, credit cards and payday loans.
The figures from housing charity Shelter reveal that of nearly 1.6 million private tenants on low incomes, around 511,000 had borrowed for rent during the past year.
And phenomena like this are not only applicable to London.
A recent Radio 4 PM programme followed the plight of two young Liverpudlians as they struggled to find a place to set up home and start their life together. It found a pattern of financiers, billionaires and oligarchs snapping up new builds and empty properties for investment, while young couples struggle to find a home they can afford.
The super-rich see Britain's inflated property market as a safe store for funds. On top of this, the head of the National Crime Agency believes organised criminals use the London property market to launder money.
Hoarding and speculation
This hoarding of empty homes by the bosses - whether gangster or legit - is coupled with decades of council house sell-offs and the abolition of rent control. The knock-on is shortage and speculation on such a scale that housing costs now bear no resemblance to reality.
But while we live through housing horror stories, we have also watched the publication of Jeremy Corbyn's election manifesto. It goes some way in attempting to right the housing wrongs of the past. Compared to what exists now, it could represent the start of a housing revolution.
Labour's manifesto includes the following promises:
- Ramping up construction of council and housing association homes to reach 100,000 a year by the end of the next parliament
- Ending the Tory ban on long-term council tenancies
- Capping private rent rises at inflation
- Making three-year tenancies "the norm" for private renters
- Reinstating housing benefit for 18 to 21-year-olds
- Consulting on new rules against 'rabbit hutch' homes
- Giving leaseholders "security from rip-off ground rents"
The Socialist Party supports these first steps in trying to take charge of housing policy and plan it for human need. We will be out campaigning for this programme to win - and for Corbyn to push it further.
For a start, we call for nationalising land, the finance sector and the big construction firms - under democratic working class control and with compensation only on the basis of proven need. This is necessary to free up the money supply and end property speculation.
We will wholeheartedly campaign for a Corbyn-led government. But if the worst happens on 9 June, we have no intention of rolling over and allowing a whole generation to be locked out.
As the Butterfields tenants and then the One Housing tenants have shown in east London, when tenants organise and fight, we can beat the landlords.