London Tenants Federation Spring newsletter: Tenants’ organisations responding to Coronavirus and new survey deadlines

Welcome to our Spring Newsletter

We hope you and your family, friends and neighbours are safe and well.

These are very difficult and uncertain times. Social housing tenants are some of the most vulnerable to COVID-19 and its repercussions for our daily lives.

It has been heartwarming to see tenant representatives in London going above and beyond to help, whether in essential jobs or through local efforts to support vulnerable neighbours and keep spirits up.

We’ve written a blog about how one of our members, Southwark Group of Tenants Organisations (SGTO), has adapted to the new circumstances; keeping tenants involved in local democracy and linking Tenants and Residents Associations together with some of the many mutual aid groups that have sprung up to help neighbours during the pandemic. Read more here.

Of course, Coronavirus and the lockdown have made it harder for some tenant reps to help or take part as they might normally. We hope you are taking this time to be kind to yourselves. Your health and wellbeing are most important.

We’ve produced a list of links and information about Coronavirus, some essential and some more fun. Please feel free to share this with your neighbours and suggest additions.

LTF’s response to Coronavirus

Alongside other renters’ groups, our call for an eviction ban was picked up by the Mayor of London and within the week an eviction ban was announced by the Prime Minister. Unfortunately, the government’s support for those in housing need still leaves many people vulnerable.

On 19th March we made this statement calling on the government to provide better support: to homeless households; to tenants, leaseholders and shared owners who may struggle to meet housing costs; and to households who are overcrowded or in unsuitable accommodation.

We also worked with fellow members of the London Housing Panel to put out this statement calling for greater support to those in housing need.

We’d love to hear from you

How has your tenants’ group or organisation been affected by COVID-19?

Email info@londontenants.org

Extended survey deadlines

LTF Survey: What are your priorities as a tenants’ organisation?

New deadline 11th May 2020

Please take a moment to complete this survey to help us develop upcoming events and resources for TRAs, TMOs and Co-ops across London. Click here to take the survey.

The government’s First Homes consultation closes on 1 May

There is no evidence of need for yet another form of subsidised low cost home ownership in London. The evidence, by far, is that social rented homes are what is needed. We’ve shared LTF’s response to the consultation. Please feel free to use and adapt it.

New deadline 11.45pm on 1 May 2020

Responses can be sent to FirstHomes@communities.gov.uk

Working from home during the lockdown? 

We’ve been contacted by Dr Frances Holliss at Sir John Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design. She is examining the impact of compulsory home-based work as a result of COVID-19 on people with a range of living situations. She is interested in how those with less space and no garden, perhaps those affected by the Bedroom Tax, are managing during the lockdown. Email f.holliss@londonmet.ac.uk with a photo or description.

Other news

The UK Housing Review was published this month, and it shatters the myth that social housing is the most subsidised tenure in England.

Measures to stimulate homeownership and the private market in England amount to £53bn. That is 75% of the government’s planned housing investment for 2019/20 to 2023/24.. Only 25% was set aside for affordable homes (social rent, affordable rent and shared ownership). Note: these figures pre-date the recent Budget.

In contrast, government support for affordable homes in Wales is 74% of total investment, in Scotland 84% and in Northern Ireland 100%.

Other statistics that stood out were:

  • There were more than 170,000 families and individuals across Great Britain experiencing ‘core homelessness’ on a typical night in 2017. Core homelessness includes: rough sleeping, sleeping in cars, etc; squatting, in hostels, refuges and shelters; in unsuitable temporary accommodation (e.g. B&B), and ‘sofa-surfing’
  • Rates of core homelessness were almost identical in Scotland and England in 2010 but have since diverged markedly – steadily worsening in the latter
  • Grant for new build affordable housing has increased in England, but only from 7% of development costs in 2017 to 11% in 2019.
  • Over the seven years April 2012-19, the net loss of social rented stock in England reached 181,000 homes, despite the building of over 60,000 new social rented homes over the same period. Conversion to Affordable Rent and the Right to Buy were the biggest reasons, but in London estate demolition has played a big role.

Trust for London’s Poverty Profile: 2020 was published this week. Among the key findings were:

  • After housing costs, 28% of Londoners are living in poverty
  • 76% of children in poverty in London are in working families – an increase of 8%, or 80,000 children, from five years ago.

It is troubling to think this was the picture before COVID-19 hit. In a statement on Twitter, they said “Let’s use this as a baseline to measure the impact of #COVID19 on poverty in our city & work together to create a fairer London.”

What’s been said on Twitter

Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth @HousingActionSL  shared testimony from members of overcrowded families dealing with lockdown.

Inside Housing @InsideHousing reported that Newham Council moved hundreds of homeless families out of shared accommodation amid the coronavirus crisis. This came not long after we highlighted the 300+ empty homes on the Carpenter’s Estate.

Pete Apps at Inside Housing @PeteApps reported that “for a couple of years now, the government has been refusing to test a commonly used cladding system (HPL + phenolic insulation). The test was just done privately and it failed in under nine minutes”

Trust for London @trustforlondon shared this article by Lynsey Hanley: Lockdown has laid bare Britain’s class divide

Somerton House Residents’ Association @SomertonHouseRA shared some beautiful photos of the flowers in their entrance green: jasmine, tulips and daffodils.

D’Eynsford TMO in Camberwell @Deynsford were among many tenant-run organisations across London to share photos of some of the good work being done to help neighbours during the pandemic.

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