Isn’t It Time We Made Homes Fit For Human Habitation? By Kelly Grehan and Lisa Mulholland

The second reading of Karen Buck MP’s Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation and Liability for Housing Standards) Bill is on January 19th 2018.

We can hardly believe that, in the 6th richest country in the world, in 2018 it is necessary for such a bill to be raised.  

It is astonishing that such a protection is not already in existence for tenants. Tenants have no avenue for redress or means of compelling landlords to make repairs or even secure the safety of the property.

The Bill would empower tenants by giving them the right to take their landlord to court if they fail to take action to resolve a problem.

There are currently around one million rented homes with hazards that pose a serious risk to health and safety. This affects over 2.5 million people.

You might think that this lapse in the law is an oversight that just needs to be rectified. But you would be mistaken.

A version of the Bill was first introduced by Karen Buck in 2015 and was ‘talked out’. A version of the Bill was also proposed as an amendment to the Housing and Planning Act 2016 and was voted down by the government. Including the 87 Tory MPs who are landlords.  Their argument was that such legislation would burden upon landlords and discourage people from renting out homes.

How did we get in the situation we are in today, one might ask.

Many years of under funding and de regulation of the housing market we could argue.

What could be a greater burden for any person than trying to live in a ‘home’ unfit for human habitation, you might wonder.

Data from the English Housing Survey 2017 found that Almost a third (29 per cent) of homes rented from private landlords fail to meet the national Decent Homes Standard; meaning they either contain safety hazards or do not have acceptable kitchen and bathroom facilities or adequate heating

Poor housing impacts on children by making them 25% more at risk of ill health or disability, including raised risk of meningitis or asthma and a greater chance of mental health issues.

They are also more likely to miss school through illness.  Almost one million privately rented homes are deemed to be in a state of “substantial disrepair”, while 442,000 have damp in one of more rooms.

Poor housing also places a greater burden on other services and affects society as a whole, not just children.

Substantially more working age adults living in bad housing report fair, bad or very bad general health (26%) than those living in good housing (17%), with adults in bad housing 26% more likely to report low mental health compared with those living in good housing.

Those living in bad housing are almost twice as likely to have their sleep disturbed by respiratory problems at least once a month.

The association between living in bad housing and health problems is particularly acute among those above retirement age; with Pensioners in bad housing a third more likely to have fair, bad or very bad health compared with those in good housing (58% vs 38%).

Almost a fifth (19%) suffer from low mental health compared with 11% in good housing.

Almost twice as many pensioners living in bad housing suffer from wheezing in the absence of a cold, compared with those in good housing.

Not only is this unacceptable and immoral in this day and age but it also undoubtedly places more burden on the cash strapped NHS, including mental health services and schools that are already under so much pressure.

So what can we do about this?

We welcome the second reading of the bill and hope that this can proceed to the next stage. MPs will have a vote on this issue and we the people can apply pressure on our local MPs to vote the right way.

You can find who your local MP is and and how to contact them by clicking on the link below.

http://www.ukpolitical.info/YouandyourMP.htm

The above is taken from Natcen’s 2013 report on People in bad housing.

Has Young Voter Apathy Finally Been Defeated by Jeremy Corbyn? By Sarinder Joshua Duroch

The Labour party has managed to secure well over 500,000 members since Jeremy has been the leader of the party.

“Bland”

“Not appealing”

“Doesn’t look the part”

“He is past it now ”

These were the cries we heard from many people both in the Labour party and from the opposition with their supporters mocking the man. They have all been proven wrong and have been made to hide their faces since Jeremy’s efforts in the last election and the subsequent results which forced the government to turn to the DUP; sorry state of affairs is it not, one may ask?

The Cri de Coeur of criticism for Jeremy can now be heard from the Tories and others who clearly judged a very good book by its cover. It’s like your very own boomerang coming back and smacking you between the eyes whilst you are trying to impress a crowd with ego and prowess.

Now Jeremy is the bestseller and the others who were clearly in a perceived first-class seat can’t even get standing space on a replacement bus service.

The falling Tory membership is a clear indication of the present state that they are in and internal critics have had to bow and confess that they were wrong about Jeremy.

So, has he managed to tackle voter apathy? One may ask with eager expectation for an optimistic answer.

There is no doubt that in my mind the Blair years had a lot to do with people just giving up on politics, socialism is what they wanted; spin and the ‘Red Tory’ is what they got according to many opinions on the street.

Did they just hide and not come out to vote, or was it the MP expenses scandal that had a lot to do with the creation of voter apathy?

Younger people historically have never really shown much desire to engage in the political sphere and inner domains of politics; this is changing since Jeremy has become the leader.

Momentum is proving to be very information technology astute, a day doesn’t go by where I do not receive something in my inbox from Momentum HQ or from my local branch via Facebook interaction.

Has this new army of Jeremy Corbyn’s faithful foot soldiers eventually taken over a town called Apathy that was considering changing its name to a town called Malice seeing how fed up people had become of politics?

One can only hope so because of the danger surrounding the embryonic stages of voter apathy growing into voter stagnation.

We truly cannot allow a doubtful or fearful denouement of any election based on low turnout figures.

Obviously, we are not like other nations that require you to vote otherwise fines or imprisonment can be imposed, are we truly reliant on the personality cult to get us out and vote?  

Sadly, the consequences of this has been proven in the 2014 European Parliamentary elections where UKIP relied solely on the personality cult of Nigel Farage and it worked for them, the turnout in the 2014 European Parliamentary election was only 35.6%, whereas in Belgium it was 89.4%.

Is it any surprise that populism won the day and managed to access the open safe for the European Parliament’s salaries, expenses and chauffer driven Mercedes cars for UKIP MEPs?

I am sure Jeremy has learned that voter apathy turns into voter stagnation that in turn creates a recruitment ground for populists and the far right.

The working classes tend to contribute to voter apathy, but when they want to vote in protest it can be a very angry response to the climate of the day.

Where does Jeremy come into this? His members loved him, but an element of his own MPs were not so sure, he stood his ground and brought in an original brand of socialism that totally confused the faithful. No wonder considering the amount of ‘Blair & Campbell intoxication’ found in their blood streams when their levels were checked for spin exposure!

Where does the young vote come into this?

Well, it is blatant that Jeremy may have just overturned voter apathy in our nation. The last election was a total success for voter turnout in relation to the young vote.

For the first time in 25 years the figures hit a high note at 64% for voters aged between 18-24, in 2005 only 7% of voters in this age range came out to vote.

Was it a wake-up call?

Where were these young voters in earlier years?

Is it the case that the British Brexit Referendum result has created a new wall of defence against populism and the rise of the far right with young voters appearing at the ballot box?

With the rapid decline of first time buyers in the nation and the voter behavioural pattern of those in social housing always voting Labour; it is now apparent that the housing crisis may have given Labour the advantage at the ballot box in the 2017 General Election.

Private renters in the last election voted 54% for Labour and 34% for the Conservatives. Jeremy must be doing something right, that is a massive change from the 2010 election where 35% voted Conservative and 29% voted Labour.

Traditionally homeowners have a greater turnout but in 2017 private tenants had the greatest impact where the increase was 8% in turnout to 53% with most voting Labour.

In addition to this the suffering is continuing and the private tenants, mostly young people, are struggling to pay the rent each month. 33% of 25-34-year olds are having difficulties in meeting payments, this is out of a total of 1.3 million enduring difficulties in paying the rent.

Home ownership has been a tradition in the UK, unlike in the EU where renting has been the traditional option. Therefore, there is always living hope in equity; this isn’t happening any longer and young people are clearly turning to Labour to sort this crisis out.

So, what makes them turn to Labour, is it just policy or the clearly visible, plausible nature of Jeremy?

I am going to say it is the plausible socialist nature of Jeremy but what makes me say this? Jeremy made it clear that he doesn’t want to make Question Time a theatre but entails substance with questions that mean something to ordinary people.

He made it clear that he will be ‘resolutely political’ in the way he conducts himself in Parliament, in addition to this he has made it clear that “Political parties had written off young people, but young people didn’t write off politics.”

His view is that young people must be heard, the Momentum movement clearly has managed to encourage young people to engage and play an active role.

The membership of Momentum is just over 30,000 at present and is increasing. This is an indicator that participation at grassroot level is visibly evident in the formation of the many having a say and no longer the few making decisions on their behalf; Jeremy’s mantra chant is being placed in to action “For the many not the few”.

The attraction for young people is the digital technologies that Momentum has embraced, there are other activities such as political debates and greater interaction with the local branch where socialising and integrating where voices can be heard and acted upon are encouraged.

This movement is clearly a different way of doing politics and is not exposed to the traditional hierarchy structure of the local branches. People have been given roles with full trust to do so whereas, in the past these roles were designated to inner circles and paid staff.

Young people love the informality of Momentum and most of all it is grassroots, for once grassroots has been made to matter and this is where I believe young people have accepted and invested their trust in Jeremy Corbyn.

No young person seems to be a number but a force for change at grassroots level and an active participant with tons of interaction with technologies, in addition having the chance to vote for internal decisions.

The option to have information readily and quickly available is also another attraction like the ‘My nearest marginal’ site that gives activists knowledge on how to mobilise resources both human and practical in the event of an election including by-elections.

Momentum has clearly played a role in the rise of young participation in the electoral process.

However, there are factors like housing and poverty that are clearly linked to the higher participation of turnout and participation.

There is no doubt that Jeremy has managed to embrace the mindset of the young voter, how many past and present politicians can make that claim holding their head up high?

The answer is not many, that is a fact.

Sources: Ipsos Mori, Shelter & BBC Newsbeat.