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Housing and Planning Act: the fight continues

Islington Council leads the campaign against the Tory Government's Housing and Planning Act. Diarmaid Ward, Executive Member for Housing and Development, tells the tale of two local families whose lives will be ruined by the devastating Act.

Islington Council is leading the campaign against the Government’s Housing and Planning Act, which will force it to sell off council housing and to introduce a Tenant Tax on hard-pressed working families.

The extension of Right to Buy to housing association tenants, and the new definition of what an “affordable home” will cost in London, will simply make the housing crisis worse.

Together with other Labour Housing Leads in London, in August I wrote to the Minister for Housing and Minister for London, Gavin Barwell MP, to tell him that in the best interests of the great city of London, he should use his position to take urgent action to pause the implementation of the Housing and Planning Act.

Since he did not reply, we wrote again. This time, we thought it would be helpful for him to hear from two of the many working families whose lives will be ruined by the Tenant Tax.

Islington resident Sinead, has lived with her husband in a council at for 15 years. Their 19-year-old daughter suffers from mental health difficulties; they also have two sons, aged eight and 12.

Sinead started work at 16 as an apprentice office administrator; she and her labourer husband now earn a household income that will force them to pay a Tenant Tax of £193.75 a month. “We’ve both worked hard to create a stable home for our children,” Sinead said. “If we’re forced to pay this new tax we might end up having to leave London. The alternative is that I give up my job and try to find a part-time position instead.”

John works as a railway engineer. He and his wife, who is an administrator, have lived in their council flat since 1990. Based on their combined income, they will be liable for a Tenant Tax bill of £200 a month.

Contractually, John must be able to commute to his workplace in 45 minutes. He comments that “the Government are making it impossible for me to earn a living. My wife and I can’t afford this new tax, but we also can’t afford to rent in the private sector in London.”

If the Minister won’t answer me, and my fellow Labour Housing Leads, he should answer real Londoners like Sinead and John, who will be hit be this devastating legislation.

The fight continues. 

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