We attended the People's Assembly Cost of Living Demo on April 2nd - a 'rolling rally' where the march was interspersed with stopping points for speeches on the way. The PCS Samba Band accompanied the demo and GMTU Member Solidarity officer Chris Moore spoke at the Market Street rally stop. This is what he had to say:
Coming into 2022 we were already at a disadvantage.
While homeowners and landlords were offered mortgage holidays during covid, there was no similar provision for tenants.
While house prices have shot up, leaving those with assets looking at a tidy profit, some of those on the lowest incomes were still expected to pay full rent while they lost 20% of their income due to furlough or lost their jobs completely in some cases.
While many were already struggling to pay rent and many in arrears, along came the cost of living and energy price crises.
Already, many renters are having to choose between keeping a roof over their heads or putting food in their bellies - but rents are beginning to rise.
Social housing providers are entitled to increase rents by RPI + 1% so with inflation predicted to reach as much as 7 or 8 percent the most vulnerable tenants are facing soaring rent bills. Private landlords have no such restrictions so their tenants can expect an even greater hike as murderous market logic rears its head, while their mortgage payments remain at pre-crisis levels and their assets appreciate all the time.
The poorest in society didn't cause this crisis, but once again they are being asked to pay for it, and in fact, while the landlords and energy executives who now expect bumper profits sat in their nice big houses it was these poorest, overwhelmingly renters, disportionately black and minority ethnic people who brought them their Deliveroos and Ocados and went out to make sure that society still functioned, being paid poverty wages and bearing the brunt of the pandemic.
The rental system in this country is the root of so many problems with the deck stacked against renters as property is treated like a speculative asset. We see skyscrapers full of luxury flats rising all around us and yet the housing waiting lists are growing, in some cases social housing cleared out and the residents dispersed in favour of private developments.
We call for a widespread drive to build good quality, sustainable council housing, rent caps across all tenures and a retrofitting campaign and enforcement to ensure all rented homes meet emissions standards and reduce energy bills.
Please join Greater Manchester Tenants Union to help fight for renters' rights!
We support the People's Assembly campaign to keep the cost of living crisis on the agenda and change the political will in this country to provide a sustainable solution for all!