CAMPAIGNERS and politicians marched together in their thousands against the Conservatives’ “destructive” Housing Bill this weekend.
The streets of Westminster were filled with angry protesters demanding for the Bill to be scrapped, many comparing the demonstration with the 1980s anti-Poll Tax movement.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was uncharacteristically absent from the march with a leg injury, but sent a message of solidarity through his shadow chancellor John McDonnell.
Mr McDonnell branded the opposition to the Bill “one of the most important battles in a generation.”
Fellow frontbenchers Diane Abbott and Lilian Greenwood were also on the march, as was leader of the Green Party Natalie Bennett.
Ms Abbott told the Star: “Housing is the biggest social crisis facing London at this time.
“We have to force the Tories to listen.
“This Bill is a destructive Bill and it will destroy social housing and therefore the life-chances of very many people.”
The day itself was marked by wide range of protesters, including several well known housing campaigns like Focus E15, Save Sweets Way Estate and Save Cressingham Gardens.
Protesters were particularly indignant at the Bill’s proposed sale of virtually all of Britain’s council housing stock and 400 per cent increase in rents for middle income families living in council homes — the so-called pay to stay tax.
Kill the Housing Bill spokeswoman Katya Nasim said: “The Bill is going to make the housing crisis much worse.
“By getting rid of social and council housing the cost of rent will go up, house prices will go up and millions of people are going to be stuck in the private renting sector.
“Having millions of people stuck in insecure, expensive housing an absolute outrage.”
She added that the campaign would rather see a “programme of house building, reinvestment in council housing, rent controls” and “cutting down on empty properties.
The demonstration, backed by several trade unions, finished with a rally at Parliament Square.
Protesters carried banners and placards reading: “Anti-social housing policy from the House of Ill Repute” and “You’re heartless, We’re Homeless” as they passed the Houses of Parliament.
A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said: “The Housing Bill makes sure we make the best use of social housing based on need and income, while reinvesting in building new homes.”
Christian Homelessness and Housing campaign
I think it’s a terrible injustice that people are denied housing that’s affordable and secure, so that’s why I’m here to protest against the government’s Housing Bill which is going to dismantle the social safety net of housing that we have.
We are connected to all the churches that do night shelters. The numbers are already going up.
In the last year the street counts have already gone up by a third, and that’s just a snapshot.
I have two working but homeless children, who without a family they would be on the streets.
They work hard, they pay full tax, they can’t afford to rent. I’m here for my grandchildren who are nearly nine and 10 who in a few years will need a shelter. I think this is very, very important, I think it’s criminal that we allow our governments to treat us in such a disgraceful way.
I’m from Leeds, basically a few of us set up a homeless support group up in Leeds so obviously we wanted to engage with this [protest].
So that’s why we came along. [The government will do] probably nothing to be fair. We can just carry on hoping and carry on with these days.