This article explores the history of housing in Britain over the past 150 years, and the ways in which access to housing has been shaped by collective struggle.1 It traces the rise and the decline of council housing, and the present hegemony of a system in which it is assumed that the majority of people will buy, or attempt to buy, their own house, and in which private tenants in particular have fewer rights than their counterparts of just 30 years ago. Along the way, this article challenges a number of common myths about housing, including the idea that the lack of supply of housing in general, or council housing in particular, is caused by immigration to Britain. My approach is that any proposals for housing should be assessed according to three key criteria: do they offer security of tenure to tenants? Do they give tenants enough space to live comfortably? How do they join together an idea of how housing should be with a plan of how people should live in cities?
Engels’s Manchester, Outcast London
Industrial capitalism changed the relationship of people to housing. New industries recruited huge numbers of workers from the countryside. Some peasants were removed from the land by force, in particular as a result of the enclosure of former common lands and the descent of regions or even whole countries (such as Ireland) into famine. Work was centralised in factories; workers were placed under the supervision of managers who did not own but oversaw the means of production.2 The home became primarily a place of social reproduction: where workers rested between shifts, where meals were prepared, where adults cared for the young.
The recruitment of tens of thousands of workers required the building of new houses. Workers lacked the money to buy their own homes and rented rooms instead from private landlords.3 In Manchester, as in much of industrial Britain, the typical house was a terraced property composed of two rooms, one above the other, with the walls a single brick thick. The lower room would be used for cooking, eating and living, the upper room for sleeping. It was not unusual to find ten or 11 people from two or more families sharing the upstairs sleeping room. Sometimes there was an occupied cellar. In 1835 the Manchester Statistical Society found that around one eighth of the city population lived in cellar rooms.4
The houses were packed together as tightly as possible. “Back to back” houses shared the same rear wall. Houses were also built in “courts” with access to a group of houses at ground floor level, the entrance often doubling up as a collective privy. One of the worst districts in 1840s Manchester, as Frederick Engels recorded, was “little Ireland”, just south of Oxford Road:
In a rather deep hole, in a curve of the Medlock and surrounded on all four sides by tall factories and high embankments, covered with buildings, stand two groups of about 200 cottages, built chiefly back to back, in which live about 4,000 human beings, most of them Irish. The cottages are old, dirty and of the smallest sort, the streets uneven, fallen into ruts, and in part without drains or pavements, masses of refuse, offal and sickening filth lie among standing pools in all directions.5
Even in London, whose urban geography predated industrial capitalism, the same problems of a lack of homes, and the rapid dilapidation of the housing stock, could be found. The social reformer Sir John Simon complained in 1854 that “it was no uncommon thing in a room of 12 foot square or less to find three or five families styed together…in the promiscuous intimacy of cattle”.6 In 1880 a representative sample of London workers found that on average they were spending between 20 and 30 percent of their weekly wages just on rent.7 In 1883 the clergyman Andrew Mearns described the interior of the typical London home:
Walls and ceiling are black with the accretions of filth which have gathered upon them through long years of neglect. It is exuding through cracks in the boards overhead; it is running down the walls; it is everywhere. What goes by the name of a window is half of it stuffed with rags or covered by boards to keep out wind and rain; the rest is so begrimed and obscured that scarcely can light enter…8
There were relatively few Victorian or Edwardian models of successful workers’ housing. The best-known examples are Saltaire in Bradford, Bournville in Birmingham and Port Sunlight on the Wirral. Each is a model village of fewer than 1,000 homes built in the vicinity of a large Victorian factory. Saltaire was built from 1853 onwards by a wool manufacturer, Titus Salt. The site includes dining halls and kitchens, baths and washhouses, a hospital, school and church, and allotments for the workers, but no pub.9 Bournville was founded in 1879, to provide affordable housing both for workers at the nearby Cadbury’s cocoa and chocolate factory and for those working elsewhere in the district. Port Sunlight was built from 1899 onwards by William Hesketh Lever of the soap manufacturer Lever Brothers, later Unilever. Salt, Cadbury and Lever were each both Nonconformists and Liberals. They were hostile to trade unions, ruling their model villages as benign autocrats.10
Edwardian Britain’s other contribution to urban planning was a City Garden movement, some of whose key figures, including Ebenezer Howard, the public face of the campaign, were inspired by a diffuse semi-anarchist politics (ie the reformism of Pierre Joseph Proudhon rather than the insurrectionary politics of Mikhail Bakunin). The movement planned to build new cities in rural areas with low density housing in squares and cloisters emulating the communality of medieval life. The Garden City Association was funded by Liberal businessmen such as Lever, and promoted its first site at Letchworth. George Bernard Shaw attended one of its first meetings in 1901, and gently satirised the movers’ benign intentions from the floor:
I pointed out that manufacturers were ready enough to go into the country; but what they went there for was cheap labour. I suggested that half a dozen big manufacturers building a city could give good wages, and yet get some much of them back in rent and shop rent [and] that the enterprise might pay them all the same. At this the Hindhead proletariat grinned from ear to ear and concluded that I was the man who really understood the manufacturing nature, the Geyser [Howard] being a mere spring of benevolent mud.11
Fighting the landlords here
A recurring theme of the 19th and early 20th century workers’ movement was the desire for a spacious and pleasant home. Long before Ebenezer Howard or the Garden City movement, many workers appear to have assumed that any comfortable home could be found only outside the city. As Chartism waned, from the middle years of the 1840s, its leading personality Feargus O’Connor led the movement away from strikes towards a plan for resettling workers in rural communes. Some 70,000 subscribers signed up to O’Connor’s National Land Company, several hundred of whom were eventually housed, including 78 families granted single-storey stone cottages in “Charterville” at Minster Lovell in Oxfordshire. The houses comprised a kitchen, bedroom, sitting room, no fewer than three back storage rooms, plus allotments of between two and four acres, with on-site pig-sties.12 That housing on this scale was the desire and beyond the reach of most workers is shown by the numbers who subscribed to O’Connor’s scheme.
In The German Ideology, written in 1845-6, Marx and Engels insisted that a division between the city and the countryside was not innate in human experience, but was a part of the rise of capitalism. “The separation of town and country can also be understood as the separation of capital and landed property, as the beginning of the existence and development of capital independent of landed property—the beginning of property having its basis only in labour and exchange.” The city seemed a more desirable environment: “The town already is in actual fact the concentration of the population, of the instruments of production, of capital, of pleasures, of needs, while the country demonstrates just the opposite fact, isolation and separation.” You can hardly imagine Marx pining for a countryside retreat. Yet Marx did not celebrate the city over the countryside. Rather he saw the antagonism between urban and rural as a reflection of general human alienation, depriving the inhabitants of each sphere of a full life: “The abolition of the antagonism between town and country is one of the first conditions of communal life”.13
In an 1872 pamphlet, The Housing Question, Frederick Engels criticised a fashion in German theory which was to import from French socialism (from Proudhon) an idea of the tenant as the member of an oppressed class, whose misery would only be satisfied if the tenant could be converted into the permanent owner of property.14 Very well, wrote Engels, “in the industrial districts in England, where there is large-scale industry but small workers’ houses and each married worker occupies a little house of his own, there might possibly be some sense in it.” But what should be done in those European cities where large blocks of flats were being built? Could 10, 20 or 30 families “own” one of these large houses? And what would befall a worker who had to move?15 The solution to the weakness of the tenants, Engels maintained, would not be solved by converting them all into landowners. Liberation could come only at the point of production.
By the 1880s, radicals were proposing reforms to solve the housing crisis. Joseph Chamberlain (then a Liberal politician) suggested prosecuting landlords who let insanitary homes. Henry Broadhurst argued that where a court found that a property was in disrepair the freehold should automatically transfer to the tenant. William Collins demanded laws prohibiting unfair rent rises. Dwyer Gray suggested the nationalisation of all urban land.16 An 1884 Royal Commission on Housing invited submissions from the London Trades Council. Members of the council called for the increase of local authority powers at the expense of private landlords: “What the individual cannot do the state municipality must seek to accomplish”.17
Yet despite the widespread sense that something bold had to be done about housing, as late as 1900 the majority of workers were still housed in private lodgings of poor quality and paying high rents. In truth, working class families had few other options. Whereas the factories brought thousands of workers together at the same point of production and were obvious locations of common struggle, housing was a battle which had to be fought each time afresh against individual landlords.
A first real breakthrough came in Glasgow in autumn 1915. In war conditions munitions factories attempted to recruit large numbers of additional workers. The recruits were brought to Glasgow (and also to Birmingham, to London and to other urban centres) and found a marked lack of available housing. Private owners sought to profit from their control of the market by imposing rent rises of up to 25 percent.
During a period of threatened strikes in the shipyards, when government representatives were touring the factories promising that in return for sustaining wartime production workers would see a post-war transformation of society in their direct interests,18 workers’ families engaged in rent strikes against the private landlords. Non-payers of rent were brought before the courts, but a demonstration of 30,000 people in Glasgow against the evictions caused the sheriff to adjourn the cases.19
The movement, having begun in Glasgow, showed every sign of spreading through the whole country. Demonstrations were held in Northampton, Birmingham and parts of London, and in Birkenhead, where 2,000 women marched behind a banner saying, “Father is fighting in Flanders. We are fighting the landlords here”.20
The government responded with the Increase of Rent and Mortgage Interest (War Restrictions) Act 1915, capping rents to 1914 levels. The 1915 Act also gave tenants a right to remain in possession of their property beyond the contractual term of the lease, save where the landlord obtained a possession order on one of a limited number of grounds. A similar formula was retained in the Increase of Rent and Mortgage Interest (Restrictions) Act 1920. Various rent and rent restrictions acts were then adopted through the interwar years. The rent acts ensured private tenants had security of tenure at fair rents.21 They protected workers while restricting the power of the landlords. They were far in advance of today’s housing laws.
Unrest or contentment
The post-war years saw sustained attempts to kill off protests by reforms in the housing sphere.22 As King George V told parliament in April 1919, “If unrest is to be converted into contentment, the provision of good homes may prove one of the most potent agents for that conversion”.23 As well as rent control the government promoted house building. Tudor Walters MP was asked to investigate the housing crisis. His report was influenced by Raymond Unwin of the Garden City movement and recommended the building of large numbers of houses, to be publicly owned and generally affordable. Each house should have at least three downstairs rooms and three bedrooms and a minimum floor space of 760 square feet, and there should be no more than 12 houses per acre. The Housing and Town Planning Act 1919 required local associations to assess the housing needs of their areas and make plans for housing. Some 4 million houses were built in the next 20 years.24
The 1919 Act was followed by the Housing (Financial Provisions) Act 1924, the only significant reform passed by Ramsay MacDonald’s first Labour government. Piloted through parliament by the Red Clydesider John Wheatley, it guaranteed central government funding for local authority housing provided that various standards were met, including that the housing had to be of a minimum size and that it was for rent and not sale, and there was a fair wages clause for the workers who actually built the property. The 1924 Act remained on the statute book until 1934.
As the number of council tenancies grew, housing campaigns became a feature of all working class parties worthy of the name. A few examples can be given from the history of the Communist Party of Great Britain. In 1934-5 in Oxford the campaign that enabled the Communist Party to break through into a position of local prominence was a struggle against the decision of the owners of a private estate to place a wall round their houses (which were being marketed for sale to foremen and professionals), depriving other Oxford residents and especially council house dwellers on the nearby Cutteslowe Estate of access to the nearby Banbury Road. The Communist Party, working with Labour activists and local tenants’ committees, organised demonstrations of up to 2,000 people; at one of which activists attended with hammers planning to knock down the offending walls.25
After 1936 and the victory of anti-fascists over Mosley’s blackshirts at the Battle of Cable Street many Communists could see that defeating fascism would require more than just physical confrontation. In June 1937 Communists living at Paragon Mansions in Mile End heard of the threatened eviction of two families who turned out to be supporters of the British Union of Fascists. The Communists agreed to support the families against eviction. The tenants barricaded the block against the bailiffs, who were held off for two weeks. The evictions were withdrawn and the families left the British Union of Fascists; the mood in the East End began to turn.26
Another celebrated housing campaign in which the Communists played a prominent part was the squatters’ movement of summer and autumn 1946. Starting with James Fielding, a projectionist fed up with sleeping with his family in the back seats of Scunthorpe cinemas, up to 50,000 homeless people occupied empty properties. Communists attempted to give this movement a focus by squatting the red brick and marble Duchess of Bedford mansions that Kensington council (despite a waiting list of 4,000 families) had returned to its pre-war owners, Prudential Assurance. Four Communist councillors were charged with breach of the peace. The Labour government promised immediate action to house the homeless.27
Under the pressure of public campaigns the portion of Britain’s housing stock in council ownership had increased from around 1 percent in 1914 to 10 percent by 1938.28 After 1945 this share rose further. Under the post-war settlement it was taken for granted that working class people should have access to affordable council housing. Most politicians accepted that workers could not buy their own homes; in the words of one Labour activist, “the unemployed cannot [afford a mortgage]. The old cannot take out 20-year loans. The single parent families cannot, nor the disabled, nor the chronically sick, nor many other people who have not the entry qualifications for the housing market”.29 Politicians of all parties agreed that housing should be collectively not privately owned. The key priority for policy makers was to ensure that large numbers of new homes were built. The private companies lacked either the ambition or resources to build on the scale required.
The Labour government of 1945-51 built just over a million homes, to which can also be added the construction of a further half a million temporary houses, and the repair of several hundred thousand war-damaged properties. The government attempted to keep rents low, capping them at 10 shillings per week. Housing was placed under the control of the minister of health, Nye Bevan. The emphasis was on housing of a decent size (at least three bedrooms, and a minimum of 900 square feet of space per housing unit) and good quality, to be a permanent shared resource: the homes were for rent, not for sale.30
Piers Beirne describes post-war council housing as a “temporary socialisation of money capital by Labour”, by which he means that building costs were determined outside of the profit nexus, as building and slum clearance were done by council staff, directly employed, at non-market rates, and that local authorities were able to charge rents which reflected the cost of production of their housing stock rather than the going rates in the private rental market.31 Yet while the expansion of social housing was part of the hegemony of state as opposed to private capitalism and was a genuine counterpart to Labour’s other post-war reforms, the idea that council housing was outside capitalism paints the picture too red. Land itself, the supply of building materials and the control of construction companies all remained in private hands, shaping how council housing was built. The economy was still subject to the stop-go economic cycle, limiting the building of homes. The point of council housing was to socialise some of the costs of reproducing labour-power, which would otherwise have fallen on private employers, rather than to subordinate private capital to public needs. Council housing was bureaucratically run; it has often been expensive to occupy and poorly maintained. The priorities of housing managers and their working class tenants have only ever partially coincided.
Through the 1950s Tory housing ministers were well aware that the public mood remained in favour of social housing. Between 1951 and 1960 the Tories continued to build new homes, at the rate of 300,000 per year. This was more extensive house building than Labour had achieved, although the homes themselves were smaller, two-bed rather than three-bed and with a single upstairs toilet instead of Bevan’s two. The minimum size was reduced to 750 square feet per building instead of Labour’s more generous 900 square feet. Tory prime minister Harold Macmillan himself boasted that his homes were “quicker to build and cheaper to rent”.32 Part of the later dissatisfaction with council housing can be traced back to the worse quality of the homes built in the 1950s under Macmillan.
While the Tory governments remained publicly committed to the welfare state, Tory councillors experimented with more right wing policies. Following victory in local elections in St Pancras Borough in 1959 (now part of Camden Council), the incoming Tory councillors imposed rent rises of between 100 and 150 percent, taking rents above even the local private sector levels. By January 1960 over 2,000 of the borough’s 8,000 council tenants were on rent strike. The driving force in the campaign was a United Tenants’ Association led by the former Trotskyist (and until May 1958 leader of the Labour Group on St Pancras Council) John Lawrence. The Tories threatened non-payers with eviction. At one point bailiffs attempted to break into the flat of Lawrence’s ally Don Cook at Silverdale House, while pickets soaked the bailiffs with filthy engine oil and fought them with staves and bricks.33 Labour eventually took control of the campaign, promising to end the rent scheme, although failing to deliver in 1962 when it regained control of the council.34
By the mid-1960s much new-build housing took the form of high-rise concrete blocks. Buildings were designed in a modernist architectural idiom. The designers adopted as their models inter-war European buildings such as the Karl Marx House in Vienna.35 For some of the planners, the tower blocks were intended as a definite intervention into the British housing stock, to change the way in which people lived for the better. This would be done in various ways: there would be larger amounts of collective space, which would tend to bring people together, and resources such as laundry facilities, storage rooms and gardens would be shared.36 High-rise housing has since acquired a terrible reputation in the UK,37 so it is worth acknowledging some of the benefits of the model. High-rise flats often have better natural light than ground-floor properties. By building high there is an opportunity to provide more floor space per inhabitant, and greater diversity of land use, than there would be if cities were only composed of infinite numbers of two-storey terrace houses.
That said, anyone who has lived in a tower block will know the problems. Like all housing, high-rise accommodation requires spending on maintenance. Under-spending leads to even more rapid dilapidation than occurs in low-rise buildings; floors and walls become dirty; lifts break down. Where maintenance budgets have been cut, collective spaces are not shared but deteriorate and end up resting simply empty. When the rich are housed in tall blocks it is taken for granted that there should be cleaners, repair workers and other staff on hand to help the elderly or the infirm. Many of the 1960s tower blocks were built with downstairs rooms to accommodate council workers playing the equivalent roles. Successive generations of housing managers tended to sack the concierge staff, replacing them with agency cleaners (who might wash the floors or paint out graffiti but would not do repairs). The idea that workers should be permanently employed on site, and look after the tenants, was slowly dropped, as a waste of scarce council resources.
One of the best-known of the 1960s tower blocks is Balfron Tower, a 27-storey building at Rowlet Street in Poplar. Designed by the Marxist architect Ernö Goldfinger, the tower was intended to give architectural expression to a vision of the city in which each year a smaller proportion of land space would be given over to housing, freeing up space for parks and children’s playgrounds.38 The building is a concrete rectangle, flanked to its side by a service tower of equal height, which looks like an archer’s quiver. Goldfinger expressed his commitment to the building by moving in himself and renting a flat on the 26th floor. After he left, Goldfinger insisted on various changes, adding an extra lift, adapting the window and heating vents.39
Two years after Balfron Tower was completed, in 1969, Harold Wilson’s Labour government introduced a requirement that all new council houses had to comply to “Parker Morris” standards. These included details such as storage space and heating. There was also a modest increase in the minimum floor space, 775 square feet for a two-bed home. These rules remained in place until 1980.
Edward Heath’s Housing Finance Act 1972 attempted to reduce the subsidies paid to council housing by increasing the rents of employed council tenants and using the additional funds gathered in this way to phase out central government subsidies for council housing. On Merseyside a Kirkby Unfair Rents Coordinating Committee was led by Tony Boyle of the International Socialists (the forerunner of today’s SWP) and Maurice Lee of the Communist Party. Tenants on Kirkby’s Tower Hill estate voted for a total rent and rate strike. When managers found out that workers from the nearby Birds Eye frozen food factory had joined a rent demonstration, some 24 workers were suspended and two of the shop stewards were dismissed. The tenants responded with a community picket of the factory gates, stopping production and forcing Birds Eye to reinstate the workers.40
A second feature of the 1972 Act was that it required councillors to introduce higher rents, and threatened councillors who failed to do so with personal liability for any deficit caused by their failure to charge the higher rents required by the Act. Originally 45 councils declined to implement the charge; this eventually whittled down to just one council, Clay Cross, a Labour council in a mining area. The councillors declined to implement the cuts, or to assist the housing commissioner who was sent by the national government to impose the scheme. The council continued its opposition up to the time of the 1974 election, and 11 councillors were surcharged and eventually declared bankrupt. The offending provisions of the Act were repealed by the incoming Labour government in 1975.41
By the mid-1970s activists in Britain were aware of the experience of the Australian building unions, which had advanced from bargaining about the price of labour to placing a green ban on projects deemed to be environmentally or socially destructive. An article in International Socialism noted that by 1973 there were 32 sites green-banned holding up £1.5 billion of speculative building, much of it in working class central Sydney.42
One of the most pervasive of racialised anxieties in post-war Britain was the idea that white people had been denied access to housing by the allocation of homes to immigrants. As long ago as the 1940s a Middlesbrough town councillor, Mrs Gaunt, was quoted in the press complaining that migrants were stealing “white” homes. Mrs Gaunt’s concerns, she insisted, were not for the migrants, who were often forced into poor housing, but for her white constituents, in particular for women. Gaunt was fixated by the danger of miscegenation. “I don’t believe in the colour bar”, Mrs Gaunt said, “but these people paint up their houses like the Taj Mahal… Most of these are single men with no women living in the house at all”.43
In South Shields, where the left was better organised, the Communist Party lobbied the council’s housing committee in November 1948, to protest against what appeared to be the council’s policy to house black families in a single area, Cornwallis Square. The Labour councillors insisted that they had a policy of integrated housing, and promised not to allow the formation of racial ghettos.44
In Tower Hamlets the de facto position of the council’s housing department was, as Geoff Dench, Kate Gavron and Michael Young record, that Bangladeshi migrants to 1970s Britain were non-persons. “When their wives and children arrived they too were non-persons, packed in limbo waiting for a policy. The officials and the Labour councillors were united in wanting the newcomers to go away, back home, to the north of England, anywhere.” Some Bangladeshi families resorted to squatting abandoned properties, and by 1973 a Bengali Housing Action Group had local support, espousing a mixture of self-help and political action. In 1978 the Greater London Council belatedly agreed to allow squatters to refurbish their property, or where this was impossible, to rehouse their inhabitants. This victory provided the context to the murder of a 25 year old garment worker Altab Ali by racists in Whitechapel in May 1978, and to the community mobilisation that followed through that summer, which saw 7,000 people march in Ali’s memory, and after which anti-racists succeeded in forcing the National Front out of the East End.45
Meanwhile, John Rex’s work suggests that the black communities of Notting Hill and Brixton46 had a relatively similar experience of discrimination in social housing. If discrimination was overcome, that was by people renting in the private sector: “When we look at the immigrant population some ten to 20 years after their first arrival, we find that they do indeed have roofs over their heads and that they often own those roofs. But it is still the case that they are where they are primarily because of disadvantage arising out of the system of housing allocation”.47
One device councils used to exclude black tenants was residential qualification, in which housing was only offered to those who could demonstrate that they or their family already had several years’ connection to a particular area. Such indirectly discriminatory allocations policies were challenged in the 1980s and 1990s, only to be reintroduced more recently as government policy under New Labour.48
By 1979 just under half of the population of Britain lived in council
housing.49 To change this required an assault not just on social housing but on the social democratic welfare consensus that underpinned it. Tory policy relied on (and promoted) a notion of the people as a series of individuals in relentless competition with one another. If the majority of people did not easily live down to this bleak conception of human nature, the state should intervene to require them to take part in competitive behaviour. As Michael Heseltine claimed, when speaking to the Housing Act 1980, the purpose of housing policy was to foster “the attitudes of independence and self-reliance that are the bedrocks of a free society”.50
The 1980 Act set out to do this by giving council tenants with two years occupation the “right to buy”, an option to purchase the home in which they lived at a discount of between 30 and 60 percent of the market rate, depending on the length of time they had lived there. There was no guarantee in advance that enough numbers of council tenants would buy their properties to make the scheme work. Lynsey Hanley writes, plausibly, that there were in fact three big strands of opinion among council tenants. Many approved in principle of becoming home-owners. Many others found the scheme repellent. A third group were concerned only with the practical elements; as she puts it, “Could we afford to replace our own boiler?”51
The key to making “right to buy” work, the Tories grasped, was the extent of the discount. A tenant with a 30 percent discount could anticipate paying monthly mortgage repayments thereafter of a little less than council rents, making right to buy attractive but not decisively so. With a 60 percent discount, the tenant could expect their mortgage payments to be half or less of their existing council rent. The scheme was a piece of pure social engineering: it succeeded essentially because the funds were found to finance it on terms so advantageous that only the positively foolhardy would turn down what amounted to a massive bribe.
Between 1981 and 2006, as a result of the right to buy, and also as a result of government programmes of transferring council homes to housing associations in the private sector, the number of owner-occupied homes in the UK increased from 12.4 million to 18.5 million, while in the same period the number of homes rented from local authorities fell from 4.4 to 2.6 million.52 The right to buy devastated the public housing sector, withdrawing properties from stock and increasing competition for those houses and flats remaining in local authority control. It fuelled the mortgage boom of the 1980s and the repossession booms of the early 1990s and since 2008. It has also changed the social demography of council tenancies. In 1979 the majority of council tenants were “ordinary” working class families, with one or more adults in full-time employment. As early as 1995, 95 percent of those newly housed by local authorities qualified for unemployment or incapacity benefits.53 A gap had been opened up between the employed and unemployed workers.
The second key Tory policy was to erode the rights of privately renting tenants. The Rent Acts were restricted, and the Housing Act 1988 provided that no new protected private tenancies could be created after 1989. Since then, there have been no legal means to guarantee new private sector tenants fair rents. Private landlords have had an almost unrestricted right of repossession. The main current legal rights of significance for private tenants are protections against disrepair to the structure of the property54 and against unlawful eviction,55 and rules requiring landlords to register their tenants’ deposits.56 The total protection is dramatically less than it was prior to the Thatcher governments.
The third Tory measure was to make a distinction between tenants of local authorities on the one hand and tenants of housing associations on the other. Initially, under the Housing Act 1980,57 both groups acquired secure tenancies. However, since the Housing Act 1988 new housing association tenants have only had the protection of assured tenancies. In short, local authority tenants are better protected, as even in the event of sustained rent arrears a court can only order that they give up possession of the property where it would be “reasonable” to do so. Judges are often cautious to order eviction, well understanding that when a council tenant is made homeless, the total bill to the state almost always increases.
The housing associations themselves have been subject since the 1980s to repeated market “reforms”, with the result that what were previously “small, not for profit organisations, run on a voluntary basis by well-meaning philanthropists, organisations providing housing for people with insufficient resources to be owner-occupiers”, are now huge private businesses, with finances often running into the billions, heavily indebted to banks, paying commercial rates of interest, where key policy decisions are usually taken by accountants.58
One of the forms that privatisation has taken since the 1980s is the transfer of council properties to housing associations, with some 600,000 homes transferring in this way between 1981 and 2007, although several high-profile proposed transfers have been defeated by tenants’ campaigns, often led by Defend Council Housing (DCH). In Camden in January 2004 tenants voted by 77 percent to 23 percent against the transfer of the management of their homes to an Arm’s Length Management Organisation (ALMO), despite the council spending £500,000 on literature promoting a “yes” vote. There have also been decisive “no” votes in North West Leicestershire, Gravesham, Brighton, Mid-Devon, South Kesteven and Swansea.59 DCH was initiated by tenants including Alan Walter of the SWP, who was described on his death by the Labour MP Austin Mitchell as “an organiser of genius. He…turned a tenants’ campaign into a national political force and pushed the issue of council housing into the mainstream political arena”.60
The past 30 years have seen a very dramatic increase in the number of homes subject to mortgages. As of 2007 some 31 percent of UK homes were owned outright and a further 40 percent were subject to mortgages.61
The increasing portion of homes subject to mortgages has been accompanied by a dramatic increase in the unit price of private housing. In the first quarter of 1981 the average UK home cost £24,000 to buy. By the first quarter of 2011 this had increased to £162,000. Even allowing for inflation, this is an increase of 110 percent.62 Politicians of all stripes blame this rise on an increase in the population, which is in turn blamed on migration. There is undoubtedly a housing shortage, but the major drivers of this process have been the reduced access to council housing as a result of the right to buy, reduced household sizes (more people live alone), and a failure to build social housing, rather than immigration. Between 1971 and 2007 the population of Britain increased from 54.3 million to 59.2 million, ie by around 9 percent. About half of this increase was down to people living longer and about half due to net migration.63 At the same time the number of households rose from 18.6 million to 24.4 million, or a staggering
31 percent. In effect there has been a massive increase in housing provision, which should have resulted in all of us living in much greater space. The reason why this has not happened is that while the average house had three people living in it in 1971, there were only two and a half people living there by 2007. This dynamic, multiplied across tens of millions of lives, has more than offset the absolute increase in the number of housing units. The trend for families to live apart,64 alongside neoliberal government policies, has been the major cause of housing shortage.65
The purchase of private housing has all sorts of concealed costs for the purchaser, including high conveyancing fees,66 the risk of mortgage
misselling, and reduced security of tenure, as banks are far more aggressive in requiring possession from borrowers who fall into arrears than councils are with defaulting tenants. Two figures illustrate the insecurity of mortgage “ownership”: Between 1980 and 2008 the number of mortgage possession claims started in the county courts rose from 27,105 to 142,046, while at the end of 2009 some 188,300 mortgage borrowers were in arrears equivalent to at least 2.5 percent of their outstanding mortgage balance.67 But this is to see the problem only from the perspective of the individual borrower, not from the viewpoint of society in general. In societies where housing is obtained by mortgages, and where the occupiers of housing are required to move regularly in order to service the needs of capital, banks play a larger role in the functioning of the economy. Money borrowed from the banks circulates as housing debt which in turn is reinvested (or, more accurately, re-borrowed) in the stock markets. As the world discovered in 2008, it is no good thing that the security of tens of millions of homes relies on the indefinite peaceful continuation of our financial system.
Bad enough already, but getting worse
After 18 years of Tory government, and 13 years of New Labour, the state of UK housing could be summarised as follows. A majority, albeit a recently declining one, inhabit their homes by a mortgage.68 Those who have paid off the mortgage have in practice a degree of security. Those who have not paid off their mortgage often have a considerable debt to the banks. There is in addition a growing gap between both of these groups and those who do not have a mortgage, or have no prospect of being able to afford a mortgage. There are around 4 million socially-owned homes, around a half of which are council housing. In many parts of the country access to new council homes has been restricted to those in the very worst circumstances, such as homeless people in priority need.69 Local authorities normally house homeless people not in secure council properties but in temporary housing. There are some people with acute needs (eg as a result of sustained mental illness) who will never be able to get beyond temporary accommodation, and who spend years of their lives in hostels. Several London boroughs have waiting lists of over ten years to get from temporary to secure accommodation.
There are still many empty homes in Britain: there are over 650,000 of them in England alone, with about 90 percent of these privately owned.70 Very clearly, some of the present housing need could be solved by inviting homeless people into these properties, and giving them grants to repair and maintain them, so that these properties could be returned to the collective housing stock. Yet instead of reforms to house the homeless, the present government intends to make trespassing in a residential building a criminal offence,71 a measure which extends the existing laws which prohibit squatting an occupied property, or a property that was due to be occupied,72 ie the new law criminalises occupations where the building has been deserted by the landlord and the landlord has no plans to reoccupy it.
UK construction as an employer is characterised by privatisation and bogus self-employment. There are something like 2 million construction workers in the country organised in unions including Ucatt, Unite and the GMB, but union density in the private sector is low. The employers have run a long campaign against the unions, starting with the defeat of the Shrewsbury pickets in 1972 and encompassing the employers’ blacklisting of over 3,000 union activists in the sector.73 The electricians’ victory in spring 2012 over a proposed new construction agreement was the first sign in years of a workers’ counter-offensive.
The nature of house-building has changed. While 35 years ago many new-build homes were three-bed council houses, today around 85 percent of new-build homes are single-bedroom or two-bedroom flats built for private sale. The houses that are being built today are considerably smaller than those built in our parents’ generation. It is not just that the properties have fewer bedrooms: a two-bed property built in 2011 is likely to be smaller than an equivalent two-bed home built 30 years ago. Somewhere between 5 and 15 percent of new properties have a smaller floor-space than would have been allowed under the old Parker Morris standards.74
New Labour’s contributions to the crisis were a mixture of the malign and the indifferent. Government policy was to crack down on what ministers said was an epidemic of anti-social behaviour on estates by members of the undeserving poor.75 To give effect to this ideology, councils were given powers to put new tenants suspected of the potential for anti-social behaviour76 on a temporary “introductory” tenancy, under which they had diminished security of tenure compared to ordinary tenants. Councils could also apply for a “demoted” (ie insecure) tenancy where there were acts of anti-social behaviour that were not bad enough to bring the tenancy to an immediate end. Councils have made more use of the former rather than the latter powers. Many councils now issue introductory tenancies as a matter of course. The large majority of possession orders made against introductory tenants are made on grounds of rent arrears rather than anti-social behaviour.77 Like Thatcher, Blair was hostile to the building of new council homes.78
In terms of architectural styles, if the 1960s were associated with modernist high-rise blocks and the 1980s with postmodern architecture, the New Labour years were associated with a kind of degraded modernism (nicely characterised by Owen Hatherley as “Ikea-light”): high-rise blocks of flats, constructed on 1960s-style concrete frames, but with wooden or metal or brightly-coloured facing, giving every impression of newness over what is in reality a reduced interior space.79
Slightly more positive, although still mixed, were the efforts made to improve the housing stock. The government introduced a Decent Homes Standard. Some funds were made available, albeit not enough to cover the estimated £19 billion backlog of repairs needed to get all council homes up to the standard. Some of the improving works were far from benign, as on the Bemerton estate in south Islington, where private contractors
proposed in 2006 to use Decent Homes money to place 110 CCTV cameras on an estate of just 737 homes. Once the cameras had been installed, their running costs would have fallen on tenants and leaseholders. The annual cost to occupiers would have been between £500 and £2,000 per year. The proposal was, however, withdrawn after the tenants voted against the proposals in postal ballots and at some of the largest mass meetings the estate had ever seen.80
Although it is sometimes suggested that Decent Homes has cured the long-term problem of the dilapidation of the UK housing stock, the problems about which tenants complain, such as insect or rodent infestations,81 condensation, damp caused by water penetration,82 rotten windows,83 broken gas or heating appliances,84 exacerbated by a landlord’s unwillingness to do repairing work,85 remain endemic.
The Tory-Lib Dem coalition is cutting housing benefit, for example by placing (from April 2011 for new tenants, and for existing tenants from January 2012) an absolute cap on the amount of housing benefit that can be paid depending on the size of the property: £250 per week for a
one-bedroom property, £290 per week for a two-bedroom property and so on.86 This is intended to be accompanied by a new measure that no family may receive a total of more than £500 per week in welfare benefits. The measures are supposed to reduce the growing housing benefit budget, but the costs of housing benefit have risen in circumstances where landlords are able to charge what they like. They will do nothing to reduce landlords’ power to charge ludicrously inflated rents to the state,87 but will leave many thousands of tenants with a shortfall. In due course, they will be in arrears with their rent. Inevitably, a large number will be evicted. Civil servants have estimated that the £500 cap alone will result in 20,000 families being made homeless.88
The Localism Act 2011, which will reduce the security of tenure of tenants by introducing a scheme of “flexible” tenancies under which new council tenancies would initially only be of a fixed duration. The Act fixes the minimum terms as just two years. The coalition has created a new form of housing association tenancies for which the tenants would have to pay up to 80 percent of market rents. In a mean piece of Orwellian double-speak, these more expensive housing association tenancy are to be known as “affordable” tenancies.
The system of secure tenancies proteced communities in which there was a mixture of people, including the old, the poor and sick, as well as working families, many of whom were of moderate means. Fixed-term tenancies exacerbate the division between the majority of workers and those eligible for council homes. The claimed rationale for fixed-term tenancies is simply that there is a shortage of housing; there is indeed a shortage, but a far better remedy would simply be to build more homes.
The coalition plans for housing benefit will mean that something like 9,000 of the poorest families in London (with 22,000 children) will be forced out of their privately rented homes,89 which presumably will be taken by up instead by bankers, stockbrokers and their like. As for “flexible” and “affordable” tenancies, their impact is harder to assess, as it will depend on the number of housing providers that make use of these powers, and the extent to which they become the normal forms of council or housing association tenancies. What is clear is that the government is committed to a permanent struggle against all forms of social housing.
How people might live under socialism
For all the defeats that private and social tenants have suffered over the past few decades, what emerges from this story is a sense of how differently people could be housed. First of all, the operating principle of communist society is from each according to their ability, to each according to their need. The transition to a different way of running society would change everything about how we lived; it would mean offering to relocate people away from flood zones and deserts, the development of zero emission technologies, the transformation of the means of generating energy, of transport networks, and of every step of food production and exchange. In a more equal society the relationship between home and work would be changed.
Yet no matter how grand our ambitions are for change, people should be entitled to feel that the home they occupy is one in which they can live for as long as they choose. One of the triumphs of the council housing revolution was that it gave working class people security of tenure; one of the tyrannies of the housing counter-revolution of our own lifetimes is that it has made people less secure in their own homes. Individual legal property rights have turned out to be less secure than genuine social ownership. Part of the socialist message is that so long as people wish to remain in their house that is their choice, and it should be respected.
Second, in order for people to have space in their homes there are certain minimum standards that cannot be eroded. There is a fundamental hierarchy of needs; people cannot live happily in homes without access to air and to light and to space. More than a century ago the artist William Morris proposed that every building could be beautiful if it was “built generously as regards material, and…with pleasure by the builders and designers”.90 Nye Bevan too was right: if you expect four people to live in a home of 750 square feet or less, however you partition the rooms, the inhabitants will feel crowded. Place the same people in a space only one sixth bigger, and their sense of encroachment will be diminished: they will be freer.
Housing as a right for all would free relationships from strains and allow people to live in whatever household formations they chose. Housing could be redesigned to support different and more equal kinds of family and work life.
Finally, any desirable housing system would not just be about housing but would have to reconsider the place of homes in a city environment. Not all that has gone wrong in housing in recent years has been the fault of government. Equally destructive have been the many subtle corporate privatisations:91 the decline of collective social space, the growth of gated communities, the rise of the car at the expense of public transport, the disappearance of services (shop, pubs, etc) from villages and suburbs, and the pressure of capitalism to require ever greater mobility of labour forcing people to live further and further from where they work.
Just to develop one of these points, increased car use results in more accidents and injuries, obesity, air pollution and climate change. Car use is greatest in more affluent, suburban homes. Inner-city areas have lower car use, but are more likely to experience car-related noise pollution, the dirtying of the built environment by emissions, and car-related lung and heart disease. Suburban housing is more likely to be separated from work,92 resulting in greater travel times to employment, education, health services and shops.93 It follows that any better alternative would have to involve reconnecting our home and work and social lives. Rather than turn old factories into housing, we need to have mixed-use districts with offices, shops and housing interspersed with each other, reducing the number of long journeys.94
Marx and Engels wrote long ago about the overcoming of the antagonism of the city and the countryside. The way to achieve this would not be on the terms offered by capitalism—ie the endless expansion of suburbia until the whole globe is covered by privately-owned homes, each newly-built property further away from the services needed by its
inhabitants—but by occupying empty housing, by bringing workplaces back to residential areas, and by opening up new green collective spaces (parks, playgrounds, etc) in the cities where workers live.
1: Several of the ideas in the paper were inspired by a seminar given by Owen Hatherley at the London Socialist Historians’ Group; I am also grateful to friends and comrades for discussions in the Housing Emergency campaign and in the housing team at Garden Court chambers. My thanks in particular to Anne Alexander, Paul Burnham, Alex Callinicos, Liz Davies, Keith Flett, Eileen Short and James Woodcock for comments on drafts.
2: Pollard, 1965; Braverman, 1974.
3: In 1900, 89 percent of homes in the UK were rented from private landlords-Office for National Statistics, 2004, p153. By 2007 the proportion had fallen to 9 percent-Office for National Statistics, 2009, p149.
4: Parkinson-Bailey, 2000, p34.
5: Engels, 1887, p72; Hunt, 2009, p107.
6: Briggs, 1999, p269.
7: Stedman Jones, 1992, p216.
8: Mearns, 1883, p4.
9: Hatherley, 2010, p249.
10: Behind Salt, Cadbury and Lever was the example in the previous generation of the proto-socialist Robert Owen. His model village, New Lanarkshire, included a number of spacious stone cottages for mill workers. Where New Lanarkshire differed from Saltaire etc was in emphasising the need for changed relationships between people. Owen, for example, encouraged a workers’ justice system, in which each family would nominate a head of household, the households would choose jurors, and these jurors would determine any matters causing dissension between the families. Police, magistrates and prisons were all kept out of this model community.
11: Quoted in Hall, 2002, pp98-99.
12: Tiller, 1985.
13: These quotations are all from Marx and Engels, 1987, part 1, section C, chapter 2. It was also in The German Ideology that Marx and Engels put forward a vision of “communist society”, as one in which the activities of all occupations (whether ostensibly rural or urban) would be reintegrated, “where nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes, society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner, just as I have a mind”-Marx and Engels, 1987, part 1, section A.
14: The insight that all people should be property owners was the same idea that inspired Ebenezer Howard. While the fashion used to be to term Proudhon a “utopian socialist”, his ideas are a greater attraction to parts of today’s anarchist milieu than they are to any contemporary trend terming itself socialist.
15: Engels, 1970, chapter 1. One reading of the subsequent 140 years is as the triumph of Proudhonism, in the housing sphere at least, without any general progress towards human liberation.
16: Stedman Jones, 1992, pp225-256.
17: Hennessy, 1993, p165.
18: For example, in April 1915 Horatio Bottomley, the jingo patron of the John Bull newspaper, was sent to the Clyde by the government, to address 5,000 workers rumoured to be contemplating strike action. “Half the work of bringing about a better understanding between masters and men”, he told the Glasgow engineers, “has been done by the war itself. You will find new Rules of Trade Unions and Employers’ Federations – on a more humane basis; you will find brotherhood and humanity covering the whole relations in the financial, commercial and industrial field”-Symons, 1955, p178. The rent strike began at Govan shortly after Bottomley’s visit, and continued for a further six months.
19: Cornish and Clark, 1989, p185.
20: Beirne, 1977, pp76-77.
21: An example of the operation of the fair rent procedures is provided by the case of Ahmed v Murphy  EWHC 453 (Admin), which, although recent, was decided under the fair rent laws that have not applied to new tenancies for more than two decades. The tenants held a dilapidated flat on Brick Lane. The market rent was £120 per week, but the fair rent was determined by the High Court to be just £12 per week.
22: The 1918-20 reforms can also be seen as part of a century-long attempt to “replace revolutionary Chartism” with reformism-Cliff, 1957.
23: Holme, 1985, p5.
24: Hennessy, 1993, pp166-168.
25: Collison, 1963; Renton, 1996, pp30-31.
26: Piratin, 1948.
27: Branson, 1989; Hinton 1988, pp100-126; Renton and Eaden, 2002, pp111-112; Hilditch, 2005; Burnham, 2004, pp20-46; Their World This Time, 1998.
28: Hanley, 2007, p61; Hennessy, 1993, p163.
29: Michael Young, in Holme, 1985, pxiv.
30: Morgan, 1984, pp163-170.
31: Beirne, 1977, p200.
32: Hennessy, 1993, p171.
33: When the bailiffs broke in, they found Cook calmly drinking a cup of tea.
34: McIlroy, 2003; Burn, 1972. By 1962 Lawrence had cut his ties to Labour, having joined the Communist Party. Later he was an anarchist, although he continued to work in union campaigns with members of Solidarity and the International Socialists.
35: Bombed by the Austrian fascists during their successful 1934 coup-Hatherley, 2010, pxxxv.
36: On a personal note, my two sons were both born in multi-storey council housing. They grew up and played with children of their own age, who played together safely in the communal corridor. That simply could not happen in a contemporary terrace setting next to a road; parents would be too worried about traffic to allow children aged one or two to walk outside unaccompanied.
37: “In some small way, a socialist society had been achieved in Britain,” writes the historian of council housing Lynsey Hanley in her discussion of the tower blocks: “It’s just that people seemed to find it a dreadful place in which to live”-Hanley, 2007, p133. Compare the positive account of one Glasgow block, the Red Road Flats, that appears in Irvine, 2011.
38: At the time of writing, Balfron Tower has been transferred from council control to ownership by a housing association, Harca, which intends to refurbish the tower, a Grade II listed building. In order to finance the refurbishment, Harca proposes to sell off some, and perhaps all, of the flats. Tenants are being moved out of the building while this refurbishment takes place. The move is opposed by a campaign group, Save Balfron Tower Community.
39: Warburton, 2003, pp153-161. Even Goldfinger, it may be observed, lived in Balfron Tower for several weeks but did not move in there permanently.
40: Hilditch, 2005.
41: Sklair, 1975.
42: Widgery, 1976, pp1-12.
43: Lawless, 1995, p32.
44: South Shields Housing Committee, 1948.
45: Dench, Gavron and Young, 2006, pp45-50.
46: Drake emphasises the difference between these two communities: in 1966, 58 percent of the black population of Brixton were owner occupiers, while in North Kensington 68 percent were in private rental accommodation. In both districts black people had strikingly low levels of access to council properties-Drake, 2001, p86.
47: Rex, 1979, pp77-78.
48: EHRC, 2009, ppviii, 31, 36.
49: Hanley, 2007, p98.
50: Hansard, 1980, volume 976, column 1445 (15 January). Harold Wilson had considered similar proposals after 1974, as had James Callaghan, but they backed down under pressure from Labour councillors, Beckett, 2009, pp422-423.
51: Hanley, 2011.
52: Office for National Statistics, 2009, pp144-147. In 2006 a further 2.2 million homes were rented from registered social landlords.
53: Hanley, 2007, p137.
54: Section 11, Landlord and Tenant Act 1985.
55: Protection from Eviction Act 1977.
56: Section 213, Housing Act 2004, although the scheme has been judicially weakened: Tiensia v Vision Enterprises  EWCA Civ 1224.
57: There had a massive council tenants’ campaign for security during the 1970s and the case had become unanswerable. It is ironic but not accidental that the same statute also introduced the right to buy.
58: McDermont, 2010, pp1, 108-128.
59: DCH, 2009.
60: Mitchell, 2009; Socialist Worker, 2009.
61: Office for National Statistics, 2009, p149.
62: Nationwide, 2011.
63: Net migration to Britain between 1971 and 2007 was roughly 2 million, almost all of this occurring between 1997 and 2007-Office for National Statistics, 2011. Assuming three occupants per property, this accounts for only around 600,000 of the total 5.8 million increase in the number of households.
64: “We now only have shortages of housing in Britain”, Danny Dorling writes, “because we share out our stock so badly – we have never had so many bedrooms per person as we have now”-Dorling, 2011, p86.
65: Office for National Statistics, 2009, p144.
66: Joseph, 1976; Joseph, 1984.
67: Luba, 2010, pp602-603.
68: Home ownership peaked at 70 percent in 2003, had fallen to 67 percent by 2010, and is estimated to be likely to fall to around 60 percent by 2025-Heywood, 2011, p6.
69: Part VII, Housing Act 1996.
70: House of Commons, 2011.
71: Currently squatting is merely a tort, ie a civil wrong, enforceable in the civil court system-Davies, 2011.
72: Section 7 Criminal Law Act 1977.
73: Hazards, 2009.
74: Karn and Sheridan, 1994.
75: “Prejudices about poverty and unemployment converge in the image of the council estate,” writes Owen Jones. “After all, it is not for nothing that ‘chav’ is [said to be] an acronym for ‘Council Housed and Violent’”-Jones, 2011, p206.
76: These tenancies were introduced by the Housing Act 1996, following a consultation entitled “Anti-social Behaviour in Council Estates”-Department of Environment, 1995.
77: Nearly Legal, 2010.
78: This policy of cracking down on anti-social behaviour has continued with the coalition government’s plans to introduce measures under which a council tenant would lose their home if they or a visitor or a member of their household was convicted of a crime against property arising from public disorder, such as the recent riots. The policy is both nasty and illogical (why should a person convicted of criminal damage, which is a minor offence which only in the most exceptional circumstances results in prison sentence, be treated worse than a person convicted of manslaughter or murder? Why should a council tenant lose their home when someone renting in the private sector or owning their home outright would not be punished?).
79: Hatherley, 2009; Hatherley, 2010.
80: Perrin, 2006. The Bemerton is one of the locations for the 2011 film Attack the Block.
81: Bernard v Meisuria, Central London County Court, 22 November 2010.
82: Grand v Gill  EWCA Civ 554.
83: Aslam v Ali, Birmingham County Court, 10 June 2009.
84: HSE v Hussain, Stafford Crown Court, 25 February 2009.
85: Complaint re Harlow District Council, Local Government Ombudsman Report ref 09 0vf05 422.
86: Citizens Advice, 2010, estimates that as a result of these caps 93 percent of rents in Central London will be unaffordable for private tenants reliant on housing benefit.
87: For which the obvious remedy would be the introduction of fair rents in the private rented sector.
88: Boffey and Helm, 2011.
89: Doward, 2010.
90: Morris, 1884, p2.
91: Renton, 2003, pp1-12.
92: One part of the reason why low-density housing seems an egalitarian solution is that it is a vision in which everyone holds their own unit of space. A part of the problem with this model is that people do not inhabit space statically; rather they circulate through it. As Woodcock and Aldred write, “People experience what is apparently ‘the same area’ differently. The same house may have different properties and health effects for the car driver and for the child who cannot cross the congested street, while a frequent flyer’s neighbourhood may include global airports but not the nearby council estate” (2008, p6). It is not a liberation to place millions of people in houses distant from their work, requiring them to travel to work, or to distant out of town shopping centres, and to place everything they need to live at a greater and greater distance from them.
93: Woodcock and others, 2007.
94: Woodcock, and others, 2009.
Beckett, Andy, 2009, When the Lights Went Out: Britain in the Seventies (Faber and Faber).
Beirne, Piers, 1977, Fair Rent and Legal Fiction: Housing Rent Legislation in a Capitalist Society (Macmillan).
Boffey, Daniel, and Toby Helm, 2011, “Eric Pickles warns David Cameron of rise in homeless families risk”, Guardian (2 July).
Branson, Noreen, 1989, London Squatters (Communist Party of Great Britain).
Braverman, Harry, 1974, Labor and Monopoly Capital: The Degradation of Work in the Twentieth Century (Monthly Review Press).
Briggs, Asa. (1999), A Social History of England (Penguin).
Burn, Dave, 1972, St Pancras Rent Strike (Pluto).
Burnham, Paul, 2004, “The Squatters of 1946: A local study in national context”, Socialist History 25.
Citizens Advice 2010, “Housing benefit cuts will cause homes crisis, Citizens Advice warns”, www.citizensadvice.org.uk/press_20100910
Cliff, Tony, 1957, “Economic Roots of Reformism”, Socialist Review, volume 6, number 9 (June), www.marxists.org/archive/cliff/works/1957/06/rootsref.htm
Collison, Peter, 1963, The Cutteslowe Walls: A Study in Social Class (Faber and Faber).
Cornish, W R, and G N Clark, 1989, Law and Society in England 1750–1950 (Sweet & Maxwell).
Davies, Liz, 2011, “Squatters hate Mail’s real agenda”, Morning Star (17 May),
DCH 2009, “Who has voted No”, Defend Council Housing website,
Dench, Geoff, Kate Gavron and Michael Young, 2006, The New East End (Profile).
Department of Environment, 1995, “Anti-social Behaviour in Council Estates: A consultation paper on probationary tenancies”.
Dorling, Danny, 2011, So You Think You Know About Britain? (Constable).
Doward, Jamie, 2010, “Housing benefit cuts: what’s the real truth?”, Observer (31 October),
Drake, J, 2001, “From ‘Colour Blind’ to ‘Colour Bar’: Residential Separation in Brixton and Notting Hill 1948-1975”, in Lawrence Black (ed), Consensus of Coercion? The State and People in Postwar Britain (New Clarion Press).
EHRC, 2009, “Social Housing Allocation and Immigrant Communities”, Equality and Human Rights Commission, www.equalityhumanrights.com/uploaded_files/4_social_housing_allocation_and_immigrant_communities.pdf
Engels, Frederick, 1887, The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844 (Lovell),
Engels, Frederick, 1970 , The Housing Question (Progress), www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1872/housing-question/index.htm
Hall, Peter, 2002, Cities of Tomorrow: An intellectual History of Urban Planning and Design in the Twentieth Century (Blackwell).
Hanley, Lynsey, 2007, Estates; an Intimate History (Granta).
Hanley, Lynsey, 2011, “Who’s Ruling Whom?”, Guardian (11 June),
Hansard 1980, Parliamentary Debates.
Hatherley, Owen, 2009, Militant Modernism (Zero).
Hatherley, Owen, 2010, A Guide to the New Ruins of Great Britain (Verso).
Hazards 2009, “All Fired Up”, Hazards, July-September, www.hazards.org/blacklistblog/2009/08/13/all-fired-up/
Hennessy, Peter, 1993, Never Again: Britain 1945–1951 (Vintage).
Heywood, A, 2011, The End of the Affair: Implications of Declining Home Ownership (Adam Smith Institute).
Hilditch, Kelly, 2005, “Fighting to keep a roof over our heads”, Socialist Worker (18 June)
Hinton, James, 1988, “Self-Help and Socialism: The Squatters’ Movement of 1946”, History Workshop Journal 25.
Holme, Anthea, 1985, Housing and Young Families in East London (Routledge & Kegan Paul).
House of Commons, 2011, Empty Homes, House of Commons Library standard note SN/SP/3012.
Hunt, Tristram, 2009, The Frock–Coated Communist: The Revolutionary Life of Friedrich Engels (Allen Lane).
Irvine, Alison, 2011, This Road is Red (Luath Press).
Jones, Owen, 2011, Chavs: The Demonization of The Working Class (Verso).
Joseph, Michael, 1976, The Conveyancing Fraud (Michael Joseph).
Joseph, Michael, 1984, Lawyers Can Seriously Damage Your Health (Michael Joseph).
Karn, Valerie, and Linda Sheridan, 1994, New Homes in the 1990s: A Study of Design, Space and Amenities in Housing Association and Private Sector Housing.
Lawless, Richard, 1995, Teesside Muslims: Their Migration Histories, Settlement Patterns and Community Development (Cleveland County Council).
Luba, Jan, and others, 2010, Defending Possession Proceedings (Legal Action Group).
Marx, Karl, and Frederick Engels, 1987, The German Ideology (Lawrence & Wishart), www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1845/german-ideology/
McDermont, Morag, 2010, Governing, Independence and Expertise: The Business of Housing Associations (Hart Publishing).
McIlroy, John, 2003, “The Revolutionary Odyssey of John Lawrence”, What Next? 27,
Mearns, Andrew, 1883, The Bitter Cry of Outcast London: An Inquiry into the Condition of the Abject Poor (James Clarke).
Mitchell, Austen, 2009, “Alan Walter”, Guardian (16 March), www.guardian.co.uk/society/2009/mar/16/alan-walter-obituary
Morgan, K O, 1984, Labour in Power 1945–1951 (Clarendon).
Morris, William, 1884, “A Factory as it Might Be”, Justice (17 May), www.marxists.org/archive/morris/works/1884/justice/10fact1.htm
Nationwide, 2011, “Mixed picture across UK regions in first quarter” (31 March), www.nationwide.co.uk/hpi/historical/Q1_2011.pdf
Nearly Legal, 2010, “Brave New World or Same Old Story”, Nearly Legal website
(4 November), http://nearlylegal.co.uk/blog/2010/11/brave-new-world-or-same-old-story/
Office for National Statistics, 2004, Social Trends 34.
Office for National Statistics, 2009, Social Trends 39.
Office for National Statistics, 2011, “Long-Term International Migration Rolling annual data to Q2 2010”.
Parkinson-Bailey, John, 2000, Manchester: An Architectural History (Manchester University Press).
Perrin, William, 2006, “CCTV on the Bemerton estate”, Kings Cross Local Environment Blog (16 December), http://kingscrossenvironment.com/2006/12/16/cctv_on_the_bem/
Piratin, Phil, 1948, Our Flag Stays Red (Lawrence & Wishart).
Pollard, Sidney, 1959, A History of Labour in Sheffield (Liverpool University Press).
Pollard, Sidney, 1965, The Genesis of Modern Management: A Study of the Industrial Revolution in Britain (Edward Arnold).
Renton, Dave, 1996, Red Shirts and Black: Fascists and Anti–fascists in Oxford in the 1930s (Ruskin College Library).
Renton, Dave, 2003, “Economic Globalisation Versus Social Justice? Rosa Luxemburg and the ‘Frontier of Control’”, Society in Transition 34/2.
Renton, Dave, and James Eaden, 2002, The Communist Party of Great Britain since 1920 (Palgrave).
Rex, John, 1979, “Black Militancy and Class Conflict”, in Robert Miles and Annie Phizacklea, Racism and Political Action in Britain (Routledge & Kegan Paul).
Sklair, Leslie, 1975, “The Struggle Against the Housing Finance Act”, Socialist Register,
Socialist Worker, 2009, “Austin Mitchell MP pays tribute to Alan Walter” (14 March),
South Shields Housing Committee, 1948, “Minutes”, South Shields library (16 November).
Stedman Jones, Gareth, 1992, Outcast London: A Study in the Relationship between Classes in Victorian Society (Penguin).
Symons, Julian, 1955, Horatio Bottomley (The Cresset Press).
Their World This Time, 1998, http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8251213679558821017#
Tiller, Kate, 1985, “Charterville and the Chartist Land Company”, Oxoniensia 50,
Warburton, Nigel, 2007, Ernö Goldfinger: The Life of an Architect (Routledge).
Widgery, David, 1976, “Under Capricorn”, International Socialism 91 (first series, September), www.marxists.org/archive/widgery/1976/09/oz.htm
Woodcock, James, and others, 2007, “Energy and Transport”, The Lancet (22 September).
Woodcock, James, and others, 2009, “Public Health Benefits of Strategies to Remove Greenhouse-Gas Emissions: Urban Land Transport”, The Lancet (5 December).
Woodcock, James, and Rachel Aldred, 2008, “Cars, Corporations, and Commodities: Consequences for the Social”, Emerging Themes in Epidemiology, 5:4, www.ete-online.com/content/5/1/4