Overall benefit cap: terrorising the poor

From 7 November, according to DWP calculations, 88,000 families, each with three or more children, will 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.

There are some exemptions: where the parent(s) qualify for working tax credits (ie, work more than 16 hours a week if single, or more than 24 hours a week if a couple); where the family receives carer’s allowance, or where one of the family members is on a disability benefit. However, those in receipt of Employment Support Allowance in the work related activity group are not exempt even though they are incapable of working. Nor are single parents exempt, even if they have a child aged under three and are therefore not required to seek work.

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Hands off the Anatolian People’s Cultural Centre!

Hands off the Anatolian

At 6.30am on 6 April, the Anatolian Peoples’ Cultural Centre in north London and the homes of two activists from the centre were raided by a Metropolitan Police counter-terrorism squad. The activists were arrested and released later the same day on police bail, under which they have to present themselves three times a week at a police station; the Cultural Centre remains closed.

The Anatolian Peoples’ Cultural Centre has been in operation for 16 years. Its membership is drawn mainly from refugees from the political struggles in Kurdistan and Turkey, many of whom continue to actively follow politics in the country they have fled and to participate in legal anti-racist, anti-imperialist, socialist political activity in London. However, the Cultural Centre itself is not engaged in political activity; it has charitable status and funding from the local council, and organises community activities, such as educational courses, music and theatre performances, outings and excursions, as well as being involved in programmes to educate young people about drugs and deter them from gang participation.

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Housing for all: News in brief

Exposing Labour councils’ attacks on the working class

Throughout June and July the RCG, along with comrades from Focus E15, Architects for Social Housing (ASH) and Class War, as well as other housing activists, have been exposing the role played by Labour councils in the destruction of social housing. We joined Class War outside the Savills-sponsored London Real Estate Forum in Mayfair, where leaders of Labour councils hobnobbed with property developers to sell off the capital’s housing estates. A few days later we demonstrated outside the Hilton Hotel on Park Lane as Labour leaders from Southwark in south London and Newham in east London were arriving for a prestigious Municipal Journal awards ceremony. These are councils with some of the most appalling records on housing, environmental health and services. We took part in the Open Garden Estates weekend of 18/19 June organised by ASH in solidarity with working class housing estates opposing ‘regeneration’ projects that would see their homes demolished and replaced by private units for sale or rent, and we tracked down notorious Labour council leaders Peter John of Southwark, Lib Peck of Lambeth and Robin Wales of Newham to their power-hungry ‘Governing for Britain’ conference on London’s South Bank at the beginning of July. Whatever they do and wherever they go, we will be there to expose the real anti-working class nature of Labour councils, their betrayals and their lies.

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Housing associations: private monopolies

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Boundary House residents outside Waltham Forest housing office - the Labour-run council is guilty of social cleansing

Housing associations own or manage nearly 60% of social housing across Britain – 2.86 million homes compared to 2.05 million homes owned by local authorities. Although some are registered charities, and all claim a social purpose, they are in fact turning into monopolies keen to jettison any obligations to their tenants. They actively contribute to the housing crisis facing the working class because their building programmes all but exclude the provision of any new social housing. They aim to match their official description: private registered providers, and to become gigantic and greedy landlords breathing contempt for their working class tenants.

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Focus E15 campaign: fighting slum ‘temporary accommodation’

The latest government figures show that 51,940 households in London, containing more than 90,000 children, are in temporary accommodation –a rise of 8% since this time last year. What the statistics do not show is the increasingly appalling reality of such accommodation, as councils farm out their housing responsibilities to unscrupulous private landlords, often outside London. The vast majority of households accepted by local authorities as homeless are single mothers and pregnant women. Guidelines state that no-one should be in temporary accommodation for more than six months, yet in London more than half of households remain there for up to two years; some for even longer. The Focus E15 campaign has been exposing the role of Waltham Forest and Newham Labour councils in east London in decanting homeless families to wholly unsuitable accommodation that is unsafe, overcrowded and far from extended family, jobs and support networks.

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