Got a letter in the Standard today about the latest sorry episode in our politicians’ abject failure on housing. In case you didn’t see it or can’t read the photo, this is what it says (with thanks to my co-signatories – Rebecca Winson (GMB Young London), Rastko Novakovic (BECTU), Gleen McMahon (Tower Hamlets Renters), Eileen Short (Defend Council Housing), Alex Hilton (Generation Rent), Jacob Wills (Digs Hackney Renters)
Last Friday (28th November) our MPs had a chance to significantly improve the lives of thousands of private renters. Shelter estimates 200,000 tenants a year face eviction when they make legitimate requests for repairs. Sarah Teather MP introduced a Private Members Bill to outlaw such ‘revenge evictions’. Disgracefully, two Conservative MPs filibustered to prevent the Bill progressing, but this could not have happened if the Government or Opposition had instructed its MPs to support the Bill. Some of us wrote to our individual MPs requesting them to do so and didn’t even have the courtesy of a reply.
Nothing more graphically illustrates the gap between the lives of Londoners and our political class than the housing crisis. After years of failing to build new council homes ‘Generation Rent’ has been forced into expensive, insecure and often sub-standard private renting because there’s no alternative. Last Friday we found out that most MPs don’t care.
But Londoners are fighting back. The examples of Focus E15 Mums and New Era tenants have inspired other housing campaigns to join forces with tenants and trade unions to demand change. On 31st January the March for Homes will be calling on Boris Johnson to use public land for public housing, stop the demolitions at 50 estates currently threatened by ‘regeneration’ and support better conditions for private renters.