Activists ‘evict’ offices of Policy Exchange and Localis in protest at attack on social housing
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
STAFF at leading Westminster think-tanks were unable to enter work this morning, instead greeted by a boarded up front-door and ‘eviction notice’ accusing them of masterminding plans to dismantle social housing.
The think-tank ‘eviction’ was carried out by housing activists masquerading as bailiffs early this morning.
Today’s ‘eviction’ kicks off a day of protest as the Housing and Planning Bill 2015-16 reaches its report stage in the House of Commons. Housing campaigners, tenants and trade unionists will gather at Parliament from 1pm to protest the Bill.
Activists say the proposed Bill is the effective legislation of ‘social cleansing’. The bill will force the sale of council housing, increase social rents to market rates and scrap secure council tenancies – all policies advocated by Localis and Policy Exchange.
A spokesperson from Evict the Bill said: “The Tories want to destroy council housing within a generation, and the Housing Bill is the final nail in the coffin of genuinely affordable housing. If passed, the government’s bill will mean millions of ordinary people simply won’t be able to afford a decent, secure place to live. These think tanks may shy from scrutiny – but they are the true architects and lobbyists of the most far-reaching and damaging government policy in years.”
“Westminster is a bubble far-removed from the impact of government policy, that’s why we’ve evicted the Policy Exchange and Localis.”
Housing campaigners are calling for the bill to be scrapped and replaced by policies to secure decent, affordable homes for all.
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Notes to editors
- The Housing and Planning Bill 2015-16 enters its report stage in the House of Commons today (5 January 2016). The bill contains policies to sell off council housing, end secure tenancies and force unaffordable market rents on many tenants. It will also make it easier for private landlords to evict renters, and remove councils’ obligations to make provision for travellers.
- Architects for Social Housing and the Kill the Housing Bill coalition campaign are holding a demonstration outside parliament from 1pm on 5 January to coincide with the debate.
- Policy Exchange and Localis are rightwing think tanks with close links between each other and the Conservative party. They share an office at 10 Storey’s Gate in Westminster.
- In 2009, Localis published a report called ‘Principles for Social Housing Reform’, which argued that traditional secure affordable social housing should only be available to the “young and at risk, elderly, severely disabled, mentally and physically ill, as well as those suffering from drug and alcohol dependency problems”, and government support for social housing should be scrapped, with councils and housing associations instead being allowed to set rents at market levels and offer short-term tenancies. The report was co-authored by Stephen Greenhalgh, former Conservative leader of Hammersmith and Fulham Council who did a deal with developers to demolish the West Kensington and Gibbs Green council estate in the west London borough.
- In 2012, Policy Exchange published a report called ‘Ending Expensive Social Tenancies’, which argued that social housing in expensive areas should be sold off. The report was authored by Alex Morton, who is now a special adviser on housing and planning policy at No 10 Downing Street.