Communists in Croydon are launching a campaign to tackle the growing housing crisis in the borough. Ben Stevenson, past parliamentary candidate in Croydon North said, “The supply of social housing is woefully inadequate, with many people ending up in sub-standard B&Bs and hostels. Years of neglect by the local Tory council, and central New Labour and Tory Government housing policies, has left Croydon with a smaller housing stock then almost any other London boroughs. Even the Council’s own Housing Strategy admits that Croydon is ill-equipped to meet housing need.”
“Local politicians are clearly failing those least able to defend themselves: the poor, the vulnerable and the socially excluded. Meanwhile, with the number of new houses being built falling to new lows, the amount of affordable housing is shrinking and prices are effectively out of reach for an entire generation. Private rents continue to spiral out of control, well above the rate of inflation, while the Tory-led Government’s cuts to Housing Benefit (HB) and Local Housing Allowance (LHA) for tenants in the social and private rented sectors, allied to high unemployment, is creating significant homelessness in Croydon.” he added
Commenting on a recent Bureau of Investigative Journalism report, Mr Stevenson said, “Instead of trying to solve these problems, Croydon council have been spending more and more money providing ‘temporary’ accommodation in B&Bs.” “Not only are the conditions often cramped and squalid, but children suffer as they have no place to play or do their homework. This is a massive waste of taxpayers’ money. We should be building homes for people. Not forcing them to squeeze in to modern day slums for months at a time.”
In parallel, London councils are rapidly accelerating the rehousing of homeless households outside their home boroughs. Croydon, by no means the worst case, has seen 911 households relocated to the borough since 2009/10. This is not the fault of these people, who are at the mercy of their ‘home’ councils, themselves under pressure from central Government, but it breaks up families, uproots people from jobs, schools and friends, and adds to existing pressures on already stretched local services in the receiving council.
Mr Stevenson said, “Croydon is facing a real housing crisis. We need to take practical steps to campaign for a significant council house building programme, a reversal to the cuts in Housing Benefit, an end to council house sales, compulsory requisitioning of long term empty properties and rent controls in the private sector. I want to invite all local campaigning organisations and housing advocacy groups to take part in a joint campaign to develop a better understanding of the problems faced by Croydon residents, raise awareness of the issues and help develop a local action plan to improve housing provision in the borough. If you would like to get involved in some way please do get in touch. And help us decide where to focus our campaign activity by completing, and circulating via your networks, the short questionnaire attached. This can also be completed on our website: http://www.croydoncommunists.org.uk
Notes to editors:
1. A new report by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, ‘The Housing Crisis’, throws a disturbing light on the scale of Britain’s housing crisis and the sharp rise in B&B spending by councils as the homelessness crisis intensifies. The gross cost of temporary accommodation in Croydon has risen dramatically from £1.4m in 2009/10 to £8.1m for 12/13, with further, significant rises projected for 2013/14. Official guidance says B&B accommodation should be avoided ‘wherever possible’. Lack of privacy, and amenities such as cooking and laundry, means it is ‘not suitable’ for families with children or pregnant women ‘unless there is no alternative accommodation available and then only for a maximum of six weeks.’
2. Ben Stevenson is 28 years old and National Secretary of the Communist Party. Since moving to Croydon from his native Birmingham in 2005, he has been heavily involved in local labour movement politics through the Croydon Save Our Schools Campaign, the campaign against the Beddington Lane Incinerator and the Croydon Trades Union Council’s Executive Committee.
3. The Communist Party was founded in 1920 and is part of an international movement involving millions of people in more than 100 countries across the globe.
4. The party plan to produce a comprehensive pamphlet on housing issues in the Borough later in the year as well as organise a public meeting of all interested organisations.