HOUSING CHARTER LAUNCHED

Video of launch event: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P6fbpDhBDaI

To sign Charter go to: https://www.radicalhousingnetwork.uk/sign-the-charter

The Radical Housing Network, in conjunction with environmental and housing campaigners across the UK, are putting forward this charter of demands because we believe that, despite the terrible problems we face, there are still solutions available to build better communities and live safe secure healthy lives, in a clean and sustainable environment  – if we fight for them.

People’s Housing Charter

The UK’s housing ‘crisis’ is the result of decades of government failure to meet people’s housing needs, while promoting ever greater inequality in access to land and property.

On any night in one of the richest countries in the world, more than 10,000 homeless families are living in a B&B while at least another 2500 people are sleeping on the street. These statistics are unlikely to be disconnected from the fact that the number of people in the notoriously insecure private rented sector has doubled in the last 20 years to nearly 20% of all households.

This lack of secure affordable homes is in large part the result of a mis-management of resources rather than lack of housing. Property speculators can profit from leaving hundreds of thousands of properties empty in the UK, and tax incentives promote the ownership of second-homes and AirB&Bs that divert hundreds of thousands more properties from becoming much needed homes.

Unequal access to housing has been exacerbated over recent decades by the transfer of housing and house-building from the public sector to private finance, and houses are increasingly seen as an investment vehicle rather than a fundamental human right. The failure of the ‘free market’’ to deliver the affordable houses that people need has also been facilitated by a lack of real local democracy over planning and development. 

The government’s plan to further loosen democratic control over the planning process needs to be seen in this context of a country with extremely uneven distribution of wealth and power, racial inequality, and an unwillingness to tackle the biggest threat of all, which is the climate emergency.

Buildings produce no less than 40 percent of the UK’s total carbon emissions, and construction produces 63 percent of the UK’s 200million tonnes of rubbish a year. There is no way to reduce carbon emissions without radically overhauling the buildings we live in and what we build – but so long as there is profit in polluting there will be no change of course without drastic and dramatic government action. First and foremost in order to make far-reaching and rapid decisions about how we use land then we need to own it – so the sale of public land has to stop and the buying of private land for community use has to start. 

In the process of implementing these changes we could also create a much richer physical and social environment that enhances all our lives.

We call on local and national governments to adopt the following principles:

  •  Housing is a right for all. Everyone should have a home that is affordable and in good repair, with enough living space and access to work, education and community amenities. 
  • Providing housing need not, and must not, contribute to the destruction of the environment on which we all depend.

To achieve these principles we need to adopt the following measures:

1. Convert long-term vacant properties to social housing.

2. Refurbish and repurpose – rather than demolish – existing buildings, to provide homes or to revitalise empty high streets through community use.

3. Where new buildings are necessary they must be built with sustainable materials and be truly carbon neutral (without ‘carbon offset’ payments).

4. Introduce and enforce rent controls and secure tenancies for all renters.

5. Tax the increasing value of private land to fund public investment – a land tax.

6. Retrofit all buildings to the highest environmental and safety standards including insulation and affordable renewable energy schemes.

7. Introduce participatory democracy in all areas of planning and control over our homes. This could include planning juries, citizen assemblies, tenant associations and tenant co-operatives.

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