Hands Off Our Homes is busy pressing our Council to join the campaign against the Housing and Planning Act. To do this we need all Leeds councillors to hear from as many concerned tenants and residents as possible. To help with this we have created a letter for people to send to their councillors or to use as a basis for lobbying them in person at their surgeries. We hope you will take part in this action and share it as widely as possible.
Please look at our webpage (click here ) to see the letter and for suggestions about how to contact your councillors. The letter asks the council to publicly state its support for the campaign, to take steps to inform all Leeds residents about the likely effects of the Act in Leeds, and to commit to refusing to implement government policies like means-testing of social rents, insecure tenancies and sell-offs of housing stock. The briefing from Defend Council Housing see here explains more about the Act and why it is catastrophic for tenants and for the housing situation in general.
We plan to shortly to meet with a council officer to find out more about what the council’s plans are for dealing with the drastic shortage of social housing and protecting the rights of tenants (and those on the waiting list!). We think that all tenants and residents of the city have a right to be kept informed, so that we are in the best position to make our views known.
Following this we also intend to meet with council leader Judith Blake at her surgery in Middleton to discuss the council’s plans and press our demands. This lobby is expected to take place on the morning of Saturday August 6th, so please let us know if you can come along (the more the better) – especially if you live in the Middleton area.
We will be using the press and social media to publicise what we are asking the council to do, and any outcomes of our discussions with councillors. It would be great if you could let us know about any discussions you have with your own councillor or any responses you get from sending the letter. If you don’t get a response within a reasonable time, we definitely want to know that too!
As well as the Housing Act, we’ll be talking to councillors about the problems caused to tenants by the range of benefit cuts putting people at risk of homelessness by making them unable to keep up with rent payments. We all know about the bedroom tax, but we are now also looking at the lowering of the Household Benefit Cap which will affect families with children, including those renting in the private sector. Also, the phasing in of Universal Credit is expected to force large numbers of tenants into debt as they face gaps in their benefit payments, cuts to some elements of their benefits, and the difficulty of managing the system of monthly payments direct to the tenant when in many cases they are already struggling to cope on incomes that are not enough to meet their basic needs.
All these issues combined will mean that the need for Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) to prevent homelessness will be many time higher than the DHP budget (amount provided for this purpose by central government). This is likely to mean that many households currently in priority groups for DHP will find it much harder to get this essential help towards housing costs. We need to find out what the council intends to do to protect tenants from this hardship and the fear or reality of homelessness – and we will need a bigger campaign than ever to show our collective rejection of these savage and callous policies and expose the lies about social tenants and benefit claimants which are used to “justify” them.
Please join us! Our next planning meeting is on Wednesday 3rd August at the UNISON offices on Woodhouse Lane. Please contact us if you would like further details.
Best wishes to all, and we hope you are managing to enjoy your Summer!