The True Cost of Proroguing Parliament By Kelly Grehan

Brexit has brought much harm to this country: it has brought to light divisions that we always hoped were not there, it has somehow legitimised hatred and it has, (for reasons I am not sure I will ever understand) led to circumstances which have caused us to have Boris Johnson as Prime Minister.

It has also led to the numerous other harmful policies of the government to escape scrutiny by the media and therefore the members of the public whom are not directly impacted by them miss knowing they exist.

Now we must add another tragedy to the list of consequences: prorogation has damaged Parliament’s ability to fulfil its primary purpose: to bring about legislation -all laws going through Parliament were automatically dropped when Parliament in effect, shut down on Monday.

I saw the impact of bad government legislation first hand earlier this year. I was privileged to join campaigners from the Motor Neuro Disease Association at an event in Parliament marking the publication of a damning report from the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Terminal Illness. The report found the current rule – that a person must have a life expectancy of six months or less to get fast access to benefits – is ‘outdated, overly-time consuming and demeaning.’ 60 MPs attended the event so it seemed Madeleine Moon’s MP’s Private Members’ Bill to #Scrap6Months could become law, but the proroguing of parliament means it has officially fallen. This means the hope that those diagnosed with a terminal illness would no longer have to prove they had under 6 months left to live is over. This is cruel for any person facing up to terminal illness and particularly gruelling in the case of anyone with an illness like motor neuro disease, which has no cure or treatment and for which the decline in health is rapid.

My heart breaks for the campaigners I met who worked so hard to bring attention to this situation.

Other scrapped bills include:

– The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill, which would have allowed people to divorce without needing to accuse their spouse of wrongdoing or wait several years.

– The Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill, which would have increase the maximum sentence for animal cruelty from six months to five years.

And

– The Domestic Abuse Bill which would have made it illegal for abuse suspects to cross-examine their victims in court.

With no idea if and when these bills will now come before Parliament there is now a real risk that they will be lost forever.

When people think about Boris Johnson’s first 6 weeks as Prime Minister, no doubt his losing 6 votes out of 6 will always be the main memory, but we must also, always remember the harm his cowardice in prorogating Parliament has caused by preventing progression in stopping important legislation progressing which would have improved lives.

80 Years Ago Parents Said Goodbye To Their Children To Keep Them Safe – Today Many Face The Same Awful Choice By Kelly Grehan

“They were so brave.”
“It must have been awful sending them away knowing you might not see them again.
“It would have been painful, but you would have done it; it was the best way of keeping them safe.
80 years ago Operation Pied Piper saw children voluntarily sent by their parents to live with strangers. Over 3,000,000 people, mostly children were moved from the cities where they lived to the countryside towns which were thought to be safe from the bombing campaigns which were sure to begin with the outbreak of the second world war.

The evacuation of Britain’s cities at the start of World War Two was the biggest and most concentrated mass movement of people in Britain’s history. It seems probably some people living in the places where the evacuees were taken to felt ‘swamped,’ worried for their way of life and about the impact on the schools and services they used with such an influx of people.
The children, labelled like luggage, were taken from everything they knew to places so alien they may as well have been in another country. Life in different regions was markedly different across 1930s Britain, with accents so pronounced they could be difficult for outsiders to understand and diets full of food that was unfamiliar and a way of life that was far removed from anything they had experienced.
When children did arrive in their new destination they were lined up and waited to be chosen by someone to take them home.
The thought of sending your children away to an alien land, to strangers you know nothing about sounds traumatic doesn’t it?
Then there is the thought of the ongoing suffering the parents must have endured with, sometimes, years of contact only through letter, no real control of how they are raised, no idea how they are changing physically and emotionally as they were not there to see it.
70 years on we hear stories of evacuees and their parents and it’s impossible not to feel empathy for every family split up by a war they had no control over.
…… it’s impossible not to feel empathy for every family split up by a war they had no control over.
That sentence I just wrote isn’t true is it?
Because where as I hear the sentences from the top of the page when people discuss the World War 2 evacuees I hear very different comments about those who try to get their children out of war zones around the world into safety.
“They should stay where they are and fight.”
“Any parent who would send their child somewhere they cannot protect them doesn’t deserve children.”
“Freeloaders coming here to scrounge.”
The pain of giving your child away, of sending them away from everything they know, including your love and protection cannot be imagined.
It’s a decision someone should never have to make.
Unaccompanied refugee children will have seen horrors that cannot be imagined: they have seen their homes destroyed, loved ones killed, been tortured or trafficked. They have taken long, terrifying journeys to reach safety and they will probably never see those who love them again.
Unicef say worldwide there are nearly 31 million children who have been forcibly displaced. Children under the age of 18 made up about half of the global refugee population in 2018, including many that were unaccompanied or separated from their parents – and, as such, at risk from abuse and exploitation.
But it often seems that people view these children with hatred and greet any attempts by others to help them with outright revulsion. Indeed I expect to receive some nasty messages once this article is published because every time I have commented in support of refugees abuse has followed.

The Dubs Amendment, passed in May 2016 required the government to act “as soon as possible” to relocate and support unaccompanied refugee children in Europe. Britain promised to take 3,000 refugee children. So far it’s taken 220

Currently, unaccompanied minors in Europe who have relatives in the UK can apply to join them.
It is a lengthy process, with children often waiting months or even years to be moved to Britain after submitting their applications, There are currently an estimated 30 children in Northern France and 25 children in Greece known to have been approved for protection under, the Dubs Scheme who have been waiting more than 2 months to be transferred.
Why does the thought of those children alone and displaced not fill people with horror or sympathy?
The current system of transferring asylum-seeking children in the EU to join family members in Britain is set to come to an end in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
I don’t see any outrage about this.
Paddington Bear begins with Aunt Lucy telling Paddington “Long ago, people in England sent their children by train with labels around their necks, so they could be taken care of by complete strangers in the country side where it was safe. They will not have forgotten how to treat strangers.”
Sadly, I don’t think that is true.

When My Child Acts Differently Your Judgement Can Make Or Break Our Day By Emma Ben Moussa

I’m not sure why, but all of a sudden I had the urge to write… you see I have been up all night and I’m covered in bruises and bite marks… but it’s ok because the person that does it to me isn’t doing it to hurt me, he’s doing it because he loves me and this is how he shows it.

Unusual I know but let me introduce you to Sami and hope that this may spread some awareness of autism so the world becomes a bit more understanding for him in the future. 

On the 27th May 2015 I gave birth to a beautiful second son and he was immediately different from my first, he screamed so much we were put in a separate ward, I thought wahey upgrade!

Sami was very loud, he spent most the day screaming, he could not be apart from me and my family felt very unsure about looking after him- so they didn’t and 4 years they still do not feel able to look after him for more than a few hours although they do love him with all their hearts. 

6 months in I remember shouting up at the ceiling asking what I did wrong, why isn’t he happy? (sorry neighbours). My first born had just started nursery and was a bit behind with speech and getting over excited easily, at least that’s what I thought, but despite the nursery trying their hardest to show me something was different with Aymane I was so wrapped up in my clingy baby that I did nothing. To be fair my health visitor believed Aymane was just over excited too. 

At 18 months my Sami started talking; he said ‘mum’ and ‘dad’ and even his cousins name ‘Jack’ but then within a month it was gone and he has never said a word since.

He started to try find other ways to communicate, if he wanted a drink he would throw a cup at me, if he wanted food he would guide my hand to the fridge but if there was something he wanted and I couldn’t guess it he would get so frustrated and start hitting his head on the wall or throw himself to the floor over and over again. 

At the 2 year review the wonderful NHS nursery nurse said “I’m sorry but we have some concerns here, we will come back out and visit you” and true to their word every month I saw a health visitor and the nursery nurse.

Let me thank them right now because without their 2 years of constant support I honestly don’t know how I would have coped, they were angels. 

Sami does not sleep, he just cant, maybe he will get 1 to 2 hours a night but then he’s up and when he is up, the whole family must be up.

When it was time for nursery they were straight with me from day one, Sami needs assessing. I already knew at that point that Sami was different, on the walk down to nursey he would try to run in the road, he would lick car tyre and fence posts and he would take peoples solar lights out their gardens so he could lick them. 

At 3 Sami saw a paediatrician and we sat there for half an hour, I told him about Sami not sleeping, smearing his own poo on the walls, lining up anything that can possibly be lined, having absolutely no danger awareness, not being able to talk, eating inedible objects, chewing on things that should not go anywhere near your mouth, cracking his teeth on rocks and he diagnosed him there and then:

AUTISM 

I think I cried for days, now, I feel silly about that.

Sami is a gift, a gift no one else is lucky enough to have. Sami loves me and he shows it intensely, he’s stuck to me like glue, his smile melts my heart and when he has sensory overload no one but mummy will do. You need to squeeze him so tight and block out this busy world and the feeling that I am this angels world, is one I was always treasure. 

I went to the library the following day, I read everything I could, soon it became difficult to leave Swanscombe because Sami likes routine. I believe he feels safe in his home town because Swanscomber’s are kind, they are accepting, a community I’m proud to not only belong to but have the honour of being their borough councillor.

I set up an autism play group in Swanscombe because I was tired of going out and being judged. Too many times I have had people tell Sami he’s too big for a pram and to get out and walk, or ask him what’s wrong with him.

Sami cant talk, if you get in his face and ask him questions he cant respond to, not only are you frightening him you are building up his anxiety so when he lashes out at you he’s not being naughty, he is in a meltdown.

When Sami is happy he flaps like a bird; it’s called Stimming.

He’s quite happy in his mobility buggy rocking backwards and forwards watching the trees and enjoying nature when all of a sudden a face is there, the face is talking to him, he doesn’t know you and he doesn’t know what you’re saying but the more he doesn’t respond the louder you get. Mummy tells you to please give him some space as he’s autistic and more often than not mummy gets told “oh he will grow out of it we are all a bit autistic.”

He most certainly wont!

He was born this way, he’s perfect. I feel so sorry for those wonderful autistic children who had to mask their autism to try and conform with what is seen as normal. 

Sami is now 4 and my baby is off to a wonderful special needs school in September called Ifield, where he will learn Makaton and we might eventually be able to communicate with each other.

We have a bright future ahead for him, it may not be the one I imagined but he’s getting all the help he deserves thanks to the wonderful NHS and Cygnets pre school.

My hope for Sami is that people become aware of autism, he’s not naughty, he’s not stupid.  He is truly amazing, battling sensory overload everyday! 

My eldest is my superhero, he adores Sami and sees him as special not odd and most the children around us do too, it fills my heart up seeing Swanscombe accept and include Sami.

We even get birthday invites from Aymanes friends for Sami, which is something I never thought would happen. 

Aymane is only just diagnosed with ADHD, I missed it, I never noticed because Sami’s care is so intense. I realised what Aymane’s flapping was when I learnt about Sami but his school do not see Autism in him so he just got diagnosed with ADHD.

I have one child that talks too much and one that doesn’t talk at all. I also have the most perfect children, they are my biggest challenge, my greatest achievement in life. They made me stronger than I can ever imagine. I can walk in to a council chamber with no sleep, covered in bites and bruises and think “I’m an autism mum no opposition can faze me. 

Although I have to admit I do occasionally lock myself in the bathroom just for some peace. 

My point in writing this is because, A I needed to get it out and B I would really appreciate people learning about Autism.

It’s a hidden disability, I also have a hidden disability and I find the judgement is sometimes harder than the actual condition.

If you see me being bitten by my child his not being naughty, something has made him anxious he needs to be close to his mummy, he needs to feel mummy, be completely enveloped by mummy so that he is safe again. I know it sounds strange but its part of Autism.

My boy is a superhero and I am a lucky mum.

Why Today is A Day of Celebration and Victory For People With Invisible Disabilities By Lisa Mulholland

Today is a milestone for people with invisible illnesses and conditions. Today people with invisible disabilities are finally entitled to apply for a blue badge which entitle them to use the disability parking bays.

Until today you could only apply for one if you have a serious physical disability that impedes your ability to physically walk. But now from today, you can apply for one if you have autism, or another disability that is hidden.

For families like mine this is going to dramatically improve the quality of our lives.

That may seem like an extreme statement but please let me explain.

Days out with any children can be trying. But if like me you have two children with autism; every day events and days out can be dangerous.

My two boys react to noise. They have a heightened sense of hearing, no sense of danger, and an inability to predict circumstances.

We simply cannot travel on public transport.

There have been so many times that my eldest boy has nearly been run over, fell down the gap between a train and the platform, and had panic attacks in crowds.

When he was younger I used to commute into London to work. I’d have to drop him off to his childcare facility on the way. At this point I was unaware that he was autistic.

A common daily situation for us would be where we would get onto a train and then he would panic. He would run as soon as we got on the train and need to find a seat quickly. He had to sit down before the train doors made a beeping sound to indicate they were closing. For him that sound was frightening and deafening. So for him, if he was seated he felt more able to control his anxiety about it. He would still scream but he felt contained. It wasn’t always possible to get a seat and often the trains would be crowded, so his fight or flight response would kick in and he would either start lashing out at people or objects around him to get to the seat or run into danger to get off the train.

A common occurrence would be where in his moment of panic he was unable to see the large gap between the train and the platform, he wasn’t aware that he could fall down that gap, or get stuck on the platform alone.

Many times, kind strangers have saved him by grabbing hold of him and prevented him from falling down the gap.

Another time he ran out of the station and directly into the path of oncoming traffic. Another occasion he sat on the floor in the train station frozen to the spot, and I had to get a police officer who happened to be standing by, to help me carry him onto the train as he was too scared to board. We had to cover his ears and eyes and seat him.

The list of incidences likes this is endless and it would take a good few long blogs to list all the near misses we have had.

In the end I had to stop using public transport altogether. It was too dangerous and stressful. The panic attacks became more frequent and as my son grew in size, the general public were less accommodating .

A large 15 year old who is 5ft 10 tall is rather hard to ‘grab’ and he is difficult to manoeuvre. A child of this size who physically looks just like his neurotypical counterparts and starts behaving erratically is at best going to raise a few eyebrows and at worst is going to invite some very unwanted attention. Not to mention that it is embarrassing for him once his panic attack is over and he sees everyone staring, tutting or worse.

In the end he started to refuse to leave the house and had panic attacks every time he went outside. We were house bound for a long period of time and slowly developed a significantly lower quality of social life than other families with children of his age.

So with therapy and driving lessons I slowly started to claw my life back and I started to drive everywhere .

This made it slightly easier to attend days out. But only slightly.

Nowadays we park up as close as we can, and walk to the event or venue we want to attend. This still involves walking long distances, and heavy planning to keep him and his brother safe from the road.

The noises, lights from vehicles, hustle and bustle from surroundings and crowds can be painfully scary and triggering for my autistic children.

My youngest son is more severely autistic and is still in a buggy despite being 6 as he has global development delay and has the mind of a 2-3 year old. To complicate matters more I should note that I have an invisible condition called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, which means (amongst many complicated problems) I can’t walk very far even on a good day.

Just yesterday we wanted to enjoy the summer holidays by going out into London for the day. I had to pay heavy parking fees to try and park closely to the place we visited. We parked as closely to the venue as we could, but it was still very dangerous.

And just last week I had to forego a festival due to a lack of parking. There was no parking near the festival except for disabled parking (which I wasn’t entitled to use last week) so I had to miss the event.

If I had a blue badge it would have meant that we could have parked closely and got the event safely. Instead I had to miss it and let down friends and family once again.

There are so many examples like the ones I’ve listed where as a family we have missed out on events due to not being able to drive or park there.

Over time it can really impact on levels of happiness, friendships ( people give up inviting you out if you have to cancel quite a bit), self esteem and ability to socialise: all of these things are so crucial to people in general to contribute to a healthy and happy life. For people with invisible illnesses and disabilities who already suffer from the various conditions and the limitations they bring, it is even more important that they can access events, and normal day to day things like shopping. It’s crucial that I am able to take my sons shopping to help teach them life skills, but more often than not it’s just not safe, or too stressful to do so.

But today, as I fill out my form for a blue badge and am able to tick the criteria that actually applies to us, I feel like a weight has been lifted. The possibilities for us to access the world have now increased infinitely and I am so happy I could cry.

I will be able to take my boys out on my own, without having to have another adult present, or having to worry about them walking into a moving vehicle just going to the shops. I won’t have to spend hours trying to find eligible parking and pay hefty fees or try and navigate a route that minimises the possibilities of meltdowns, or real danger to my kids.

Today I feel like our family’s disabilities are being recognised as real, and that it’s the first step to a wider acceptance of invisible illnesses as a whole.

The world is our oyster and I look forward to so many more adventures!

Collapse of Football Clubs Is About More Than a Loss Of Sport By Kelly Grehan

The scenes of Bury fans scrubbing and sweeping their club’s ground yesterday, as they awaited news it was to be removed from the football club were truly moving. Only matched by the sight of fans from other clubs who had come to lend a hand, much in the same way neighbours offer to make tea when a death has occurred: in the hope that by being useful they can somehow reduce the grief.

I used to go and watch Tottenham Hotspur with my Dad as a teen. With no personal interest in sports, it was never the actual match I enjoyed. No, for me it was the feeling when walking towards the stadium and the feeling of excitement and anticipation from everyone, I liked, the part where the teams came out to the theme music and the points where everyone celebrated or commiserated after goals I enjoyed. There was even something a bit special about walking back to the car after a result knowing everyone walking along side was experiencing a similar emotion based on the result.

Of course, I have not been to watch a live football match for many years now. Fewer people I know watch football now too, many priced out of following the team they love.

I think the beauty of English football in the past came from the fact that it gave a lot of people a place to belong and a sense of attachment to something steeped in history, in which they could share experiences, hopes, dreams and despair.

But of course, football clubs have increasingly become less affiliated to the community in which they sit. Very few people can afford to go regularly to the club which sits in their town, let alone take their whole family. The days when Saturday was all about football have also ended, with matches played on Mondays, Sundays and even Fridays now too.

It seems like stadiums are increasingly filled with people from outside of the area and with no particular interest in the club

So without local people filling up the stands in them, what do the people who would once have filled them do?

Many Bury fans yesterday described the loss of the club as akin to the loss of a friend. I think for many it is also the loss of heritage, history and the knowledge there was somewhere they would always belong. I wonder what communities experiencing this loss do to replace it. I wonder if one reason for the massive rise in mental health problems, particularly in men, is the loss of places to belong too, and the inevitable isolation this brings. In the past a lot of people would have found solace in fellow sports fans – travelling, sitting and chatting together.

The loss of this way of life is immeasurable.

RIP Bury FC

As The Only Main Political Party To Have Never Had A Female Leader, It’s Time The Labour Party Take A Look At Itself By Kelly Grehan

With the election of Jo Swinson as Liberal Democrat Leader two weeks ago, the Labour Party now finds itself behind the Conservative, Green Party, Plaid , SNP, Sinn Fein, Independent Group and even the DUP in never having had a substantive female leader.

It is unfortunate, that as the party of devolution, we can not point to having had a female Scottish or Welsh First Minister or London Mayor either. Chancellor positions have also only been held by males.

So why in, over 119 years of existence has the Labour Party failed to have a female leader? It is not as if the Labour Party has a lack of talented women, across all wings of the party.

As a party, Labour has contributed 57.8% of all women MPs elected to parliament since 1918; it champions all-women shortlists; 45% of Labour MPs currently in government are women. So why, after all this time, have we still never had a female Labour leader?

All Women Shortlists have undoubtedly been the reason for our success in getting women into Parliament. Without AWS I think it is fair to say we would not have got many of our excellent female MPs into Parliament; these women include Angela Rayner, Rebecca Long-Bailey, Sue Hayman, Cat Smith, Valerie Vaz, Chi Onwurah, Christina Rees, Barbara Keeley and Nia Griffith, Gloria de Piero, Paula Sherriff, Stella Creasy, Rachel Maskell, Jess Phillips, Tulip Siddiq, Holly Lynch, Heidi Alexander, Rupa Huq, Melanie Onn, Thangam Debbonnaire, Maria Eagle, Lilian Greenwood, Kerry McCarthy, Rachel Reeves, Shabana Mahmood and Lisa Nandy. This list makes the dull argument that AWS would lead to mediocre women being selected to make up the numbers hard to support, instead demonstrating that amazing women are often overlooked. In any case there is no shortage of mediocre men in the Commons! It is hard to avoid the argument we would have lost out on this talent without AWS.

If given a choice between a man and a woman members almost always choice a man. Why? An unconscious bias towards men remains within the party membership which must be explored and owned if we are ever to overcome it. If we are truly the party of equality we need to prove it, and be honest about what we are doing wrong.

We can see what happens without AWS in my own constituency. The last time a female candidate was selected was in 1938. Jennie Adamson won the Dartford seat too, that means that almost no one in our town has any memory of it having a female Labour election candidate!

The two women who have come closest to leading he party are Margaret Beckett and Hariet Harman, who were both Deputy Leaders and acting leaders.

Looking at their histories it is hard to see any argument that either were not suitably qualified. Beckett is actually the longest serving female MP ever. She was elected deputy leader of the Labour Party in 1992 under John Smith and when he died in 1994 she became, temporarily, the leader. She then stood for both leader and deputy leader and while Gordon Brown backed her for deputy leader in 1994, she lost out to John Prescott. She held great offices, including Foreign Secretary, but this did not stop her being labelled as a ‘Blair Babe.’ Harman is a QC and served as Shadow Employment Secretary, Shadow Health Secretary and Shadow Social Security Secretary. Despite being leader after Gordon Brown’s resignation she never stood for leader.

Writing for International Women’s Day back in March Harriet Harman summed up the experience of those who speak out about the situation:

‘If you argue for positive action, which the women’s movement in the Labour Party has, then that will be and has been resisted. If you are always pushing at barriers, you’re a productive force, but not necessarily a popular one. Those leading that charge can come to be considered too unpopular for the top job. That is an explanation, but it’s not an excuse.’

There are still men in the party who remain against women in Parliament. For example Veteran MP Austin Mitchell used the occasion of the announcement of his retirement in 2015 to complain that the influx of women MPs had ‘weakened parliament’. The fact a man thought it ok to voice such nonsense in public makes me wonder what else in being said under cover!

However, I do not think Mitchell’s view is typical of that in the party, I think the problem is more that the concept of what a candidate is in intrinsically tied up with imagery of a male for most people. It is easy for women who argue against this to be wanting special treatment.

Now is the time for the decent men in the party to be champions of gender equality, and supporters of the feminist cause. It is no longer enough to leave it to women to fight for equality. It is time for us to look at what processes can ensure this is the last time Leader, Deputy Leader and Chancellor/Shadow Chancellor are all held by men.

I think the time has come to introduce rules that make having three people of the same gender in the three top roles impossible.

100 Years On From The Addison Act and Housing Still Creates Poverty and Misery By Kelly Grehan

Today marks 100 years since the Housing Act, commonly known as the Addison Act (after the Minister Of Housing, Christopher Addison) came into force. It was, in part, a response to the shocking lack of fitness amongst many recruits during World War One, attributed to poor living conditions.

Today, we find ourselves in a new crisis where by housing creates poverty, misery and both physical and mental health problems.

Things did not have to be like this, none of these problems are inevitable. In fact, if the opportunities afforded by the Addison Act had been realised I am sure we would be living in a more equal, happy and healthy society now.

The Addison Act made housing a national responsibility, and local authorities were given the task of developing new housing and rented accommodation where it was needed by working people. The idea of that working people should be able to live in decent accommodation is an idea, I think we should revitalise.

Further Acts during the 1920s extended the duty of local councils to make housing available as a social service. The Housing Act of 1924 gave substantial grants to local authorities in response to the acute housing shortages of these years.

A fresh Housing Act of 1930 obliged local councils to clear all remaining slum housing, and provided further subsidies to re-house inhabitants. This single Act led to the clearance of more slums than at any time previously, and the building of 700,000 new homes.

In the Attlee Government, Aneurin Bevan was the Minister for Health and Housing, recognition, surely, of how closely aligned the two are. He promoted a vision of new estates where “the working man, the doctor and the clergyman will live in close proximity to each other”.

Surely the divided society we now have is marked our more by housing than any other thing.

Social housing, was a great state asset, giving the state the ability to ensure a general standard of living for the population, a safety net which no one would fall below and a means of ensuring that people had shared interests and mixed together.

Of course, it was not perfect, but it help promise and opportunity for a better world – good housing makes good health more likely (poor housing is, for example, linked to increased risk of meningitis, asthma, and slow growth, which is linked to coronary heart disease) and makes participation in eduction and leisure activities more likely.

The beginning of the decline in social housing began in 1980, with a new Housing Act forming the flagship policy of Margaret Thatcher’s first term in office. Council tenants were given the right to buy the property they lived in, at a significantly discounted price than that of the market.

One million properties were sold in the first 7 years alone. Under the Act , councils were prevented from reinvesting the proceeds of these sales in new housing, and so the total available stock, particularly of more desirable homes, declined.

Homes lost under the scheme have not been replaced in any adequate number.

The Resolution Foundation reports that English local authorities and housing associations have built only one home for every two sold under the scheme.

40 percent of council houses once sold under right-to-buy terms to their tenants are now being privately rented out. have spent £22 million yearly simply renting back the buildings they had once owned as temporary housing. has facilitated an enormous transfer of wealth from the public to private sector.

This is, in effect an enormous transfer of wealth from the public to private sector. It also sees a massive strain added to the public purse as housing benefit is paid to private landlords for the properties built by tax payers money.

The rental market, fuelled by a lack of social rents now operates like the wild west, with renters, or consumers as you might call them, forced to pay rents which have grown far in excess with the rise in wages.

The National Housing Federation says that in England, just under a fifth of households are in relative poverty after housing costs. Over half of those in poverty in the private rented sector were not in poverty before paying their rent.

Standards in the private sector are often poor, despite the high rent: 2018 study found that more than 1.3 million homes rented from private landlords failed to meet the national Decent Homes Standard. Conditions were found to get worse the longer tenants remained in their property, suggesting poor property management rather than old housing stock was the cause of despair.

A little discussed problem which is caused by the decline of the supply of social housing is the social division it has caused.

As demand for social housing grows, scrutiny of those who are awarded it grows. There is a feeling that those in social housing, with rents below market rate and stable tencies have hit some kind of jackpot. I regularly hear reports from those in social housing that they are told ‘if you don’t like it go private, if they complain about any aspect of their property. At the same time stigma remains attached to those living in social housing, as if only their address defines them.

With the risk of eviction always hanging over those in the private rented sector as well as often poor conditions it is no wonder mental health suffers.

According to the charity Shelter, one fifth of people report a housing issue has negatively impacted on their mental health in the last five years. Studies have also isolated a clear ‘housing effect’ in relation to important aspects of children’s well-being and future life chances.Poor housing conditions increase the risk of severe ill-health or disability by up to 25 per cent during childhood and early adulthood.

Were this a better country, one that had pursued policies which had led to the overwhelming majority of people living in secure, fit accommodation which remained a state asset we might well be celebrating today, as a national holiday, a day of celebration of the Housing Act of 1919 and the prosperity and security it bought to generations of citizens.

Sadly it was not to be.