Birmingham City Council acted unlawfully by putting homeless citizens in unsuitable and sometimes dangerous housing.
The High Court delivered a judgement on Friday 23rd April, finding that the Birmingham council “had been operating an unlawful system for the performance of its main housing duty under the Housing Act 1996”, as the council had been leaving tenants in unsuitable accommodation while seeking alternative long term or permanent housing.
One claimant, listed in a report from the BBC, is disabled with multiple serious health conditions and requires a power wheelchair. This person had been placed in a two bedroom home since 2018. As the home was deemed a temporary residence no adaptations were made to accommodate the claimants requirements which would have allowed them to live more comfortably with their disability. Three years later this person is still residing in the so called “temporary accommodation”, still without changes made to the property to make it suitable and functional.
In the last few years Birmingham council has sold off a number of valuable public and community assets in order to fund cuts and redundancies, including the sale of thousands of public housing flats and community nurseries which have now been privatised. It was easy to foresee that these cuts and sell offs would lead to a shortage of suitable public housing and community services for those most in need.
Meanwhile, Birmingham council sits on financial reserves of over £400 million which is projected to reach over £450 million by 2023. Why then are the council pushing for ever more cuts to basic services for working people? Why are they selling off public housing to developers when poverty is on a sharp incline and we know that the demand for public housing is going to skyrocket? Why are they unable to fund even the most basic adaptations to public housing so people with disabilities can live comfortably and with dignity?
We will soon realise the full scale of the financial crisis as the country exits lockdown and the furlough scheme will draw to a close. We anticipate rapid increases to unemployment and underemployment and with that rising poverty all with fewer public resources to support the people.
It is not acceptable for the council to claim there is a housing shortage in their defence of the unlawful treatment of people in their housing program. The council has manufactured its own housing shortage while it sits on a pile of almost half a billion in cash. Who is this money for? Where will it be spent? Certainly not on the struggling working people of Birmingham.
The Workers Party branch meanwhile has been campaigning for many months for FREE bus travel for children across the West Midlands, a move with obvious benefits for work, education and public peace that would cost a mere £7 million.
These are the sorts of measures that can improve the lives of Birmingham’s poorest right now, and we call on like minded people in the city to join with us in fighting to make them a reality.