Yesterday I also spoke at the Shelter fringe meeting on housing. I started by highlighting one scandalous case from Hornsey and Wood Green:
I went to visit in their own home a constituent with a housing problem. “Housing problem” doesn’t begin to describe the situation. Nice three bedroom flat – but the flat didn’t start until the first floor. And to get to the first floor you had to mount a narrow and long staircase.
Now, the daughter – quadriplegic – had to be carried up and down that staircase. That was barely manageable when they moved in and she was five – but now she was eleven. The father worked and his work meant he wasn’t there to help. And the little brother was too small and young.
When I went in, I met the daughter – who was strapped vertically to a contraption that enabled her to be placed in front of a television to entertain her in the hours and hours that she had to spend immobile. She had no movement in any limb, couldn’t speak, but she could see and hear and her brain function and understanding were normal. I can’t even begin imagine what that is like.
For over five years since they applied to move to a ground floor – they were told – no three bedroom ground floor accommodation had become available – in the whole borough!
Five years – no progress. I mean, goodness me, the council could have gone down to the local estate agents and purchased a new house – if they’d really wanted to fix the problem. Because you see – this wasn’t a case of the council saying, “sorry, we’ve got no money” – although that often is an issue – but instead it was a case of the deadhand of bureaucracy mindlessly churning through the administrative wheels without any real desire to fix the problem.
I want on to talk about how we should change the housing system, as you can read about in the full speech.