Having a safe, secure and affordable home is a human right, not a privilege.
The UN agreement states that the Government needs to “recognise the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living … including housing”.
The Government’s Housing and Planning Bill was forced through late on Tuesday night threatens to violate these terms. The bill is unbalanced and ignores the most impoverished. Many families are already living below the poverty line in inadequate housing.
Yesterday Labour MP for Holborn and St Pancras Sir Keir Starmer stood up in PMQs and asked the Prime Minister a straight forward question. Here it is in full so you can see how clearly it was put:
“In my first year as an MP, every other person coming to my constituency advice service surgery has been an anxious council tenant, usually mum, dad and two or three children living in a one-bedroom flat, and they are often in tears.
They cannot afford to rent in the private market, they cannot afford to buy their council flat, and they absolutely cannot afford a starter home.
Can the Prime Minister explain in practical and meaningful terms that I can read to them from Hansard when I go to my surgery on Friday why, in his view, the Housing and Planning Bill will not make their intolerable situation worse?”
I went onto Hansard myself to extract Sir Starmer’s question verbatim and while I was at it extracted Mr Cameron’s precise answer.
It took just two minutes for Cameron to convince me that he does not give a sh*t how the planned Housing and Planning Bill affects the UK’s poorest families. He cared so little about it that he actually avoided answering the question.
The answer Sir Keir Starmer wanted to read back to his constituents this Friday with all ways that Mr Cameron will protect the most vulnerable people in this country in light of the new bill.
I imagined how Sir Starmer’s constituents might react to Cameron’s answer….
“I would say to the hon. and learned Gentleman’s constituents that there is a series of things that I believe will help them. First, making sure that the right to buy is there for housing association tenants as well as council tenants, with the full discounts, makes a difference…”
“Right to buy? RIGHT TO BUY? Have you even heard the question Mr Cameron? How is that helping us; family so poor that we’re all living in a one bedroom council flat like Charlie f*cking Bucket. Did you not hear Mr Starmer say we cannot afford to buy our tiny, too small for us council flat?”
“…Added to that, Help to Buy means that people need a smaller amount of equity to buy their house, and that helps too. Further to that, starter homes will make a difference because they will be more affordable…”
“But Mr Cameron, you are again missing the point. Affordable to whom? Some families are living in the country that you are responsible for governing are living off £272 a week, some even less so. £272 a week barely affords us to feed and clothe our children let alone allow us to save for a f*cking starter home.”
“Added to that, shared accommodation homes means that where you previously needed a deposit of £30,000 to buy a house, you may be able to buy a house now for a just a few thousand pounds’ deposit…”
“A few thousand pounds Mr Cameron? And where exactly do these few thousand pounds come from for a family so impoverished that we’re cramped in a flat smaller than your ensuite bathroom?”
All of those things make a difference. And for those in estates that need regeneration, we are backing that regeneration, which never happened under a Labour Government.
“Oh good. I’m really glad you used our sh*tty, hopeless situation to a) answer all these questions in practical and meaningful terms and b) to have a dig at Labour. That’s really helped us all. Now if you don’t mind we’ve got to head back to our shoebox now and celebrate. Cheers Dave.”