London Labour councils purge housing waiting lists

Housing crisis: London Labour councils purge waiting lists and resort to ‘pop-up homes’

Housing demo, London, 13.3.16, photo James Ivens

Housing demo, London, 13.3.16, photo James Ivens   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Dan Celardi, private tenant

Labour councils in London have sat on their hands as the national housing crisis grips their boroughs. Now they resort to cooking the books and ‘pop-up homes’ to cover it up.

As part of the ‘caring conservative’ image David Cameron tries to fashion for himself, he announced at last year’s Tory conference: “I don’t want you just to have a roof over your head – I want you to have a roof of your own.”

His statement has not been matched in deeds. Homelessness has gone up by a third since the Tories came to power in 2010.

The number of families living in temporary accommodation has risen by over 100%. And young people are being forced to live with our parents, or in squalor, because that is all we can afford on our meagre wages.

Camden council in north London has changed its rules to purge 22,000 households – 80% – off its housing waiting list. One of the rule changes was to allow living and dining rooms to be classified as potential bedrooms when assessing overcrowding.

Lewisham council in south London spent £4.3 million erecting 24 pre-fabricated homes as a temporary step while long-term strategies are developed. Yet with 9,000 on the waiting list, and 540 of those currently staying in B&Bs, this is a far cry from what is needed.

Cosmetic measures will not address the issue. A mass programme of council house building is needed, and rents must be capped to a democratically decided, genuinely affordable level.

Any council taking these demands forward would find a plethora of supporters in their communities – an army of activists, ready to wage a national campaign to take the money from the 1% to solve the housing crisis.

London councils’ policy of shunting homeless families out of the city has resulted in child neglect, abuse and death. According to the Independent, authorities moved at least 64,704 families out of the capital between July 2011 and June 2015. The news website reckons that councils don’t notify social services in the new area in at least a third of cases.