Revenge evictions are now a thing of the past. (Image: Flickr/Paul)
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The end of revenge evictions proves it: there's nothing more powerful than people

The abolition of revenge evictions shows what people can do when they work together.

This week, organised people won. This week, we put an end to revenge eviction.

Ever since the Tenancies (Reform) Bill made its way on to the Parliamentary schedule last year, people and organisations up and down the country have been pushing parliamentarians of both Houses and all parties to put an end to the practice of landlords evicting tenants simply because they ask them to carry out repairs.

Back in November, the private members bill finally made it to the floor of the Commons. Campaigners across the country made their voices heard by gathering support in their communities, lobbying MPs, and travelling to Parliament to make sure MPs turned up to vote. Unfortunately, due to a parliamentary quirk, the bill was defeated. There was outrage and anger all round.

But, those voices made enough of a noise that the Government had to listen. Within days, amendments were introduced to a new Bill in the House of Lords which were almost identical to the ones in the original Tenancies (Reform) Bill — the fight went on.

The new amendments were passed in the Lords in early March, and arrived on the floor of the Commons this week. After a long and winding road, the bill achieved Royal Assent and became an Act of Parliament. It became law.

Throughout this journey, grassroots movements has been at the heart of making sure these changes happened. Together, we put revenge eviction on the political map.

Thanks to the organising and campaigning of a multitude of groups who took action together —  including Shelter, Movement for Change’s Home Sweet Home, Citizens Advice, the GMB, Crisis, Generation Rent and many more — MPs who would otherwise never have turned up for a Private Members Bill turned out for the Tenancies (Reform) Bill debate. They told the stories of how their own constituents had convinced them of the need for change.

When it came back to the Lords, campaigns led by tenants themselves such as Home Sweet Home in Brighton & Hove were cited as proof of the terrible conditions people are forced to live in, and the anger there is at the injustice of inaction. It is the stories of tenants’ experiences which have driven the issue forward.

Finally revenge eviction has been outlawed. We should be in no doubt that this happened because of tenants coming together and taking action on the issues they face. On the ground organising across a multitude of organisations working together, building powerful alliances and national networks. It was because of the breadth and depth of those involved in the fight, and who made their voices heard, that together we influenced the highest offices in the country. We ended revenge eviction because tenants and civil society came together and took action.

 So now, we celebrate. We should all be proud and amazed at what we’ve achieved. Just look at what we can do when we work together. The only question left now is — what’s next?

Martha Mackenzie works at Shelter; Jack Madden is a campaigner with Home Sweet Home, a Movement for Change champaign.

Photo: Getty
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PMQs review: Jeremy Corbyn prompts Tory outrage as he blames Grenfell Tower fire on austerity

To Conservative cries of "shame on you!", the Labour leader warned that "we all pay a price in public safety" for spending cuts.

A fortnight after the Grenfell Tower fire erupted, the tragedy continues to cast a shadow over British politics. Rather than probing Theresa May on the DUP deal, Jeremy Corbyn asked a series of forensic questions on the incident, in which at least 79 people are confirmed to have died.

In the first PMQs of the new parliament, May revealed that the number of buildings that had failed fire safety tests had risen to 120 (a 100 per cent failure rate) and that the cladding used on Grenfell Tower was "non-compliant" with building regulations (Corbyn had asked whether it was "legal").

After several factual questions, the Labour leader rose to his political argument. To cries of "shame on you!" from Tory MPs, he warned that local authority cuts of 40 per cent meant "we all pay a price in public safety". Corbyn added: “What the tragedy of Grenfell Tower has exposed is the disastrous effects of austerity. The disregard for working-class communities, the terrible consequences of deregulation and cutting corners." Corbyn noted that 11,000 firefighters had been cut and that the public sector pay cap (which Labour has tabled a Queen's Speech amendment against) was hindering recruitment. "This disaster must be a wake-up call," he concluded.

But May, who fared better than many expected, had a ready retort. "The cladding of tower blocks did not start under this government, it did not start under the previous coalition governments, the cladding of tower blocks began under the Blair government," she said. “In 2005 it was a Labour government that introduced the regulatory reform fire safety order which changed the requirements to inspect a building on fire safety from the local fire authority to a 'responsible person'." In this regard, however, Corbyn's lack of frontbench experience is a virtue – no action by the last Labour government can be pinned on him. 

Whether or not the Conservatives accept the link between Grenfell and austerity, their reluctance to defend continued cuts shows an awareness of how politically vulnerable they have become (No10 has announced that the public sector pay cap is under review).

Though Tory MP Philip Davies accused May of having an "aversion" to policies "that might be popular with the public" (he demanded the abolition of the 0.7 per cent foreign aid target), there was little dissent from the backbenches – reflecting the new consensus that the Prime Minister is safe (in the absence of an attractive alternative).

And May, whose jokes sometimes fall painfully flat, was able to accuse Corbyn of saying "one thing to the many and another thing to the few" in reference to his alleged Trident comments to Glastonbury festival founder Michael Eavis. But the Labour leader, no longer looking fearfully over his shoulder, displayed his increased authority today. Though the Conservatives may jeer him, the lingering fear in Tory minds is that they and the country are on divergent paths. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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