A Londres, la bombolla immobiliària es continua inflant. A més, els pisos de propietat pública, que eren un dels pilars de l’estat del benestar anglès, estan en perill. Però no tots els londinencs s’hi conformen: les Focus E15 Mothers fa un any que defensen l’habitatge municipal.
Podeu veure el reportatge aquí.
[English] My new report about London for the program “Blog Europa” of the Catalan TV (TV3) can be seen here.
Following this text there is a transcription in English of what’s being told in the voice-over.
“8 hundred pounds a month”
“I would say the mortgage takes half of my income”
“I get 150 pounds a week, I think I pay a little bit out of my pocket”
Live in London can be a nightmare. Rents and mortgages had been increasing since the real state bubble. Moreover, coinciding with 2012 Olympic Games, there was a huge price increase of those buildings built under the regeneration label.
STAND UP: nowadays the average rent of a two bedroom flat in London are 1,600 pounds (2,000 euros). The price to buy it are 240,000 pounds (310,000 euros). But Londoners average salary is of 1,500 pounds monthly (1,900 euros), and the minimum wage is of 1,100 pounds monthly (1,400 euros).
It shows that homes prices have increased more than wages and it has changes the city composition. Furthermore, a lot of people can’t live in the neighbourhood were they live, what causes traffic problems.
Besides the private sector bubble, there is also a public housing crisis. It was established after the Second World War as a Welfare State basis, together with education and health.
Glyn Robbins: “The key thing about council housing is that it is affordable, so the rents are quite cheap; it is well build, in decent conditions; it also has security”
But since 1979, when Margaret Thatcher’s conservative government arrived to the power, their importance has decreased. If in the 80s 3 out of every 10 British people lived in public housing, nowadays only an 8% of the population lives in them.
The change is explained because of measures such as the “right to buy”, which permitted in the 80s that a lot of tenants to buy flats that since then where of municipal property. More current is the “bedroom tax”, which increases the rent of those flats which don’t have all the rooms occupied, and has affected mainly elder people.
Also, taking advantage of the housing peak, a lot of municipal houses are demolished. Among the new private property flats, every council may try to ensure that there will be affordable housing. But nearly always these flats are close to cost the 80% of the market price.
Public opinion has helped to make these measures socially accepted and public housing states to be seen as something bad. They stigmatize in a generalized way the people who live in them associating them to unemployment and crimes.
Glyn Robbins: “You know, I’ve worked in council housing as well for many years and anyone would argue that council housing is perfect, it has had problems, but lot of those problems have to do with the fact that the government stopped investing money in it.”
But not all Londoners accept to lose public housing. Focus E15 Mothers are a group of 29 young mothers which a year ago received an eviction order from their public flats. Then they rejected to be rehoused in the north of England, far from their families and friends, so they started a campaign defending public housing.
Jasmin: “I didn’t use to be interested in politics at all really. It was when I was handed the eviction that I had to make a decision. I am just gonna give up and move out of London or do something about it and me and the mums thought that we were gonna give on fight back. And then from then my eyes opened to the real world”
STAND UP: Focus E15 Mothers campaign started appearing in the news when they occupied these public housing buildings. They denounced that they have been empty for a long time because there were never built the expected new flats.
Other activists’ groups have arose around the city after seeing their actions in Newham.
Jasmin: “We weren’t even sure of what would happen really, we didn’t know how the campaign would end up. If it was gonna be successful but we had a victory for the mums, we all got rehoused in Newham but we are in private rents so is a half victory. But we’ve carried on and we’ve gone from strength to strength. Carpenters State for example there are now gonna be put in 40 families. So its an absolutely amazing victory” (24”)
Despite this concrete example, public housing represents a fewer percentage of housing in the UK every time. The change of model that London is living quickly can push aside a lot of Londoners which, without having a chance to decide it, find themselves having to leave.