Cllr James Murray, Executive Member for Housing and Development, writes about the Tory Government's Housing and Planning Bill, and how Islington Labour is fighting back against this attack on Islington.
Fighting the Housing Bill
Let's be clear: the government's proposals in their Housing Bill are an attack on social housing, an attack on working families, and an attack on the mixed communities that we in Islington and across London are proud of.
If it becomes law, their Bill would force councils like Islington to sell off thousands of council homes on the open market – hollowing out London and putting even greater pressure on the council homes that would be left. It would let developers build less genuinely-affordable housing, whilst making the term 'affordable' meaningless by redefining it to include homes for sale at £450,000. And it would hit council tenants hard, by banning lifetime tenancies in the future and by introducing plans for 'pay-to-stay' that would potentially force families earning over £40,000 to pay up to market-level rents.
We've been fighting this Bill since its proposals were first suggested back in May last year, just after the general election. We brought to the attention of the national press the devastating effect of the forced council home sell-offs; we urged housing associations not to extend the right-to-buy and passed a unanimous council motion against their plans to do so; we've worked with other councils across London to help Labour MPs to oppose this Bill in Parliament; and we've used detailed evidence and research to argue and fight against 'pay-to-stay' that will hit working families hard.
As the government keeps pushing this Bill through Parliament, we at the council and in the local Labour party will keep fighting it. We'll use every means possible to oppose its damaging measures that will harm our borough. At the council, we are planning to hold a meeting at the Town Hall, at 6:30pm on Tuesday March 8th, that we would urge people in Islington, and especially council tenants, to attend. Come along to find out the details about what the government is proposing and to hear what the council is doing to oppose the government's plans.
We need to come together as elected representatives, members of political parties, tenant activists, and members of the public who want to oppose this Bill, and we need to fight the government's plans. If they go ahead, their plans will be profoundly damaging and wrong for Islington – we must unite to fight them.