LONDON: Around 2,000 Londoners marched through the British capital on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) in protest at proposed legislation radically altering the rights of public housing tenants.
Residents of the Lambeth and Southwark boroughs of inner south London marched from the Imperial War Museum to British Prime Minister David Cameron’s Downing Street office.
They waved placards reading “Housing for need, not greed,” “Mass building of council homes” and “Rent control now.”
The Housing and Planning Bill would see high-value public housing sold off when it becomes vacant, stop local authorities from granting permanent tenancies and set some public housing rents to local market levels, which in inner London, would see them soar.
The high cost of living in London is a major issue in the British capital and will be high on the agenda in May’s mayoral elections.
Official figures from November showed the average price of buying a house in London was £506,724 ($727,500, 664,600 euros), compared to £186,325 across the whole of England and Wales.
Joan Twelves, 68, of one south London tenants’ association said the legislation could have a devastating effect.
“It will force people to pay market rents—something like five times the amount they are currently paying.
“It isn’t affordable to the working class. We will be driven out of central London and forced to live on the edges. There won’t be workers in London,” he said.
The government says it wants to regenerate run-down estates and its housing plans are tilted towards new homes to buy rather than rent.
A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said of the proposed new laws: “The Housing Bill ensures the sale of empty high value council assets will enable receipts to be reinvested in building new homes that better meet local needs as well as supporting home ownership.”