‘We must kill the Housing Bill before it kills society’ was the strong message in a spoof newspaper handed out on the streets of London tonight.
Fighting the Housing Bill
Activists from the Radical Housing Network handed out 20,000 ‘Standard Evenings’ to highlight the grave effects of the Housing Bill 2016. It leads up to a national protest on Sunday 13th March called Kill the Bill, starting at Lincoln’s Inn Field, 12 noon.
If passed into law, the Housing Bill will end the right to social housing for life and include a raft of attacks on housing, exacerbating the social cleansing already being seen in London and many other parts of the country. Tenants will be limited to 3-5 year tenures. Households with combined salaries over £30,000 (£40,000 in London) will face severe rent hikes. Plus, it will also force authorities to sell council homes and give this money to the Treasury. The government instead plans to sell “affordable” starter plans, starting at £450,000.
The Housing Bill will not only demolish what is left of Britain’s social housing stock. It includes extensive legislation, as wide-reaching as to effect the wider ecosystem. For instance, the Bill provides a backdoor for the fracking industry to gain planning permission, bypassing the current local authority controls.
The Standard Evening in 2026
The front cover depicts a desolate Boris Johnson in 2026, detained for wandering the streets. The main story begins:
“The Prime Minister [Boris Johnson] has been detained after dog walkers found him staggering around an alley having not eaten for days. One onlooker said he had seen him desperately trying to smash open a tin of foie gras with a rock.”
The story describes how those rich enough to stay in London are in panic as swathes of workers abandon the capital, being unable to afford the living costs. On page two the theme continues with an article on commuting hours for the remaining London workers reaching as much as nine hours a day. Inside, the paper explains how a UKIP-Conservative government has abolished rights for homeless people, which gives cause for why the Prime Minister is detained. Inside the paper there is also a grim tale of Blackpool post-fracking in 2026. Desolate after a brief unsuccessful shale gas boom, the toxic pollution has driven away the tourists and we hear that fracking industry workers have now packed up, as quickly as they arrived. One of the last hotel owners is making the move up to Scotland, marking a trend for this decision. In 2026, Scotland now supplies a great deal of the North of England’s fresh water and electricity, as it decided to continue with its ban on fracking and continue with building its renewables industry into the 2020s.
The dystopic theme continues also with a story celebrating the 10 year anniversary of “Operation Wipeout”, with the London Authorities marking the decade anniversary of the end of the right to protest. Additionally, there are tongue in check advertisements of estate agents trying to rent out sheds for extortionate prices, and Chelsea Football Club moving out of London to follow their fans. It seems even Premier League fanatics can no longer afford prices to live in the capital.
In brighter news, there is a story of resistance based in Manchester. A rent strike across the city has means landlords are up in arms, forced to pay their own mortgages. Again, this feature shows the view across the border to Scotland looks brighter. Here the Edinburgh government has introduced rent controls, life-time tenures and more social housing: all things that in reality will be dissolved if the Housing Bill 2016 goes through unchallenged.
The cartoons and comical references come with an explainer. On page 3 the paper tells readers they need to take these warnings seriously;
“This is no joke.”
“It may not be 2026 yet, but if the policies contained in the Housing and Planning Bill currently being rushed through Parliament come into effect we can expect the radical social cleansing of London described in this spoof paper. The Housing Bill is a wholesale attack on the social housing that currently provides secure and afford-able housing to millions of us who make the city the amazing and diverse place it is — and keep it running.”
The paper urges people to join them on the Sunday demonstration and to find out how to resist the Bill.