This lengthy piece from the (thankfully) resurrected Yellow Advertiser deals with a council report on the issue of child homelessness in Basildon: ‘Broken’ housing market leaves Basildon with one of UK’s worst child homelessness rates, says council. It places this in context, covering the loss of stock due to the ‘right to buy’, the loss of properties used for temporary accommodation due to estate re-development and last but by no means least, the use of housing stock by London boroughs to house their homeless.
This is what the leader of Basildon Council, Cllr. Gavin Callaghan (Lab) had to say on the issue of London boroughs in bidding wars to secure private rental properties for their socially cleansed homeless: “We have seen cases, in houses where Basildon residents were staying but there was a private landlord, where those residents were thrown out of those homes because the landlords were going to rent the properties to London boroughs instead. We have tried to incentivise landlords to rent to Basildon residents. We have offered incentives of up to £1,000. London boroughs, however, offer the landlords £6,000 – plus a higher rent every month, because the housing allowance for London boroughs is higher than it is in Essex by hundred pounds a month.”
Another aspect of what London boroughs are doing is using former office blocks that have been converted by developers to cramped housing units that don’t meet the minimum standards that apply to other developments. To combat this, Basildon Council are in talks to buy Acorn House, the former home of the Yellow Advertiser, to convert it and use it for homeless residents from Basildon: EXCLUSIVE: Basildon Council set to buy office building in bid to block homeless from London boroughs.
Understandably, local residents in Basildon, particularly those on the housing waiting list, will see the above as a positive move. The problem is that Callaghan is setting up a bit of a false conflict here in laying the blame on ‘London boroughs’ in contributing to Basildon’s housing problems. As we have pointed out many times before, many of the London boroughs exporting their homeless residents out here are in fact, Labour controlled. These Labour controlled boroughs are just as culpable as their Tory and Liberal Democrat counterparts in the project of making London a welcome home for the global super rich while clearing out as many of their working class tenants as they can get away with. For the record, this piece has links to pretty much everything we’ve ever written on the issue of social cleansing from London: Getting booted out of London.
For presentation purposes, it suits Basildon Council to blame ‘London boroughs’ for exacerbating the housing crisis in London. Given the links Callaghan has to property development interests responsible for ‘regeneration’ projects in London that contribute to social cleansing from London – What a tangled web they weave – we can definitely see why he’d rather play the blame game than have a truly open and honest discussion about the issue!
Here we have the elephant in the room – the role Labour run boroughs in London play in exporting their homeless out of the capital. May we suggest to Callaghan that he has a word with his Labour colleagues in boroughs such as Newham and Harringay, to name just two out of many, about their role in the social cleansing of London. Stop the divisive blame games and either develop a housing strategy for all (well, there’s no harm in asking) or get the f**k out of the way! We’ve said this before and we’ll say it again – the housing struggle is one, unified fight and we’ll call out any attempt to deflect people’s attention away from the root causes of it by resorting to blame games.