One hundred years since the famous Glasgow Rent Strike of 1915 and we’re still battling the same housing crisis.
One hundred years ago the Glasgow rent strikers won the right to rent regulation and council housing. In the last thirty years we’ve lost those rights. Rent regulation was abolished by the Thatcher government and council housing was decimated by the Right to Buy and is now to be sold off to pay for another right to buy for housing associations.
Today, like then, we see a growing swell of housing protests. An alliance forged by the austerities of insecure housing, benefit cuts and rocketing housing costs is uniting social housing tenants, private tenants, and homeless people in resistance to eviction, the squatting of empty housing and direct action against property speculators.
Inspiring groups like Focus E15 have crossed the boundaries of tenure between social housing and the private rented sector to campaign for security and affordability for all tenants. Campaign groups like Housing Action for Southwark and Lambeth help resist evictions and advocate on behalf of homeless people seeking council re-housing.
Neighbourhood plans in England are creating new lines of political conflict in the relationship between central and local government.
The new Housing and Planning Bill (2015) grants neighbourhood planning areas a right of appeal to the secretary of state in cases of disagreement with the local authority. In addition urban neighbourhoods that have a designated forum will get the right to be consulted over planning applications.
These new powers bear witness to the antagonism that has developed between many neighbourhood planning groups and their local planning authority. The legislation is also evidence of government intention to establish the neighbourhood as a new political identity that can be used to circumvent or circumscribe the power of local councils. The neighbourhood is emerging as the potential ally or pawn of central government in its fractious relationship with local authorities. Continue reading
1.Wrongly expected the volume builders to deliver for housing need
Volume house builders won’t solve the housing crisis
The government expects the volume house builders to deliver the 240,000 extra homes we need each year. And it has cleared every obstacle to ensure the house builders get the land they need and the profits they want. But the private sector has never built much more than 150,000 in any year and it is against their market interests to increase supply. Continue reading
Starter homes costing £250000?
So the promise of 200,000 starter homes will be fulfilled by ending affordable rented housing on private developments. Instead the Prime Minister has announced that developers can meet their planning gain obligations (known as S106 agreements) by building discounted homes for market sale. These so called affordable homes can cost up to 80% of market price up to a cap of £250,000 outside London. Once again the government has demonstrated its complete misunderstanding of the role of the volume house-builders. These private companies are not in business to meet housing need. Continue reading
Garden cities figure prominently in government aspirations for house-building these days. They seem to be the politically acceptable face of New Towns. While garden cities have establishment support, the only really practical solution to the housing shortage – more council housing – is still political anathema. So it is worth knowing that garden cities and council housing share the same origins and are linked by the same ideals. In this article I report on the utopian movement that created the early garden cities and inspired the first council estates. Continue reading
In this post, I explore the traditions of self-management and community control behind the rise of neighbourhood planning in England.
The desire for autonomy, for self-organisation and self-management, has been a persistent thread in the history of community action in England, as it has been in social movements across the world. The foundation of self-governing communities by religious and political dissenters in the 16th and 17th Centuries found reflection in the co-operatives, communes and mutual aid societies that signalled the making of a working class movement, and the tradition of informal settlements and community self-build that has continued into the present day. This tradition of dissident autonomy has been consistently captured and incorporated into the institutional processes and structures of the state and the market relations of capital. In its manifestation as an active and engaged civil society it has been enlisted in the privatisation and outsourcing of public services, the fragmentation of organised labour, the policing of behaviour, and the rejuvenation of moribund hierarchies through the assimilation of local knowledge. Promises of territorial autonomy made to community organisations provide the populist accompaniment to the commodification of the local as the base unit of a reordered society; a self-governing entity liberated by the dismantling of welfare systems and the de-regulation of markets. The autonomous neighbourhood is a potent symbol for the cause of liberalism and for its dissenters. It remains a site of potential conflict over definitions of freedom and empowerment. Continue reading
Should generation rent look to the rent strikes and tenant protests of the past ?
With the launch of his new book about the Tenants’ Movement, Leeds Beckett author and lecturer in housing studies, Dr. Quintin Bradley looks at the pressures on ‘generation rent’ and the emerging signs of a mass popular campaign around the issues of affordable quality housing.
There are growing signs of popular protest in this country against the injustices of what the housing charity Shelter calls a ‘broken’ housing market. House prices are rising seven times faster than wages and an increasing number of households now find themselves shoehorned into private rented accommodation that is substandard, overpriced and largely unregulated.
For ‘Generation Rent’ there is little hope of anything better since house price inflation continues to force them out of ownership and the number of quality, well-managed homes in the social rented sector keeps on declining. The campaign group ‘Priced Out’ expresses the anger of a generation that has had the housing ladder kicked away from under them. Protests and demonstrations have been held outside rental agencies that appear particularly exploitative. Continue reading