A CO-OPERATIVE FUTURE FOR STUDENTS – BEYOND TUITION FEES #9

By Lewis Martin

It is a time of extraordinary potential for change in UK Higher Education. Labour’s promise to end tuition fees has defied the critics and united many behind Corbyn’s political project. But what will the implications for universities be if this comes to pass? And what can we do to leverage this progress? In this series, the Norwich Radical and Bright Green are bringing together perspectives from across the sector to explore these questions.

Up and down the UK, from Edinburgh to Brighton, students are building alternatives to existing, exploitative housing and food practices. How? By creating co-operatives! These alternative ways of organising are expanding and flourishing at a rate never seen before, as students look to take their lives into their own hands, in defiance of the rising cost of living and exploitative landlords and businesses. The founding of Student Co-operative Homes, a launch pad organisation for potential student housing co-ops across the UK founded by the grassroots network Students for Co-operation and supported by national co-op federation Co-Ops UK, demonstrates the growing support for these independent, democratic projects.

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“MORE POWERFUL THAN LANDLORDS CAN POSSIBLY IMAGINE” – THE SUSSEX RENT STRIKE

by Lewis Martin

Last week, students living in accommodation at the University of Sussex staged a rent strike, and successfully achieved their goals in the space of three days. The university has capitulated and agreed to £65,000 of compensation for the students who live in the halls due to the appalling state they are currently in.

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GRENFELL & BRITAIN’S SOCIAL HOUSING CRISIS

by Lewis Martin

CW: discusses the Grenfell tower fire

I grew up in social housing. The estate I lived in was split between those who were lucky enough to own their house and those who relied upon housing associations to provide accommodation for them. The latter group, which includes my family, found that their houses were painted an obnoxiously bright yellow, for no other reason than to make those houses easily identifiable to the housing association and the rest of the neighbours. It was a big bright mark to ensure it was known that you lived in social housing.

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INSULT & INJURY – THE STUDENT LETTINGS RIPOFF

By Alex Powell

In 2014, the NUS reported that three quarters of students had suffered issues with privately rented accommodation. Such a high proportion is indicative of an endemic problem within the private rental market, a problem that disproportionately impacts students. Since the publication of this report, the problem has only gotten worse, as inflationary pressures have pushed up the price of rents while student loans have remained stagnant. Students now face more issues with finding decent housing than ever before, and many are left living in less than ideal conditions, to say the least.

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IN DEFENCE OF SOCIAL PROPERTY: ‘KILL THE HOUSING BILL’, RENT STRIKES, AND OTHER CALAMITIES

by George Laver

On 13th March 2016, a rally took place in support of the ‘kill the housing bill’ campaign, aimed at confronting governmental attacks on council and social property and redressing our attitudes towards it. Since then, numerous student-led rent strikes have also ignited. The cause for anger in both of these movements stems from different stimuli, but both address issues of rent and property.

The first, from the legacy of Thatcher’s ‘right to buy’ scheme, which initially undermined council housing; the final blows were to come from this Housing and Planning Bill. The second, from the frankly ridiculous cost of rent that is borne by students in London — although this could extend across the UK, as many students will readily testify to the advantage-taking circus that are landlords. Geared towards annihilating social housing, the Housing and Planning Bill in particular aims at increasing the rent payments of council house tenants in wealthier areas. A natural product of this would be the forcing of people out of their council houses and into the arms of another set of robbers — or, private landlords.

In response to this, the demonstration of March 13th attracted thousands of protesters, targeting their motions towards the fact that sharp increases in rent would facilitate an eviction of council tenants in all but name. These issues should be labelled for what they are: the government taking control of people’s very lifestyles. By increasing rent prices, they are forcing movement; it seems to bear many similarities to a covert attempt to stimulate the private housing sector. Once again, their interests lie in private property — we are merely pawns on the board.

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BORDERLINES – OH, I DON’T MEAN YOU

Borderlines is a collection of thought pieces, some creative, some direct accounts, some memoirs, all true. Borderlines collects stories from people who are not fleeing from one country to another, but rather chose to move, or were made to do so by a series of non-threatening circumstances. In these stories there is anger, hope, disappointment, joy, fear, optimism. They are all different, and yet all striking in their approach to the subject matter.

Borderlines aims to show the reality of migration, and how we are all, in our own way, migrants.Continue Reading