Photo: Paul Mattsson
Photo: Paul Mattsson

Ben Goldstone, West London Socialist Party

Central West residents gathered outside their building to protest against their housing association, Shepherds Bush Housing Group (SBHG). The west London residents are angry at SBHG for rising service charges and rents, poor management, and the level of disrepair they have let the building fall into.

Their gas was stopped in June 2021, as a result of faulty pipework. Nearly a year later, they are still waiting to have it reinstated.

A resident reported they had to do all their cooking on hotplates. The building also has cladding issues.

Despite SBHG having a surplus in excess of £9 million, it still wants to raise social rents at the property by the maximum 4.1% allowed. Residents’ frustration was palpable at the protest, and the event ended with some voicing this over a megaphone.

One resident said the housing association should actually be lowering service charges, and the money should come from the super-rich and landlords – they continue to see profits climb, while tenants’ energy and food bills soar, and the quality of living plummets.

Although housing associations can come across as more ethical alternatives to landlords, it is clear they still employ the same tactics in order to exploit the working class. Council and social housing rents should not be increased. In the private sector, rent control is needed to cap rents. This all needs to be decided by elected bodies of tenants, housing workers and trade union representatives, not landlords and the ruling classes.