The UK Housing Crisis

The UK has a chronic shortage of affordable, decent housing that dates back to the 1980’s and is completely due to the decisions that successive governments have made. Margaret Thatcher lit the fuse to the housing crisis bomb when she decided to sell council houses. These homes were built in the couple of decades following the second world war when the UK was far more financially impoverished than it is today. This was the biggest programme of social housing construction in UK history and it transformed the lives of millions of people. Thatcher’s decision to privatise the UKs social housing stock was made simply to benefit multi million pound construction companies by creating a housing shortage and taking away any meaningful competition. The result has been house prices and rents spiralling out of the reach of many people. Today around £10 billion in housing benefits each year go straight into the pockets of private landlords rather than funding secure social housing. Over recent years the housing crisis has been made even worse by the austerity politics of successive Conservative Governments. Their brutal cuts to local council finances has forced them to give what remained of their council house stock to housing associations. Austerity politics has also resulted in real terms wage deflation creating “In work poverty”. This is a daily reality for millions of families and when coupled with the destruction of social and health care services, has left many people destitute. The previously rare sight of UK citizens living rough and being forced to beg on our streets to survive has become the norm in our large towns and cities. Across Teesside, we have seen that too many of our private rented and housing association homes are of very poor quality, and with the end of the Covid-19 eviction ban many more tenants will be facing eviction in the coming months.

What’s the Solution?

Collective action is the only way to deal with the UKs housing crisis. HAT is a group of Teesside residents campaigning for decent, secure and affordable homes for all. We believe the housing crisis was created by political choices putting private profit ahead of people’s needs. We will organise alongside our neighbours for real change in our community, fighting housing injustices, and pushing for better policies in our local authorities and in central government.

What do we believe in?

We believe that the rights of Teessiders to decent, affordable homes must come ahead of private profit. We know that for decades, our council housing has been sold off, and replaced with a profit-driven private rented sector that left too many facing exploitative rents and insecure private tenancies. We believe we can achieve positive changes in the housing sector through organising as a community, showing solidarity with each other and demanding better from central and local governments. We will support other groups that are also campaigning for these aims, and we will support our members and link them up with housing advice and assistance.

How can you get involved?

Join our group! We hold regular meetings where we discuss local housing concerns, and plan outreach and campaigns.

Homelessness Bill of Rights

The Homelessness Bill of Rights is based on the principles of basic human rights that are enshrined in European and International law. It has been drawn up to counter the increasingly common actions taken against homeless people by those local authorities and Police forces, who deal with their homelessness issue by effectively criminalising it. This can take a number of forms such as direct action against homeless people, resulting in arrest and fines or indirect action using “Public Space Protection Orders”. This policy has been described as a form of “social cleansing” and neither approach addresses the complex issues that are the reason why so many people end up without a home. It simply adds to the many problems and issues that homeless people have to face on a daily basis.

The Homelessness Bill of Rights doesn’t try to solve the homelessness crisis on its own. It is simply a way to show people experiencing homelessness and rest of the local community that the local authority is taking a compassionate and pragmatic approach to the issue of homelessness. Local Authorities who sign up to the Homelessness Bill of Rights demonstrate that they do not support the use of legislation such as the “2014 Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act” against “behaviours” associated with homelessness such as begging or rough sleeping, and that they view any contact with someone who is living on the streets as an opportunity to provide help and advice, an offer of accommodation and referrals to other services.

Housing Rights Watch is part of a European network of associations, lawyers and academics, who are committed to promoting the right to housing and they provide support and guidance on implementing the Homelessness Bill of Rights (