The ‘new-look’ Birmingham: homelessness alongside luxury developments

Artist's rendering of the planned Iknield Port Loop development

In 2017 there were 4,297 homes in Birmingham that had been empty for more than six months, and 10,000 across the West Midlands as a whole. Meanwhile the latest figures from the housing charity Shelter's latest report show that homelessness in Birmingham has risen to 12,785 - up from just over 8,000 in 2005. Birmingham is ranked 25th nationally for homelessness, with one in every 88 people without a secure place to live.

 

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Unfit homes and profiteering landlords

In 2017 two-thirds of private tenants said they had experienced damp, mould, leaking roofs and windows, electrical hazards, vermin or gas leaks in the previous year

In September 2018, a number of Freedom of Information requests submitted by the Radical Housing Network revealed that much of the millions of pounds awarded to local councils to tackle appalling housing standards in private rented accommodation was in fact being used to fund racist raids by police and immigration officials on vulnerable tenants. Two tranches of money were awarded by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) in 2012 and 2014, to predominantly London councils, to tackle the ‘beds in sheds’ problem (where people were paying rent for living in space in sheds in back gardens, garages and stairwells) and to root out ‘rogue landlords’. Newham Council in east London received the biggest share of the fund. RHN says according to its research, the council carried out 341 dawn raids using police and UK Border Agency officials and made 400 arrests. They have boasted of targeting landlords who let to ‘illegal migrants’. RHN says that as a result of the crackdown, many tenants have been at best left homeless, at worst subject to arrest on immigration and other charges.

 

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Grenfell Inquiry: a long way from justice for survivors and families

Demonstration for the anniversary of Grenfell fire

On 1 October, survivors of the 14 June 2017 fire at Grenfell Tower and the relatives of the 72 people who died will begin to give evidence to the public inquiry. It will be their first opportunity to take centre stage in a sham inquiry in which they have been continuously sidelined. Despite repeated requests that the inquiry be moved nearer west London, the head of the inquiry, Sir Martin Moore-Bick, has insisted that the plush and intimidating surroundings of Holborn Bars in central London – seven miles from north Kensington – are the only acceptable venue. In August, the families’ lawyers were rebuffed when they complained that only 5% of the more than 300,000 documents relating to the case had been released to them. They have also been prevented from questioning witnesses directly – as Leslie Thomas QC, who represents a number of survivors and bereaved, put it: ‘Why must they be made to feel like bystanders in an investigation of their own tragedy?’

 

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Empty homes, homeless people

Focus E15 activists occupy the Carpenters Estate, Newham in 2015

Focus E15 occupied empty flats on the Carpenters Estate, Newham in 2014

Across Britain we are seeing a massive increase in homelessness, with rough sleeping up 169% overall since 2010, and thousands of families forced into temporary accommodation. While people are being evicted and pushed into the streets, more and more homes are being left empty for years on end. Why are so many people without homes while so many homes do not have people?

 

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Tories and Labour refuse to bury disastrous Universal Credit

Protest against cuts to disability benefits

In early July, Angus Housing Association began legal eviction proceedings against Ms X – a vulnerable woman living in sheltered accommodation owned by the Association in Dundee. Ms X had fallen, inexplicably, more than £1,000 into rent arrears despite arranging for her Housing Benefit (HB) to be paid directly to her landlord. Only after the beginning of proceedings, doubtless deeply distressing for her, did it turn out that DWP officials had been paying her rent directly to Angus City Council – an unrelated entity some 18 miles north of Ms X’s home. Speaking to the Dundee Courier (14 July 2018), Angus Housing Association’s Director Bruce Forbes said he was aware of ‘numerous examples of tenants’ housing costs being sent to the wrong landlord, despite the DWP being given email verification’ by his organisation.

 

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Housebuilding review denies the reality of land banking

Housebuilders sit on plots of land waiting for their price to increase

‘According to official statistics “The value of land has grown rapidly from 1995, increasing by 412% compared with an average increase of 211% in the assets overlying the land.”’

Whose land is it anyway? Housing, the capitalist crisis and the working class, An FRFI pamphlet

Sir Oliver Letwin MP has produced the Draft Independent Review of Build-out Rates for the government. He was asked to explain the time between land being acquired for housing construction, planning permission being granted and housing actually being built, and to make recommendations for closing this amount of time: the build-out rate. The final report should be delivered before the Autumn 2018 Budget. Letwin explains that concern has been expressed in ‘some quarters’ about possible ‘land banking’ and ‘intentional delay’ by major housebuilders. In our pamphlet we state that ‘Housebuilders buy and then sit on land with planning permission, but do not build in order to maximise their profits. Five government reviews since 2004 claim that housebuilders do not use land banks speculatively.’ Despite the evidence to the contrary, Sir Oliver Letwin reaches the same conclusion as the previous reviews.

 

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Broadwater Farm estate resist social cleansing

Protests against police racism on the Broadwater Farm estate

Haringey Council has announced its intention to demolish two housing blocks on Broadwater Farm estate in Tottenham, North London in the wake of reports of structural weaknesses. This follows many years of speculation about the future of the estate which was branded ‘notorious’ by the right-wing press following riots in 1985 and as the birthplace of Mark Duggan whose killing by police heralded the 2011 uprisings. In 2016 Prime Minister David Cameron proclaimed with a fanfare his intention to demolish 100 ‘sink estates’ across the country whose architecture, it was claimed, was responsible for ‘drug abuse and gang culture’. Broadwater Farm was on the list. Poverty, it was claimed, would be ‘bulldozed’. The latest plans to demolish have been decided by the newly-formed Momentum-led Labour council in advance of any consultation with tenants and with scant regard for their future.

 

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Grenfell inquiry: time to focus on the real criminals

RCG demonstrates at the Public Inquiry

Nearly a year after the fire at Grenfell Tower in west London which killed at least 72 people, the inquiry into the disaster finally began hearing evidence in early June. As the firefighters involved in battling the blaze have begun to give oral, written and video evidence, their powerful and anguished testimony has given the lie to blatant attempt to shift public perception of blame for the deaths away from the guilty and onto them.

 

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Fantasies rather than dreams - Book review

Municipal Dreams

Municipal dreams: the rise and fall of council housing

John Boughton 330pp Verso 2018 £18.00 hardback

There is no doubt that Boughton’s book is a well-researched and useful source of information. Yet like so many books on the history of working class housing it remains within an academic framework: it provides a critique of government policies which undermined public housing provision, but in so doing obscures the real cause of the current housing crisis: capitalism itself.

 

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Andrew O’Hagan’s Grenfell ‘novella’: truly a class act

The Tower: London Review of Books, 7 June 2018

The Tower: London Review of Books, 7 June 2018

The 60,000+-word essay published by the London Review of Books just one week before the anniversary of the Grenfell fire, by novelist and reporter Andrew O’Hagan, shows the kind of establishment backlash we can now expect against those fighting for justice for the 72 people who died. O’Hagan’s ‘novella’ does a hatchet job on activists and campaigners – ‘agitators’, in his words -  patronises survivors and absolves the local council and Kensington and Chelsea Tenants’ Management Organisation that oversaw the lethal recladding of the tower of blame. In O’Hagan’s through-the-looking-glass world, the council leaders are in fact the misunderstood heroes of the hour; the villains of the piece become, instead, the firefighters, campaign groups like Grenfell Housing Action and Grenfell United and,  crucially, any survivor or bereaved relative with the temerity to complain or demand adequate redress, rather than being grateful for everything that’s been done for them and their luck to have even had the opportunity to live in the richest borough in the country. Make no mistake, this appalling, dishonest, self-indulgent extravaganza is an opening sally by the ruling class to roll back the wave of popular sympathy for the victims of Grenfell and rehabilitate the council, no doubt with an eye to the public inquiry and ensuring they do not face criminal charges for their role in the murder of 72 working class people.

 

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Fighting racism in housing for asylum seekers

The government is currently in the process of retendering its contracts to manage the housing of asylum seekers. The previous COMPASS contracts, worth £1.6bn, have been replaced by the even more valuable £4bn Asylum Accommodation and Support Transformation (AAST) contracts. Massive private security company G4S has already registered an interest and submitted a tender, despite its being fined £5.6m in 2016 for the standard of the housing it provided. In November 2016 the government responded to the Home Affairs Select Committee’s report on the service provided by G4S, Serco and Clearel. The report contained damning evidence proving the inhumane conditions that these companies were providing, citing vermin infestation, lack of health care for pregnant women and inadequate support for victims of rape and torture. The government’s response to these findings was that ‘The standard of accommodation provided to asylum seekers has improved since 2012’.

 

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Grenfell one year on: a litany of failures

One year on from Grenfell, community groups are still organising and continuing the demand for justice

‘We are having an inquiry to find out what most of us already know. We are here because nobody listened and those in authority were convinced they knew better. You can’t sweep this under the carpet…Materials that are clearly dangerous are still there on buildings up and down the country… Not good enough is not the word. This is how our families are being remembered. They are being remembered by a culture of neglect.’ - Karim Mussily, addressing the Grenfell Inquiry on 21 May.

A year after the fire at Grenfell Tower in west London killed 72 people, survivors and the bereaved continue to be failed by both the local council and the British state. Of 210 households made homeless by the fire, just 75 have been housed in permanent accommodation. Many are living in cramped emergency accommodation, including hostels and hotels. No criminal charges have been brought against any of those responsible for the fire: indeed, staff from Grenfell’s criminal and now disbanded landlord, the Kensington and Chelsea Tenants Management Organisation (KCTMO), have been re-employed by Kensington and Chelsea’s housing department. The council itself – which oversaw the lethal recladding of the tower – has seen many of the same councillors re-elected in May, in an expression of callous indifference to working class lives by the wealthy voters of Kensington and Chelsea. Meanwhile, the police say their investigations will take more than a year. The public inquiry set up in August 2017 is only just beginning to hear evidence. It is a charade set up to shield the guilty and postpone any chance of justice for those whose lives were devastated by the fire last year.

 

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Castles in the air: Labour’s social housing policy review

Protesters march against Labour social cleansing

The housing crisis is one of the biggest issues facing the working class in Britain today. Social housing has been decimated over the last 50 years by the policies of Conservative and Labour governments alike. The dearth of affordable and secure housing has driven millions of people into the private rented sector, where one in five homes is unfit for human habitation and soaring rents force those on low incomes into ever-deeper poverty. Private rents average 35% of take-home pay. Evictions and homelessness are on the rise.

 

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Fight social cleansing by Manchester City Council

Labour-controlled Manchester City Council is actively promoting a city-wide policy of social cleansing. Its complicity in allowing developers to shrug off affordable and social housing commitments was recently profiled by The Guardian (‘The 0% city: how Manchester developers dodge affordable housing’, 6 March 2018). The article details how between 2016 and 2017, of 61 housing developments approved by the council – totalling 14,667 flats, apartments and houses – none will contain any social housing or even any units available at the more expensive ‘affordable’ level. Just 62 properties will fall under the ‘shared-ownership’ scheme – but these will be well away from the city centre. Twenty-seven will be in Openshaw – Manchester’s most deprived ward and in the top 1% of deprived areas in England, with others located in Gorton (where the Channel 4 series Shameless was filmed) and Moss Side. Meanwhile, the council itself is developing nearly 700 apartments in partnership with the wealthy Abu Dhabi United Group: all will be for sale or rent at market rates.

 

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Housing in briefs - FRFI 263 April/May 2018

24 March 2018: Focus E15 celebrate on the streets of Newham after Robin Wales is deselected as the Labour candidate for Mayor of Newham

Newham People’s Charter holds council candidates to account

So farewell then, Robin Wales… On 16 March, after 23 years in power, first as Labour leader of the council and then as Mayor of Newham in east London, Robin Wales is finally being forced out of office. He lost to Labour’s alternative mayoral candidate, Rokhsana Fiaz, by 503 votes to 861.

The next day, RCG comrades joined jubilant members of the Focus E15 campaign on a victory tour of Newham aboard an open-topped bus, despite the snow. Focus E15 campaigners have particular reasons to celebrate Wales’ ignominious downfall. This is the Labour leader who dismissed the young mothers who came to him in 2013 when they faced eviction from their hostel with a contemptuous: ‘Well, if you can’t afford to live in Newham, you can’t afford to live in Newham’. This is the Labour leader who attempted to physically assault one of the young women campaigning at the Newham Mayor’s Show, and set his goons on activists handing out leaflets. This is a victory for all those who have campaigned for so long to get him out.

 

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‘Neglected, isolated, abandoned’: Grenfell survivors still failed by rotten state

The RCG demonstrates outside the Grenfell Public Inquiry hearings at Holborn Bars on 21 March 2018

Yo, Theresa May, where’s the money for Grenfell?

What, you thought we just forgot about Grenfell? You criminals,

and you got the cheek to call us savages,

you should do some jail time, you should pay some damages,

we should burn your house down and see if you can manage this.

- Stormzy at the Brit Awards, February 2018

On 22 March, the Housing and Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid, admitted that the government would fail to meet its pledge to permanently rehouse all the survivors of Grenfell Tower within a year of the fire that killed at least 72 people on 14 June 2017. He blamed the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) for ‘unacceptable delays’. Nine months after the fire, of 209 households made homeless, only 62 have been moved into permanent accommodation. 82 households, including 39 children, are still living in inadequate and often unsafe emergency accommodation. It has emerged that the council has spent nearly £21m on hotel bills for survivors since June 2017 – three times what it cost to build Grenfell Tower in the first place. Will Harney and Fred Carlton report.

 

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London’s housing crisis – a handbook for the petit bourgeoisie

minton

Big Capital: who is London for? Anna Minton, Penguin Books 2017, £8.99

‘If the price of food had increased at the same rate as house prices in the UK over the last 40 years, then today a chicken would cost more than £50 – or £100 in London.’

Anna Minton’s description of the housing crisis gripping Britain, and particularly its epicentre, in London, is punchy and comprehensive, bringing together a wealth of existing research, punctuated with her own interviews and anecdotes in a short and affordable paperback.

 

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Housing in briefs - FRFI 262 February/March 2018

SouthwarkLatinx

Elephant & Castle: the fight against social cleansing

On 16 January, community organisers, traders and residents of Elephant & Castle in south London won a signficant victory as Southwark council’s planning committee voted 4-3 against accepting redevelopment plans that included demolishing the shopping centre and London College of Communications campus. The vote came after a seven-hour debate late into the night, as more than 200 objections to the application by offshore developer Delancey were put forward; outside the meeting, protesters who had marched to the town hall from the Elephant occupied the foyer making their opposition to the plans equally clear.

 

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Grenfell Fire: The fight for justice must intensify

grenfell silent march feb 2018
Grenfell silent march, 14 February 2018

Over seven months on from the Grenfell Tower fire, there is still an appalling lack of progress in achieving justice for its survivors, and in addressing the vital questions the disaster raises. The vast majority of households made homeless by the fire are still yet to be rehoused in permanent accommodation. No criminal charges have been brought against the local council, the Kensington & Chelsea Tenants Management Organisation (KCTMO) board, or Rydon, the contractor awarded £8.7m to carry out the lethal refurbishment of Grenfell Tower. The Public Inquiry has been delayed again, its legitimacy in tatters. Jack Lukacs reports.

 

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Why housebuilders make extortionate profits

extortionate profit 

Governments have repeatedly looked to housebuilding firms to solve the housing crisis in Britain. They are part of the crisis and profit from it; they are not the solution. Average house prices in Britain have doubled since 2000. Eight developers build over half of the country’s houses. A study by Sheffield Hallam University found that in 2012-2015, the biggest private housebuilders increased construction by a third, but tripled their profits. The four biggest housebuilding firms in Britain are Persimmon, Taylor Wimpey, Barratt Developments and the Berkeley Group. The returns made on the capital they invested in 2016 were Persimmon 39.4%; Taylor Wimpey 30%; Barratts 27.1% and the Berkeley Group 41.1%. These are relatively high rates of return. Together, the four chief executives of these companies paid themselves over £30m in 2016. In 2017, five directors of Berkeley Group got over £3m each; Persimmon’s chief executive is in line to receive a bonus of over £100m. Trevor Rayne reports.

 

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The New Poverty – a return to the old poverty

9781786634634 6095f49959df24b4e75f0344fe705a8a
The New PovertyStephen Armstrong, Verso 2016, 242pp, £12.99

By 2020 18% of children in Britain will live in absolute poverty. Two thirds of families living in poverty are in work. Nearly one million people work on zero-hour contracts. These are the facts that are printed on the front cover of the book The New Poverty by Stephen Armstrong, who has gathered data from various studies and reports and integrated this with the real-life stories of people living through this ‘new poverty’.

 

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Action in solidarity with Grenfell survivors

On 22 November, the Revolutionary Communist Group held its third public meeting since the devastating fire at Grenfell Tower in June this year. The meeting was held at the Maxilla Social Club in north Kensington. This venue has opened its doors to every kind of gathering for the last six months and we would like to thank Joe Walsh for his kindness and support.

Of course, this is not the only meeting place. Notting Hill Methodist Church is a centre of support for the neighbourhood. So too is a large area under the railway bridge and Westway overpass, opposite the burnt-out Grenfell Tower. This has been cleaned and furnished as a permanent social space. It was established by local people as an area of remembrance and for candle-lit vigils. It has a huge Wall of Truth with statements from the community, a Garden of Remembrance, refreshments, seating, warm clothes, pianos and a library as well as an altar and several large and beautifully painted murals.

 

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Haringey Labour ‘left’ fails to dent progress of HDV

hdv haringey

The judicial review of the Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV) started on 26 October 2017. HDV is a private joint venture between Haringey Council in north London and Australian developers Lendlease to parcel up vast tracts of council-owned land and assets worth £2bn for private development. A final ruling is expected before the end of the 2017.

The local StopHDV campaign initiated the judicial review, questioning the way that the HDV was set up. Thousands of council homes and public resources, including Wood Green library, would be lost under the plan. There has been no meaningful consultation with local residents: the Labour council has made it clear it will ignore Jeremy Corbyn’s call for them to be balloted over redevelopment plans.

 

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Racism permeates housing at every level

racism letting agencies

The systemic racism which Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) people1 face throughout the housing sector in Britain is typically not reported. When racism does receive media attention, it is often only the prejudices of private landlords which are judged to be of public interest. Media outlets followed the story of the notorious Fergus Wilson, owner of hundreds of properties in Kent, who recently lost his court case against the Equality and Human Rights Commission for instructing his letting agents not to accept Indian or Pakistani applicants (Sky News, 8 November 2017). A three-year injunction was handed down – a slap on the wrist. But discrimination by landlords is only part of the story, as shown by the government's own Race Disparity Audit, published in October 2017.

 

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Rotten Boroughs - Newham Labour council leads the way

rotten boroughs

Newham Council in east London – where the Focus E15 campaign is based – has been run by Labour for the last 50 years, since the borough was formed. It is now, according to Debt Resistance UK, the ‘debt capital’ of Britain.

Research published by Debt Resistance UK shows that in the last five years, total financial council reserves have risen 67% across the capital. Meanwhile, the number of people forced off housing benefit has risen by 20%, and there has been a rise of 250% of people being placed out of borough for housing and a 230% increase in street homelessness.

 

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Grenfell Fire - Getting away with murder

grenfell council

On 6 November 2017 the task force set up by the government in the wake of the appalling fire at Grenfell Tower in west London published its interim report. It is scathing in its criticism of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) which, it says, completely ‘failed its community on the night of 14 June and the months following’. It describes a historic relationship between the council and the working class community of north Kensington as at best ‘distant’ and at worst one of neglect, and says that this is reflected in the continuing poor treatment of survivors and the wider community. Most of all, the report lambasts the ‘painfully slow’ rate at which survivors of the Grenfell fire have been rehoused. By the beginning of November – nearly five months after the fire – just 26 households had been found permanent homes. The vast majority of the remaining 177 households, including 226 children, are still stuck in woefully inadequate emergency accommodation – B&Bs, hostels and hotels; a few dozen are in temporary housing. Jack Lukacs reports.

RBKC still has most of its near £300m reserves in the bank. No criminal charges have been brought against any member of the council or the management organisation that oversaw the cut-price and lethal refurbishment of the tower, and the public inquiry into the disaster has pushed back the date at which it expects to publish an interim report still further into 2018. Any form of justice for the Grenfell survivors seems as far away as ever. The local community has from day one been just about the only force to organise consistent support, counselling, art projects and legal assistance for survivors – but political support for their demands seems to have melted away. Kensington and Chelsea council and the KCTMO are being allowed, quite literally, to get away with murder.

 

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Universal Credit - bleeding the poor

universal credit

Universal Credit (UC), the government’s flagship welfare reform, is now being rolled out to over 105 local council areas, roughly a quarter of local authorities – hitting all new claimants with a minimum five-week waiting period for any pay out, reduced from six weeks by the Autumn Budget. This not only affects those leaving school or work who require a new payment of Jobseeker’s Allowance, but people who have been receiving benefits to subsidise their poor wages and extortionate housing costs, who have or will be transferred onto the new welfare regime. For these people, all of the benefits they were previously entitled to – including housing benefit – will be suspended until their new UC claim is validated. LUKE MEEHAN reports.

This gap in payments has already led to a marked increase in food poverty and mounting rent arrears – with research by the Trussell Trust reporting an unprecedented surge in the use of foodbanks in areas where UC has been implemented, and Freedom of Information requests in September 2017 revealing that roughly half of claimants were at least a month behind with their rent, and thus at risk of eviction. Further research by the Resolution Foundation has indicated that 57% of claimants have been forced to borrow money while waiting for their payments to come through, meaning that repaying interest on loans will join rent arrears in eating into the little money they eventually receive.

 

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Why we must fight to save Ledbury Estate

Ledbury Estate

The Ledbury Estate consists of four 14-storey towers, and some low-rise housing, on the Old Kent Road in Southwark, south London. The blocks are made of large concrete panels faced with Norfolk flint and were built between 1968 and 1970 in a style known as ‘brutalist’. Most of the flats and houses are council tenancies, with a few leasehold properties. The estate is in the middle of an area designated for regeneration by Southwark Labour council, dependent on the extension of the underground in the next 20 years: Ledbury Estate will be next to a tube station. This will make the estate very attractive to private developers, keen to attract investors and to house middle-class Londoners who can’t quite afford to live in central London. Its present working class residents will have to move out.

Southwark is notorious, along with many other London councils, for its programme of destruction of council estates. Large estates, for example Heygate and Aylesbury estates at Elephant and Castle, have been sold for private development at bargain basement prices. The demolished council homes are replaced by ‘luxury’ accommodation unaffordable to local people. This is the latest form of social cleansing favoured by London Labour councils. The north of the borough, already served by underground stations and closest to central London, has become a developers’ paradise. Local people, shops and traders have been driven out. The Ledbury Estate, now occupying a ‘prime site’, is the latest estate to come under threat and will be a testing ground for Jeremy Corbyn’s radical promises on housing made at the Labour Party Conference.

 

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Salford Labour council – public cuts, private profits

Salford’s Labour council presides over a city of ever increasing disparity. While it touts projects such as Media City UK as glittering jewels, a combination of a lack of social housing provision and cuts to public services have left 25% of children living in poverty, and 70% of the population living in areas that are classified as ‘highly deprived’.

Rather than tackle these issues, the council has continued at full pace with the demolition of affordable housing to make way for private developments. A publicly-subsidised development in Pendleton has demolished 800 social homes to make way for a 1,500-home construction of which only 500 are categorised as ‘affordable’; this will place an additional 300 households on Salford’s waiting list, which stood at 14,000 households at the start of 2017. Meanwhile £22.5m from the Greater Manchester Housing Fund - government funds intended to ease the housing crisis – have been used in the Black Friar construction which is now being touted to private property developers.

 

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Young workers bear the brunt of capitalist crisis

Many working parents aren't earning enough to support their families adequately
Many working parents aren't earning enough to support their families adequately

Ten years after the global financial crash, capitalism is proving incapable of providing adequate living standards for the mass of the working class in Britain. An annual report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) shows that the burden of the crisis has been heaped onto the poor, and young workers in particular. In contrast, the amount of national income taken home by the top 1%, or households with annual incomes of £275,000 or more, has risen from 7% to 8.5%, meaning they have recovered the ground they lost in the aftermath of the last recession. According to Living standards, poverty and inequality in the UK: 2017, median incomes are at record levels; the ONS says the wealthiest tenth of households in Britain own 45% of the nation’s wealth – the poorest half just 8.7%. This vast inequality accompanies stagnant poverty rates; relative poverty* is 22%, representing no improvement since 2000-01. Matt Glass reports.

On 22 September, Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May boasted that ‘employment – people in work; people taking home a wage, a salary, to support their family – is at record levels, the highest levels since records began’. With unemployment at 4.3% in May-July 2017, this is technically true, but in-work poverty is also at a record high. In 1995-96 45% of non-pensioners in relative poverty were in a working household. This has risen to two thirds. In 1990, 20% of children in working families were in poverty. That figure stands at 24% for 2015-16.

 

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No more Grenfells - Fight for social housing

justice for grenfell demo

The narrow terms of reference for the Public Inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire, and the attempts to sideline and intimidate survivors, reveal that the government has no intention of seeking justice for those who have lost everything. As ever, those with wealth and power will continue to protect their own interests no matter the cost to the working class. The result of their tireless pursuit of profit will be further insecurity, poverty, homelessness and death. The public inquiry is designed simply to demoralise, demobilise and exhaust those fighting for justice, against austerity, and for social housing. Jack Lukacs reports.

 

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