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Government needs to put housing and poverty at the top of its agenda

Government needs to put housing and poverty at the top of its agenda
Tionne Parris

Tionne Parris

2 min read

In the 1950s, communist and anti-racist activist Claudia Jones identified one of the fundamental concerns for the West Indian community in Britain as: “The constant pressure and concern with daily problems of survival.”

A beloved figure in Black British history, Jones’s analysis remains prescient for Black communities across the United Kingdom today. 

The increasing prominence of changemakers, like 23-year-old social housing activist Kwajo Tweneboa, shining light on families forced to live with mould, rats and flooding reflects the growing deprivation that many continue to face. Black African, mixed white and Black African and Black Caribbean households are those most likely to rent social housing. The Commons Levelling Up Committee recently found that more than 500,000 homes in the social rented sector fail to meet the decent homes standard. Although former levelling up secretary Michael Gove met briefly with Tweneboa in May, it remains to be seen exactly what this government plans to do to tackle housing inequality on an effective and long-term basis. Meeting with individuals is not enough. Government needs to prioritise liaising with communities directly. 

Alongside ongoing social housing problems, our communities are facing the brunt of the current cost of living crisis. Black families have some of the lowest incomes in Britain – 46 per cent of all families living in poverty are Black. Poverty breeds discontent, and the recent killing of Chris Kaba by the Metropolitan Police – who have been on special measures since June following multiple scandals – means that the 2020 rise in support for the Black Lives Matter movement will not die down.  

Although the Conservative Party lauds the diversity of skin colour among its frontbenchers, many do not represent the diversity of experience of young Black British people across Britain. Their problems persist and their struggle continues. The Conservative government needs to do more to address the myriad of issues facing the Black community. 

Tionne Parris is a PhD student at the University of Hertfordshire and a coordinator of the Young Historians Project.

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