Harrogate Socialists were campaigning in the town centre yesterday against the deepening housing crisis in the district. Almost 2000 people are on Harrogate’s council house waiting list and 60 households are in temporary accommodation. Private sector rents continue to increase while the average house price in Harrogate is now 12.5 times higher than the average income.
The scale of the housing crisis was reflected in the response to our campaign stall and petition. One woman who supported our stall was paying £800 per month in rent for a house with increasing structural problems caused by damp. Her landlord has labelled her a “troublemaker” for raising complaints and is refusing to deal with the problem.
The response of Harrogate Borough Council to the crisis in the district is to build a total of 2 new council houses! This is in spite of council housing stock shrinking by 3,384 homes (47%) due to the right-to-buy legislation. In the recent elections, there was much hand-wringing from the establishment parties over the need for “affordable” homes. However, what “affordable” actually means and how any new housing will be funded was never defined.
From a socialist perspective, dealing with the housing crisis effectively means rejecting reliance on the capitalist market. Under capitalism, the housing market is nothing more than a cash cow for the rich. The re-election of the Tories will see the extension of the ‘right to buy’ law to 1.3 million tenants in housing associations. Many of these sell-offs will no doubt end up in the hands of private landlords, as happened with council house sales.
The Socialist Party are campaigning on the following policies to end our housing crisis:
- Cap rents – introduce a private sector rent cap. A compulsory register should be set up for private landlords. Democratic rent councils should determine fair rents in every area and stop landlords overcharging tenants
- End subsidies to private landlords – private landlords receive subsidies from the taxpayer of nearly £27 billion a year. That’s £1,000 for every household in the country! Over £9 billion of housing benefit goes directly to landlords.
- Build council housing – scarcity of affordable housing is an ideal environment for bad landlords. Councils in England are sitting on enough brownfield land to build a million decent council homes. The ‘big four’ property developers are sitting on enough land to immediately build 1.4 million homes.
- Nationalise the giant construction companies – Nationalising brownfield land and the biggest construction companies would enable high quality council homes to be built on an environmentally sustainable basis
We say – don’t mourn over the election results! Join us and fight for a socialist alternative to austerity!
If you would like to find out more about the Socialist Party, contact harrogatesocialists[at]gmail.com
Harrogate Socialist Party – forthcoming branch meetings
Tuesday 2nd June – Save our fire service! – the fight against the Fire Cover Review in North Yorkshire
Speaker: Simon Wall (Brigade Chair, North Yorkshire Fire Brigades Union)
Tuesday 23rd June – The case for a republic in Britain
Speaker: Mark Sutton (Republic campaign group)
Tuesday 7th July – Socialism in the United States
Speaker: Manny Dominguez (Leeds Socialist Party)
Meetings start at 7.30pm. All welcome!
Note that we now have a new venue for meetings: St. Robert’s Club, Robert Street (opposite Waitrose), Harrogate, HG1 1HP
Knaresborough street stall, Saturday 23rd May
Harrogate Socialists are holding a street stall in Knaresborough on Saturday 23rd May on housing. We are meeting at 11.00 in the Market Place. All welcome!