Local politicians and housing specialists in Hackney spoke out against government legislation that could slash social housing stock during a debate in Stoke Newington on March 9.
A debate, dubbed Hackney: a place to call home, gave the public an opportunity to raise questions regarding housing issues and to gauge the opinion of local housing representatives.
Central to the debate was the Housing and Planning Bill – going through parliament now – which contains measures which could dramatically reduce the country’s social housing stock.
Hackney Council fears the Bill will force them to privatise 700 newly-built council homes, forcing tenants to pay extra rent charges if their annual household income is higher than £40,000.
Philip Glanville, Hackney Cabinet Member of Housing, claimed the Bill was “an attack on the post-war housing settlement”. He said the housing crisis was a priority issue during the London mayoral campaign, due to ongoing lack of affordable accommodation within the inner London area.
Glanville said: “Our borough is second in London for building new homes and third for creating affordable social housing. However we do not get funding from the Government to create social housing.”
According to Glanville, Hackney Council is running a regeneration program, which aims to raise the overall social housing in the area to 70 per cent, He estimated that 1800 social homes need to be built in Hackney to lower the housing crisis.
He continued saying that social housing is a vital part of Hackney as it enhances the economical and ethnic diversity the borough is proud of.
Tom Copley, London Assembly member, said: “Government policies are going to lead to drainage. London will depopulate and become an expensive place inhabited by wealthy people.”
Patricia Turnbull of London Tenants Federation, said: “Every human should have a right to accommodation, regardless one’s assets.
“Social housing is very important for current people, but also for future generations. That is why tenants should take every action to protect their rights – unite, join organisations, write letters to politicians. We need to show our disapproval to governmental laws.”
At the end of the discussion the audience was encouraged to join a protest called “Kill the Housing Bill”, which starts Sunday March 13 at 12am in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, Central London.
The Housing and Planning Bill is in the House of Lords having been passed by the Commons.