Stop blaming overcrowded families for the housing crisis!

Write to Southwark council leader Kieron Williams and the councillor for housing and homelessness Stephanie Cryan to call for an end to the bullying and blaming of vulnerable renters.

Why is Southwark Labour council taking private renters to the High Court to blame them for the housing crisis?

On Thursday 5th May Milton and his family are going to the High Court to challenge Southwark council’s cruel and hurtful decision that they are to blame for living in overcrowded housing. Back in 2016 Milton, his wife and their two children rented a tiny studio flat. Due to high rents, welfare cuts, low wages, and discrimination in the private rented sector, this was their only option. The housing crisis means that millions of people across the UK are suffering in overcrowded housing. But instead of helping the family, Southwark council are blaming and penalising them on the housing waiting list.

Does this sound familiar? Yes – Southwark council have a reputation for blaming the victims of the housing crisis. Back in 2020, another HASL family faced a long and stressful legal battle that went to the Court of Appeal where they successfully overturned Southwark council’s decision that their overcrowded housing was a ‘deliberate act’. But Southwark council are happy to drag their residents through the courts on the same issue all over again.

HASL, Public Interest Law Centre (who are representing Milton’s legal case), and over 30 local community groups have been campaigning for years calling on Southwark council to end their use of ‘deliberate act’ which targets families of colour and migrant families. But this cruel policy and the culture of blame continues.

Southwark politicians keep on breaking their promises. In October 2020 Council Leader Kieron Williams publicly stated that people with no other options should not be penalised for living in overcrowded housing. In March 2021 Cllr Stephanie Cryan stated that ‘deliberate act’ would be removed from the housing allocations policy and she promised in March 2022 in a Labour branch meeting that the policy would be stopped immediately.

But right now, Southwark council are going to the High Court again to defend their ‘deliberate act’ decision that they have been punishing Milton’s family with for years. We’re shocked at the immense time, resources and money that the council have spent over the last 4 years targeting this family when they could have been taking on exploitative private landlords and supporting Southwark residents.  

How can Southwark council justify this?

Southwark council must keep their promises and immediately remove ‘deliberate act’, award Milton’s family band 1 on the housing register, and stop wasting public money blaming residents for the housing crisis.

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