The Housing Bill which will be voted on today is one of the most regressive and anti-social pieces of legislation introduced by this or any government. It will kick 50,000 families off the councils’ housing waiting lists and will privatise social housing.
Section 37 of the Bill says that people who are transferred from the Rent Supplement Allowance to the new Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) will be considered to have had their housing needs met and will be removed from council lists.
This will result in 50,000 families, many of whom have been on the list for anything up to ten years, being removed from it, their chance of getting social housing taken away, and being left permanently to live a transient lifestyle of moving every couple of years and negotiating with landlords.
This is a cynical sleight of hand by the government designed to give the impression that they have acted on the housing crisis. Rather than build houses to address the needs of the nearly 100,000 families on the list, they are simply changing the criteria to be on the list in the first place.
The government are handing responsibility for social housing to the private rented sector, in effect privatising social housing.
The Bill will introduce legislation which will see the forceful deduction from the wages or welfare of council tenants any arrears owed. This ignores the reality of life and shows how far removed from reality the government are. Many families who have been crucified by austerity are often left with the choice of paying the mortgage or rent and putting food on the table, now the government are making that choice for them.
As news has filtered out about the effects of HAPS, thousands of people on the housing lists have become incensed at the prospect of being kicked off the list and what that will mean for them. In recent weeks in communities across the country, the Housing Action Group has been formed by those affected by the housing crisis. This campaign group has pledged to continue the fight against this legislation and for the building of homes. In the coming weeks they will build in more communities to gather together as many people as possible to make housing the number one issue in society and build towards a national demonstration.