Summer of campaigning success

28 September 2009

Group of campaigners

Our Campaigns team and public network of campaigners have been very busy recently, as they’ve fought to keep housing in the public eye and at the top of the Government’s agenda. Here’s a round-up of what they’ve been doing over the last six months….

Interested in becoming a Shelter campaigner? Sign up here

April – Housing is a top Budget priority

Our campaigners played a key part in influencing Government spending for the year ahead in April. They sent emails and letters to their MPs, who then put pressure on the Government for more funds for housing. Along with education, health and jobs, housing was high up in the Budget list of priorities, making it one of the cornerstones of economic recovery. A total of £1 billion was allocated to housing initiatives, including £500 million to house building. Since then there have been further announcements of money to promote house building, particularly to fund more affordable housing.

May – Shelter fights for tenants’ rights

In May, the Government announced that they will be changing the law so that courts will be able to postpone the repossession of landlords' properties, giving tenants the time to find somewhere else to live. As the law stands, tenants whose landlords are repossessed have none of the legal rights that usually protect tenants from losing their homes without notice. Shelter has been putting pressure on government to make this reform for several months and mounted a successful joint campaign with Citizens Advice, Crisis and the Chartered Institute of Housing.

June – MP support for new South West homes won

June saw Shelter giving evidence to the South West Regional Select Committee, which demonstrated to regional MPs the terrible effects that the current recession has had on the housing situation of people living in the region. MPs stated there is clearly a need for more homes, particularly affordable homes, to be delivered urgently in the South West.

The summer was a busy time for our regional campaigners across the country. In the South East, Shelter joined forces with key housing organisations to ensure that local and regional government deliver the affordable homes that the region desperately needs.

In London, Shelter lobbied the Greater London Authority as they developed their housing strategy. The strategy sets ambitious targets for affordable home-building, and aims to halve severe overcrowding in social housing by 2016. Shelter is putting pressure on the Mayor to extend this to the private sector, too.

July – Overcrowding figures hit the headlines

Shelter has been making itself heard in the media over the last few months. In July we highlighted the shocking statistic that over one million children are currently living in overcrowded accommodation and called for more family sized homes to be built.

The next month saw the announcement by the Council of Mortgage Lenders that over 24,000 families had their homes repossessed during the first half of 2009.  Shelter reacted to the news by calling on lenders to allow homeowners in arrears to move their mortgage from high fixed rates onto low variable rates, saving them hundreds of pounds every month and allow them to keep up repayments while paying off their arrears.

August – Shelter speaks out at Westminster

August saw the publication of the Treasury Select Committee's report into mortgage arrears and access to mortgage finance, which included many points made to the Commitee by Shelter earlier in the summer. We were invited to give evidence to the Committee to give our view on how mortgage providers are handling people who are finding it difficult to make their repayments. Shelter delivered a robust argument around how lender behaviour and flaws in the regulatory system are severely affecting those already in financial need.

September - Shelter sponsors major campaigner award

In September, Shelter’s Chief Executive, Sam Younger, attended the Sheila McKechnie Foundation’s (SMK) 2009 Campaigner Awards. The awards recognise the outstanding contribution that a new generation of campaigners is making towards achieving social, environmental and economic justice both in the UK and abroad.

Shelter has been a proud sponsor of the Social Inclusion Award since 2005 when SMK was established and Sam was there to see this year’s winner, David Watkins, receive the award.  David won for his ‘A Day In Hand’ campaign, to inspire and support same-sex couples who want to hold hands in public.