Unsafe, unaffordable housing scandal: reverse council cuts, build council homes!
Michael Morgan, Coventry East Socialist Party
It is, of course, a disgrace for people to be living in unsafe and dangerous housing in order to protect the profits of property owners – and for people to be living on the streets, in the fifth richest country in the world. Yet this is a reality in Britain in 2019.
In a recent report in the housing journal Inside Housing it has been revealed that East Kent Housing failed to carry out regular gas safety checks on 544 homes.
Only two years after the Grenfell disaster mismanagement of council housing is still affecting some of the poorest in society.
The fact that these checks could save lives is not prioritised because it is not affordable for East Kent Housing to do it on time.
One would have hoped that two years on from Grenfell things might have changed – but with Tories still in power we need a mass movement, through organised and democratic residents’ associations and protests, to create meaningful change.
It has also recently arisen that councils have been tearing down ‘tent cities’ at an alarming rate. According to the Guardian, 254 homeless encampments were forcibly removed by councils in 2018.
Nobody should be living in a tent, but to forcibly remove some of the most vulnerable people in society from where they’re staying, and in some cases charge them £50 for returning the tent, is abhorrent and wrong.
In many cases, the councils doing removals are Labour councils. It is not good enough for Labour councils to willingly go through with Tory policies by punishing the most disadvantaged in society.
The rise in homelessness has not been coincidental but is a political choice by the Tories and Blairites.
They have chosen to pursue austerity at any cost. More often than not, the cost is the quality of life, safety and health of the most disadvantaged in society.
Labour councils should not be the strongmen of these policies! They should campaign against them, using reserves and borrowing powers to ensure housing is safe and to provide homes for the homeless.
A recent report by the Times said that more money is needed to tackle homelessness. Under a Tory government there is no political will to provide it.
Corbyn’s policies could alleviate homelessness if he won a general election, but we need them to be part of a programme of socialist policies that tackle poverty through living wages and benefits, and implement a mass council house building programme to provide cheap decent homes for all.