HOUSING campaigners assembled in Old Palace Yard, opposite the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday 23rd November to demand that Chancellor Philip Hammond take immediate measures to address the current housing crisis.
Their first demand was the repeal of the Housing Act, which is fundamentally unfair and unworkable.
And they set out a list of demands in their own alternative Autumn Statement for homes, jobs and communities:
• Repeal the Housing & Planning Act 2016.
• Regulation of private renting to include controlled rents, secure tenancies and an end to no-fault and retaliatory evictions.
• Invest in council housing– remove the artificial debt burden and free councils to develop secure homes at social rent
• A moratorium on estate demolition– existing homes should be modernised and made energy-efficient
• Councils’ housing plans and targets must match local need for really-affordable homes for rent
• Suspend the Right to Buy
• Scrap the Bedroom Tax and benefit cuts/caps –housing benefit should cover average rents
• Housing cannot be classed ‘affordable’ if two-thirds of households in an area cannot afford it (in other words if housing costs amount to over one third of net disposable income)
• Housing associations must be subject to democratic oversight and regulation
• Genuine involvement of tenant and resident organisations and those in housing need, with support to encourage real participation in decision making and Respect the traditions of Gypsies and Travellers and provide suitable sites needed.
The protest was organised by Axe the Housing Act group and supported by Defend Council Housing, pensioner groups and many others. They did have one small victory to celebrate though – the Government has dropped the “pay to stay” plan that would have forced better paid council tenants to pay exorbitant rents.