Housing

Manctopia? Remaking Manchester for capital

The population of city centre Manchester is set to double in the next five years. 105 complexes of flats are planned. Already tower blocks, usually of little architectural merit, are being built on any available land regardless of the effects on the local environment. Where the land is not free, historic buildings are often demolished or left to rot until they become impossible to save. Until the 1990s, few people lived in the city centre. Now it is becoming “Manc-hattan”. A number of traditionally working-class areas on the fringes of the city centre are being redeveloped as part of a plan to...

Stop the evictions, pause rent bills!

In April the government implemented a ban on landlords evicting tenants. Though eviction orders continued to be lodged, none have been acted upon by the courts. This scheme was due to end on Sunday 23 August, and now has been extended only to 20 September. The Scottish government has extended the ban to March 2021. The housing charity Shelter estimates that 227,000 people are in rent arrears, which amounts to 2% of private tenants. Ben Beadle, the chief executive of the National Residential Landlords' Association is quoted in the Financial Times saying that: “The overwhelming majority of...

House the homeless, cancel rents

The government plans to cut off funding from the end of June for councils to get on-the-streets homeless people inside. More than 60 homelessness organisations have signed a protest letter: bit.ly/noone-out. The emergency ban on evicting tenants is also due to end on 25 June. The London Renters’ Union, Labour Tenants United, the New Economics Foundation and others are calling for outright cancellation of rents for at least three months: more here.

Cancel rent!

A new group, Labour Tenants United, is supporting calls for rent cancellation already made by groups like the London Renters’ Union and the New Economics Foundation. The government has legislated for a “holiday” on mortgage payments during the emergency, and looks likely to extend it. • For more on LTU, see LabourList

Cancel rent!

The New Economics Foundation has published a report (see here) supporting the London Renters’ Union for a cancellation of rent and mortgage payments (the NEF says for three months). The NEF finds that as early as 9 April residential tenants were paying less than half their rent bills. “Low income tenants who lose their job and have to rely on universal credit will in many cases see their incomes fall by around 50%”. Without rent cancellations, the easing of the lockdown will bring a flood of evictions. Commercial tenants, including big ones like Burger King and Superdrug, are also not paying...

More forced onto the streets

Tom Zagoria, Labour Homelessness Campaign activist, told Solidarity: “Virtually every local authority is reporting that for every rough sleeper they house, more new rough sleepers come onto the streets after losing their income, or being unable to stay in overcrowded accommodation during the pandemic. “Massive holes in the government’s Covid response are leading to these desperately sad stories of working-class people being left to fend for themselves on the streets during the pandemic. “We need to demand the cancelling of rent and a total ban on evictions during the crisis, including for...

We need a bigger and different public sector

Tom Zagoria, a London-based activist in the Labour Homelessness Campaign who also works in homelessness provision, spoke to Sacha Ismail. One background to the crisis is a decimation of the positive aspects of the state’s capacity. There has been criticism of decisions about the lockdown and so on, and I’m sure are lots of weaknesses there that reflect pressure from employers – but there is a wider and longer-term problem. We’ve had more than a decade of big cuts in local government and other services. There are more and more hoops people have to jump through to access services, and a great...

Covid-19: fight for workers' control

1. Requisition (in other words, take into emergency public ownership) • private hospitals, as Ireland and Spain have done • the pharmaceutical and medical-supplies industries, so that production can be ramped up in a coordinated way to meet the crisis • high finance, so that the epidemic is not compounded by a snowballing economic slump resulting from an implosion of credit • and other sectors where coordinated mobilisation is necessary. 2. Fight for workers’ control The workers ourselves, taking expert advice, should have a decisive voice in identifying and running what is essential, and how...

Pause Brexit now!

From Labour for a Socialist Europe Whatever our differing views on Brexit, the whole Labour Party and labour movement should call and campaign for the Brexit transition period due to end on 31 December to be extended significantly – at least an extra year, maybe the full two years permitted under existing rules. Even before the Covid-19 crisis, the possibility of the UK striking a deal with the EU in time looked tenuous. The Tory government has been threatening to walk away and prepare for a No Deal Brexit if the essentials of a deal are not in place by June! Now the next round of UK-EU talks...

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