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From The Socialist newspaper, 18 March 2020

Coronavirus housing emergency - suspend rent and mortgage payments, seize empty homes

Protesting against the effects of the housing crisis, photo Paul Mattsson

Protesting against the effects of the housing crisis, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

David Maples, housing worker and Unison union rep (personal capacity)

It didn't take coronavirus to create a housing emergency, but it does create new issues. The Socialist has already called for workers to receive full pay and benefits.

Nobody should lose their home because of Covid-19. This means that lenders should be required to suspend mortgage payments, and landlords should be required to suspend rent payments, where necessary.

Housing benefit and Universal Credit claims should be paid in full, with requirements to re-verify information suspended. Housing benefit overpayments should be written off.

The 'minimum income floor' should be scrapped for self-employed workers.

The court process for mortgage lenders and landlords seeking possession orders and evictions should also be suspended. The government should give extra funding for local councils to set up hardship funds to compensate individual landlords who suffer genuine loss, and these should be democratically controlled by committees involving workers, unions and community groups.

These measures would also help to take pressure off frontline workers, and could contribute to reducing the need for face-to-face contact. Many councils and housing associations lack technology such as Skype or video conferencing, which should also be introduced.

Housing workers should not be torn between trying to help vulnerable households and protecting their own health.

A decade of austerity, and the lack of a fightback from Labour councils, has meant that many local authorities and housing associations have a smaller and older workforce - who will be vulnerable themselves.

And they are ill-prepared to deal with a crisis. This lack of preparedness was shown vividly with the failure to rehouse Grenfell residents in permanent accommodation.

In very cold weather, and some very hot weather, there is provision to provide short-term accommodation for rough sleepers. This should be extended at least for the duration of the coronavirus crisis.

However, many rough sleepers are suspicious of short-term offers of accommodation. What they need is good-quality, genuinely affordable, permanent accommodation, with support to manage tenancies if necessary.

As with households in temporary accommodation, this could be done by taking over empty homes, as was suggested after the Grenfell disaster. Self-isolation is a pipe dream where households are already overcrowded.

Land and building firms should be nationalised to build good quality, affordable, environmentally sustainable housing to prevent this situation arising again - to meet the needs of people, rather than profits for a few.

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Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

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In The Socialist 18 March 2020:


Workplace news and analysis

Stop Press: postal workers deliver massive strike vote and offer to become additional 'emergency service'

East London bin workers strike to get back unpaid holiday pay

Determined St Mungo's homelessness workers strike for three days


International socialist news and analysis

French local elections: CWI candidate elected

New pamphlet: constituent assemblies and the revolutionary programme


Socialist history

South Africa: 60 years marking the Sharpeville Massacre


Coronavirus

Coronavirus: workers must not pay the price!

Capitalist crisis and corona: Johnson's budget for the bosses

Coronavirus - a workers charter 2020

Coronavirus: socialist planning, not capitalist chaos!

Coronavirus housing emergency - suspend rent and mortgage payments, seize empty homes

PCS union demands better deal for benefits claimants

Councils must break austerity rules

Action needed to protect shop workers and access to essential goods

Coronavirus hospital worker: amazing response from staff - but worst still to come

'Health not profit' strike wave sweeps Italy

United States: private healthcare exposed as Trump throws money at markets

Workers at Lewisham coronavirus hospital walk out after not being paid

Coronavirus - waste processing employers putting us at risk

Bexley bin workers strike over lack of hand sanitiser

Going viral: socialist letters and comments on the coronavirus crisis

Under the microscope: socialist coronavirus news in brief


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Help us fund the Socialist

Stop gentrification of Lea Bridge

Tory student plot defeated at Cardiff uni

Nottingham uni occupation ends

Socialist Students speaking tour

Selling the Socialist


Readers' opinion

TV: Noughts and Crosses


 

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