Bristol: the fight for affordable housing

Anger at plans to develop two new complexes of totally unaffordable housing have prompted many people in Bristol to step up the fight for social housing in their city.

The developers in Easton and Fishponds, two working class and largely black areas, openly flout Bristol City Council’s own guidelines by refusing to include any social, or even ‘affordable’ housing in their plans for hundreds of new homes. Generator South West, the developers of the Easton site – a derelict chocolate factory – claim that including on-site social housing would make the development ‘unprofitable’ for them – despite the price of land in the area increasing by 25% in the last three years alone. As is so often the case, neither the council nor the company have permitted their viability assessment for the development to be made public.

 

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Overall benefit cap: terrorising the poor

This is an updated version of an article published in October/November 2016 issue of Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! (No 253)

‘We need to be heard as one, not individually – there are 88,000 of us.’ (Steve, a single parent with four children, whose housing benefit is to be cut by £70 per week by the benefit cap, talking to FRFI)

From 7 November, according to DWP calculations, 88,000 families, each with three or more children, will start to lose an average £60 per week in housing benefit because of a reduction in the Overall Benefit Cap (OBC). When the OBC was introduced in April 2013 it was set at £26,000pa; it will now be cut to £23,000pa for families living in London, and to £20,000pa for those living outside. 80% of those affected will be single parent families (67% women, 13% men). Some larger families will lose all their housing benefit. Single people or couples without children have their benefit capped at two-thirds the level for families with children: many in temporary accommodation (which can cost £250 per week) will be hit by the reduction.

 

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Savills: scouting for capital

Cressingham
The banner here was made by Andrew Cooper with young people in Brixton from threatened housing estates for a youth housing march from the centre of Brixton to Cressigham Gardens (threatened with demolition) with the RCG and the rapper Potent Whisper.

Savills presents itself as ‘a global real estate services provider’, with 700 offices and associates and 30,000 staff operating in the UK, the Americas, Europe, Asia, the Pacific, Africa and the Middle East.  It functions as a scout for international capital, identifying land and property where surplus funds can be profitably invested. In January 2016, Savills delivered a report to the British government on the future of council housing estates in London and it has been commissioned by London boroughs to survey and advise on their council housing stock and estate management. Savills presents what it claims are solutions to London’s housing crisis that have to appeal both to local authorities and expand the role of private finance in housing provision. The housing crisis and land prices provide opportunities for profits with the sale of public land that Savills and the corporations it serves cannot resist and towards which London’s councils are lured. TREVOR RAYNE reports. 

 

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Housing in briefs

Boundary House mothers fight social cleansing

Families housed in inadequate temporary accommodation, many of them single mothers, are leading the fightback against Waltham Forest Labour council and private management company Theori Housing (see FRFI 252) with the support of the Focus E15 campaign and the RCG. Having been socially cleansed from East London and now living in Boundary House, which is managed by Theori in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire they are challenging the legality of their temporary accommodation.

Boundary House was never designed to house families. Damp and cockroaches fill these bedsits, with narrow windows only a few feet from the ground, which can’t be locked and pose a safety risk to small children. Yet the Director of Housing for Waltham Forest Council says standards at Boundary House are 'legally acceptable'.

The residents are demanding safe and decent homes, and an official investigation into the suitability of Boundary House as family accommodation. They want the council to break off its contract with private management company Theori. Join the protest outside Theori on Friday 28 October, 11am-5pm, 840 High Road, Leyton E10 6AE.

 

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Who will build homes for the working class?

WalthamForest Fe15

In 1979, 42% of the population in Britain lived in publicly-funded housing; today the figure is less than 8%. One and a half million households are on housing waiting lists, while 630,000 homes in England lie empty. In the last year alone, 80,000 local authority and housing association homes have been lost to the private sector. British capitalism in crisis is no longer willing to meet the costs of state welfare for the mass of the working class. The decimation of council housing over the last 50 years has forced the poorest sections of the working class back into the insecure, substandard and overcrowded accommodation which has always characterised its living conditions under capitalism. Cat Wiener asks: ‘Who will build homes for the working class?’

Housing crisis: the capitalist norm

Today, evictions in England and Wales are at their highest levels ever; homelessness is increasing, with rough sleeping up by 30% in the last year alone, and thousands of households living in shoddy temporary accommodation. In the private sector, overcrowding, vermin, damp and cold are rife, and harassment, theft and negligence by private landlords are commonplace. The most vulnerable, such as migrants and young people, are easy prey for unscrupulous landlords renting out garages, sheds and even stairwells.

 

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