250,000 families living in “non-decent” homes: end slum housing now!

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)

Robert Cross, school worker, Coventry Socialist Party

A quarter of a million families are bringing up children under the age of four in “non-decent” homes according to a recent report. This is shocking, but after ten years of austerity following the financial crisis, it’s hardly surprising.

One in three homes in England at the lowest rents are “non-decent”, and the number of those homes where children under four live has gone up by 75,000. “Non-decent” housing includes homes with broken heating, damp walls and even rat infestations.

Successive government attacks on working class people have led to rampant child poverty, slum housing, and landlords “getting away with murder” unimpeded by the law or by local councils – of any establishment party. This is perhaps unsurprising when many local councillors are landlords and letting agents themselves.

I work at a school in an area which has 36% child poverty, and many of our children are homeless.

They end up being sheltered in substandard accommodation owned by slumlords, or bed and breakfasts which are raking it in from vulnerable families because councils don’t have proper homes to house people in.

The National Landlords Association responded to the study by saying “successive governments have failed the private rented sector”. But it’s tenants who’ve been failed by successive governments, because they haven’t protected tenants from dodgy landlords!

We need decent, affordable housing for all, and to get that we need a massive programme of council house building, and rent controls across the housing sector. No-one should be forced to live on the streets or in slum housing.