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Hundreds in protest against Housing and Planning Bill

Published 13/03/2016

Demonstrators during a protest against the Government's Housing Bill, in Westminster, central London
Demonstrators during a protest against the Government's Housing Bill, in Westminster, central London

Hundreds of people have descended on Parliament Square to protest against a Bill which it is claimed could "smash social housing".

Protesters carried banners and placards reading "Anti-social housing policy from the House of Ill Repute", "Kill the Housing Bill" and "You're heartless, We're Homeless" as they passed the Houses of Parliament.

Labour MP Diane Abbott, who joined the London demonstration against the Housing and Planning Bill, tweeted: " Tories determined to smash social housing & socially cleanse big cities like London."

Speakers at Parliament Square, including representatives from trade unions and a traveller group, told supporters: "We're not going anywhere", to huge cheers and applause.

During a debate on the Bill in the House of Lords last week, peers said that forcing the sale of high-value council properties in order to subsidise the right to buy for housing association tenants is unfair.

Among the protesters was a teacher living in Islington who said the Bill makes her feel like a second class citizen.

Camilla, who did not want to give her surname, said even though she is a professional, she worries about not being able to afford high rents.

The 39-year-old said: "It makes you feel like a second class citizen based on the fact that you don't earn a six-figure salary. And because of that you don't deserve a safe home.

"It makes it very hard to focus on your job and your relationships and anything else in your life because you're constantly worried about where you're going to be for the next six months."

The Government has been accused of adding to the housing crisis as only some of the money raised is earmarked for replacement council housing, which does not have to match the size of properties sold off.

A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said: "More council housing has been built since 2010 than in the previous 13 years.

"The Housing Bill makes sure we make the best use of social housing based on need and income, while reinvesting in building new homes.

"Furthermore we have set out the biggest, boldest and most ambitious plan for housing in a generation, including £8 billion to deliver over 400,000 affordable homes. "

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