Home alone October 19th 2016

‘Home Alone’

–  what problems arise when living alone and how does one cope?

 

Table discussions

Advice will be at hand on accessible services from—

Phillipa Newman, HAIL

(Haringey Association for Independent Living)

Camilla Jacques, Public Voice

(service improvement thorough user involvement)

and others.

Time and date: WEDNESDAY 1.30 pm October 19th 2016

Venue: Hornsey Parish Church Hall,

Cranley Gardens, N10 3AH

Entrance on Cranley Gardens through car park. Served by buses W7 W3 144 stop nearby.  Doors open from 1pm.

Find report of the September 21st meeting here.

 

Meeting on September 21st 2016

‘Young and Old – are we all in it together?’

Speakers: Dot Gibson General Secretary of the National Pensioners Convention and  Seb Klier London Campaigns Manager, Generation Rent

Seb had brought us a presentation entitled ‘The Housing crisis through the eyes of London’s younger population’. 

He explained that his organisation ‘Generation Rent’ was the national voice of private renters, that had developed policies, conducted campaigns and had local groups.  A quarter of Londoners rent   privately—now more than in social housing, 54% of whom are under 35.  22% of 20 –34 year olds live with their parents.

They have no choice. In London the average deposit to buy is £91,000. For the average earner it would take nearly 9 years to save that amount if 1/3 of income could be put aside. Also social housing lists are impossibly long.

Meanwhile private tenants are ripped off and the housing crisis is acknowledged in the media as an election issue.

Seb suggested what could be done. We should regulate Landlords, have a national register, control rents and ban letting agent fees. Note that double charging is common, where both landlord and   tenant pay the agent. In some boroughs local authorities have attempted to impose controls, with local licensing and inspections. 35% of tenants say that their landlord  does not pay attention to      decent standards. Rent levels could be controlled in various ways, but would need government       legislation.

In any case why should the market drive up the cost of homes? Seb mentioned the affordable housing project in the borough, the St. Ann’s Redevelopment Trust (StART: http://www.startharingey.co.uk/). This is one attempt to ensure we get affordable homes.

Seb also commented that too little attention is paid to the provision and maintenance of homes for older people.

Questions included the problems of children leaving home and retaining a room for them and the effects of high accommodation costs on getting enough workers who can afford to live in London and work in public services needed by residents. Seb can be contacted at [email protected].

 

As General Secretary of the NPC, Dot Gibson has promoted the NPC’s Generations United Policy.

Having listened to Seb’s talk she followed with her own very personal story. Dot is old enough to speak for those living before and after WWII.  As a child she witnessed evictions that were a common occurrence in the east end of London. (Janet adds that it was solidarity between east end residents, both Irish and Jewish, against unfair evictions that strengthened the opposition that triumphed against the Fascist march halted at Cable Street on October 4th 1936.)

Rents were high, and if not paid the landlord would remove family and chattels onto the street and change the locks. Dot had lived through this as a child.  Again later, when married with 2 children renting in Streatham she was evicted. Her husband could return to his parents but she was taken into the relief accommodation in all but name a workhouse. This was demeaning, with neither privacy nor dignity.

While there, Dot had another problem. She encouraged the other women to stand up for themselves rather than quarrel amongst themselves; regarded as a trouble maker she was moved to even worse accommodation in borough buildings in Battersea. This was smelly and unhygienic, blue bottles in abundance.  At one point she had to appear before a committee, at which she took her own notes and offended the officiates.

Rescue came in the form of funds supplied by her brother in law to settle in a home.  What about those with no relative to help?

Dot’s message was that tragically we have the same problems today. 

In her role as NPC General Secretary Dot has had to make speeches and answer journalist questions.  Interviewers often separate the problems of Old and Young; they tend to blame the old for the ills suffered by younger people. There is even a parliamentary committee examining ’Intergenerational Fairness’ that claims that ’baby boomers’ are benefitting financially at the expense of younger people.  This committee had suggested reducing universal pensioner benefits, and removing the ‘triple lock’.  The latter is used currently to uprate the Basic State Pension each year according to higher of mean wage levels, CPI or 2.5%. Yet our UK pension is next to lowest of all OECD pensions, having been eroded over the years. The triple lock protects against further erosion.

In response the NPC with Unite the union have produced a pamphlet entitled ‘Uniting the Generations’ in response to the Intergenerational Fairness debate.