Croydon Council’s mishandling of its housing stock – with a rising number of empty council homes despite more than 2,000 families forced to live in temporary accommodation – has been described as a “scandal” by one of the candidates for the Communist Party in the local elections on May 22.
The council has reported 1,044 empty homes as at March 31 this year, up by 44 since September last year.
“I think this is a scandal given the extent of the housing shortage in Croydon and is symptomatic of the council’s refusal to tackle Croydon’s housing crisis,” said Ben Stevenson, who is standing as a council candidate in Bensham Manor ward in the Town Hall elections.
“Britain has the seventh largest economy in the world. We should be building decent homes for all who need them. Instead, we are failing those least able to defend themselves, forcing them to squeeze in to B&Bs. Not only are the conditions often cramped and squalid, but children suffer as they have no place to play or do their homework. These are modern-day slums and this is a massive waste of taxpayers’ money.”
House prices in London are now less affordable, compared to earnings, than ever before, reaching eight times the average salary of first-time buyers. House prices in Croydon, already high compared to national averages, are reckoned to have risen 14 per cent in the past year. This house price inflation is being fuelled by Government policies on mortgage lending and, in Croydon and across London, by developers building high-profit blocks of flats aimed at overseas-based buy-to-let investors.
“Clearly, this isn’t sustainable,” Stevenson said. “At some point, the bubble will burst. Local politicians are failing to meet the housing needs of those least able to defend themselves: the poor, the vulnerable and the socially excluded. Meanwhile the number of new houses being built is at an all-time low. The only significant building projects that get the green light are those that promise yet more luxury apartments in an attempt to lure high earners away from Central London.
“The supply of social housing in Croydon is of course, woefully inadequate. Years of neglect by the local Tory council, along with central New Labour and Tory Government housing policies, has left Croydon with a smaller housing stock then almost any other London boroughs. Even the council’s own housing strategy admits that Croydon is ill-equipped to meet housing need,” Stevenson said.
“An entire generation of people in Croydon are being systematically denied their right to decent affordable housing. We need, as a matter of urgency, to campaign for a significant council house-building programme, an end to the bedroom tax, an end to council house sales, compulsory requisitioning of long-term empty properties and rent controls in the private sector. Only the Communist Party offers these and other progressive policies which matter to ordinary working people.”
- Communists in Croydon have published a pamphlet on the growing housing crisis in the borough, Decent Homes For All, which is available online here.
Coming to Croydon
- David Lean Cinema: The Railway Man, May 1
- Groundwork River Wandle project workshop, May 1
- Hauntology – the architecture of Croydon, Apr 5-May 2
- Warlingham Sevens Heaven tournament, May 3
- Elm Tree Cottage garden open day, May 4
- Crystal Palace Chamber of Commerce Question Time, May 7
- David Lean Cinema: Wadja, May 8
- Coulsdon Euro election hustings, May 8
- David Lean Cinema: Blue Velvet, May 10
- Norwood Society Talk: West Norwood – a place of change, May 15
- David Lean Cinema: The Invisible Woman, May 15
- Coulsdon West local election hustings, May 16
- Croydon RFC charity memorial day, May 17
- Coulsdon East local election hustings, May 19 (confirmed)
- David Lean Cinema: The Rocket, May 22
- David Lean Cinema: Dallas Buyers Club, May 29
- Elm Tree Cottage garden open day, June 15
- Norwood Society Talk: The Concrete Church, June 19
- Classic Car Show at Purley Rotary Fields, June 22
- Crystal Palace Overground Festival, June 26-29
- South Norwood Allotments open day, June 28
- Elm Tree Cottage garden open day, Aug 10
- Norwood Society Talk: War Memorials, Sep 18
- Norwood Society Talk: From Fire Station to Theatre, Oct 16
- Norwood Society Talk: Lambeth’s Archives, Nov 20
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