Last Saturday (12th December) Hands Off Our Homes attended a national meeting called by Defend Council Housing, to help launch a campaign against the Housing and Planning Bill. If passed, this Bill would significantly worsen the housing crisis and ultimately threaten the very existence of social housing. The Bill redirects government support to private developers building publicly subsidised “starter homes” which, while they may help a few, will come at the expense of the millions in housing need who require decent, affordable and secure rented housing. The Bill also requires the sell-off of high-value council housing to subsidise the new “Right-to-Buy” for housing association tenants; introduces huge rent-rises for many council tenants; and ends secure tenancies for new council tenants including those inheriting a tenancy. See below for links to read more details.
The Bill reaches its report stage in the House of Commons on Tuesday 5th January, and the Kill the Bill – Secure Homes for All campaign will be holding a lobby and a meeting in parliament on that day. Please contact us if you can attend or want to get involved.
In the meantime, Hands Off Our Homes has written to all Leeds councillors asking them to join the campaign against the Bill. In particular, we have asked them to sign a statement of opposition to the extension of Right-to-Buy to housing association tenants, and to promote a motion of opposition to the introduction of means-testing for council tenants. Both these documents are posted on our website (see below), and we ask everyone to download, sign and circulate them, and to take the “model resolution” to their community or political group, trade union branch or other organisation. Please return any completed forms to Hands Off Our Homes c/o Ellen at 50 Kings Road, Leeds LS6 1NU, or scan and return by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
We are also asking everybody to write to their own MP asking them to oppose the Housing and Planning Bill. You could also write to the Housing Minister Brandon Lewis, and the Shadow Housing Minister John Healey. Defend Council Housing have produced a model letter which you can use for guidance (see below). It is of course better if you can use your own words, and include something about how the Bill would affect you, someone close to you, or your neighbourhood. If possible, also go and see your MP and/or your councillor in person.
You can check out details of your MP online at http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/
Councillors’ details (including email addresses and times/venues of surgeries are at http://democracy.leeds.gov.uk/mgFindMember.aspx
This Bill is an even bigger threat to secure housing than the Bedroom Tax. The only good thing is that, because it potentially affects so many people – council tenants, people on the waiting list or stuck in crap private rented accommodation, young working people who can’t afford to leave home or start a family – we have a better chance of building a mass movement behind a demand for truly affordable, decent and secure housing for everyone.
Further reading and documents to print/download: