The Mass Sleep Out. City of London Solidarity on the steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Why the Mass Sleep Out?
This demonstration is about solidarity between those on benefits and those lucky enough not to currently need them. Solidarity for Renters in the private sector suffering high rents due to 2 million Council housing sold off and not replaced and solidarity for Council tenants being threatened with increased rents due to market forces. Solidarity between those who have homes & those who are homeless or in precarious circumstances.
800,000 people could be accommodated in existing empty buildings with the right economic & legal incentives. Estimates for the shortage of UK housing are some 2.5 million e.g. Anna Clarke & Gemma Burgess’s Cambridge survey Dec 2012, P7 aggregates government statistics of housing register applicants at 1,837,042 in 2011.
The requirements for new build for around 2 million people assume 30 decent terraced or semi-detached houses on one acre. At 2⅓ people per house that’s 70 per acre, divide that into 2 million you need less than 30,000 acres (out of the UK total of 62 million) or one twentieth of one percent of our land area. Currently only 1% of the UK is domestic housing; 90% is green space. (This accords reasonably with the annual numbers given in the Whitty report on housing Sept ’12, the Shelter Housing Report July ’13 & the Centrepoint survey July ’13.)
Most estimates for building a house come in around £100,000. So with appropriate planning regulations, Land Value Tax, cutting privileges for large land owners and disincentives for land-banking we could build them for £200 billion.
It sounds a lot but we have already spent £375 billion of Quantative Easing on government bonds which gives a bonus to banks. Chris Furston-Davis of the Occupy London Economics Working Group proposed we modify the use of QE to build houses , which would not only provide housing but would help to revive the real economy.
Even accepting current economic structures Merryn Somerset Webb (Investment Editor of Moneyweek) wrote in the FT in April that houses were overpriced by 20 – 30%. However the Government’s current policy of subsidising & underwriting mortgage lending will only lead to another house price bubble!!
This bubble will also increase rents and those trying to find somewhere affordable to live, and those homeless, are offered scant prospects of a decent affordable home.
St. Paul’s Cathedral Steps.
Sleep out being told by Police that homeless people cannot take shelter away from the constant rain. Paternoster Square was again fenced off as a precaution against activists.
From 2243hours. Police Liaison Officers