Saturday, April 23, 2016

Thousands march to kill the housing bill

By New Worker correspondent

THOUSANDS of Londoners marched through the capital on Sunday 13th March to call on the Government to ditch the toxic Housing Bill, which would effectively mean an end to council housing.
Amongst changes in the Bill are an end to secure tenancy agreements for new social renters, higher rents for council tenants who earn upper-middle incomes and a requirement for landlords to check a tenant’s immigration status.
The Government claims the Bill will turn “generation rent” into “generation buy” but since house prices in the capital are way above what most Londoners could ever afford it is more likely to turn “generation rent” into “generation sleeps on the streets”.
And the high prices for homes are the result of deliberate Government policy to encourage the extremely wealthy from around the world to buy homes in London not to live in but as an investment that will turn a quick profit as prices rise steadily.
It is this housing price bubble that has enabled Chancellor George Osborne to claim that our economy is going forward and he encourages it to rise with tax breaks that turn London into a tax haven for the ultra-rich.
It will have to crash at some stage because most of the buying is done with borrowed money that is creating an ocean of toxic debt that will demolish the economy sooner or later.
Meanwhile dozens of big council estates in London are being demolished and the people who used to live in them shipped out to places possibly over 100 miles away where there are no jobs – or left to sleep on the streets.
Communities and families are broken up as the estates come down to be replaced by luxury developments only the very rich can afford.
London is being emptied of the working class people who make the city work: bus and train drivers, shop workers, hotel and restaurant workers, teachers, nurses, delivery drivers. Soon the rich will be left with no services to support them.
On Sunday protesters carried banners reading “Kill the Housing Bill”, “People Before Profit”, and “You’re Heartless, We’re Homeless”.
James Murray, the Labour councillor in charge of housing in the London Borough of Islington, told Sky News that the combination of laws would “hollow out” inner London.
“It's an all-out attack on council housing. We can't underestimate the effect this is going to have,” he said. “This is going to mean that places like inner London are going to be hollowed out because homes which are considered to be high value by the Government will be forcibly sold off on the open market, meaning that the amount of homes we have to let to people on low or middle incomes will be dramatically reduced."
At the start of this year figures from the Local Government Association suggested that 88,000 homes would be lost from the social housing sector by the end of the decade as a result of the Government’s Right to Buy policy.
The number of council homes has already dropped from five million in 1981 to 1.7 million in 2014. Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said such genuinely affordable housing faced a “slow death”.
There was a lot of hostility on the march to some Labour councils, like Lambeth, who are eagerly complying with the Government aims and have privatised the management of all their council homes to the estate agent Foxtons.
On the other hand Islington, the home constituency of Jeremy Corbyn, is standing fast and has refusing to implement the new housing bill if and when it is passed.
Councillors from Islington were present on the march and rally, and very vocal in their calls to other councils not to comply.
And campaigners were handing out copies of a spoof edition of the London Evening Standard dated 11th March 2026, reporting an empty city, with David Cameron and Boris Johnson starving and desperate because all their staff had been forced out of London and they had no food.

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