Speech to Southampton May Day 6 May 2019

8th May 2019

May Day Greetings. Thank you to the organisers and big welcome to Extinction Rebellion for their fantastic role in keeping climate justice on the front pages.

Decent housing is part of the fight for climate justice. A safe, affordable, warm, weather-proof, secure roof over our head is something that we all want but not enough of us have.

I could reel off statistics at you –in Southampton it costs over £1,000 pm to rent 3 bedroom property, there are more than 8,000 households waiting for council or housing association homes, the average house price is more than 6 times average wage.

But there’s no need for statistics to prove the housing crisis. We all experience the realities of the

housing crisis in our daily lives. Most of us are lucky enough not to sleep rough – although on any one night over 4,600 people sleeping on the street in England – but many of us are only one or two pay cheques away from homelessness. And there are other forms of homelessness. There are far too many people who are not sleeping rough, but are constantly moving from one friend’s sofa bed to another, with nowhere private and nowhere permanent.  You might be renting privately & worrying about whether you will have to leave on just 2 months’ notice to leave – and how you would find & afford another home, close enough to work, to children’s schools, to your family, mates & all your local links.

Labour has ambitious plans to tackle housing crisis. We will abolish no fault evictions, bring in security for private renters, we will build 100,000 homes a year, half of them at rents of no more than one third income, we will free up councils finally to build council homes again. And we plan to end rough sleeping & tackle homelessness – so that anyone who is homeless has right to emergency accommodation & to move on quickly to secure accommodation.

It is a tribute to the common sense of those policies that the Tories – after 40 years of creating the housing crisis & failing to solve it with neo-liberal policies – have jumped on the bandwagon and adopted our policies.

I’m Proud of Labour’s ambitious plans and I’m desperate for a general election so that Jeremy Corbyn can enter Downing Street and we can start implementing those plans.

 But I also think we need to go much further. To solve our housing crisis we need nothing less than a housing revolution, a revolution about our attitude towards housing. We need to cease treating houses as vehicles for wealth creation, as economic communities. Instead we need to change society so that we value decent housing, as part of our commitment to a decent life and so that our promise to each generation – no matter what their age, income, family circumstances are – is that you have a right to a safe, affordable, warm, decent, sustainable & secure home.

Our aim should be that no one struggles to pay their rent, no one struggles to heat their home, no one struggles to put food on the table. And in the 21st century, under a Labour government, we will abolish homelessness & abolish poverty.

Together, we can turn Southampton red, turn the country red & get Jeremy Corbyn into Downing Street heading a radical Labour government that will make a real difference to people’s lives.

Liz Davies is a Labour Party activist and housing rights barrister. Member of Southampton Test CLP and Unite the Union. Previously secretary for Hackney North CLP (2017–2018). Co-author Housing Allocation and Homelessness law and practice (Luba, Davies, Johnston and Buchanan, 2018, LexisNexis) and Honorary Vice-President of the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers. Her professional profile is here. She cannot respond to queries about legal cases through this website.

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