Sunday, 28 April 2013


Protest against Poundland!

This Saturday 4th May, Radical Islington members will be picketing Poundland on Seven Sisters Road, in opposition to their use of workfare. The action is organised jointly with North London Solidarity Federation.

Come and join the fight against unpaid labour, greedy bosses and capitalist exploitation!
When: Sat 4th May, 12pm.
Where: Poundland, 39-41 Seven Sisters Road

Workfare is a government scheme in which unemployed people are bullied into working for their Jobseekers' Allowance benefits. People on the Workfare scheme are forced to stack shelves for up to 30 hours a week, working out to an hourly wage of just £1.60. 

Workfare profits the rich by providing free labour, whilst threatening the poor by taking away welfare rights if people refuse to work without a living wage. It affects all of us by reducing jobs and giving employers the green light to cut hours and reduce wages.

In response to a growing movement of opposition to the Workfare scheme, a number of companies have quit the programme, while the government has released a steady stream of untruths. So join the movement!

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Day of Action Against Letting Agents - Sat 27th April

Been Let Down By a Letting Agency? 

Join the Letting Agent Monopoly - Islington Green, 12 noon, Sat 27th April

Our friends at Islington Private Tenants are organising a tour of some local letting agents with a MONOPOLY themed action.

They’ll have props and banner to give out on the day but please bring anything else you have including:
  • Banners/ ‘adapted’ letting agent placards
  • Monopoly props like top hats and monopoly money
  • Anything to make noise with!

RSVP on Facebook if you can:

This action is being organised by local people from north and east London including  the private tenant groups Islington Private Tenants, Digs (Hackney), and Tower Hamlets Renters. If you have any questions or ideas, please email

When: Saturday 27 April, 12 noon
Meet: Islington Green, N1 8DU

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The problem with Letting Agents

High rents – research conducted by Shelter found that one in five landlords increase their rents because their letting agent encouraged them to. By contrast, only 4% of landlords increased their rent because they were facing increased costs.

Extortionate, bogus fees – letting agents provide a service to landlords, and charge them for doing so. Yet recently letting agents have started charging bogus fees to tenants as well, often in the region of £300-400 per person just for “admin”, “reference checks” or even “renewing a tenancy”. In Scotland, it is illegal for letting agents to charge tenants any fees.

Discrimination – many lettings agents refuse to let to any tenants in receipt of housing benefit. A recent ‘mystery shopping’ exercise by Crisis found that less than 2% of shared rental properties are available to young single people on benefits. We’ve also come across stories of renters being discriminated against by letting agents because of their gender or race, while Trailblazers, a network of young campaigners with disabilities, have highlighted the poor service their members have received from letting agents.

Unregulated – an amendment to a parliamentary bill on 16 April 2013 means that letting agents will now have to sign up to an ombudsman scheme, and the Office of Fair Trading will have the power to ban those who act improperly. However, it’s still possible for anyone to set up a lettings agency, without any qualifications, need to conform to any code of conduct or provide safeguards.

Profiting from insecurity – letting agents make money from people moving, rather than remaining secure in their homes and putting down roots in a community. According to the English Housing Survey, over a third (35%) of private renters have been in their home for less than a year, compared to 3% of home owners and 8% of social renters.

 For further information, see:

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Social Housing on Mount Pleasant? Royal Mail will not deliver

ROYAL Mail has organised a new exhibition about the Mount Pleasant development so people can see the progress being made on the project.

Sadly, no significant changes have been made to the initial proposal. This is despite earlier feedback given at the first exhibition and the strong feelings expressed against most aspects of the development at the Holiday Inn public meeting in November.

This should come as no surprise though. All Royal Mail is doing here is ticking the “consultation process” box. This hollow procedure may give some a sense of democracy but will only damage the community by delivering what promises to be one of the worst developments Islington has seen in years.

If anything, the development looks worse as details of the design emerge. It is an extremely dense development, which will impact heavily on nearby residents and offer crammed housing for the new ones.
Despite what the architects say, the height and design of the buildings (up to 15 storeys) are not in keeping with the wider area, which consists mostly of Victorian and Georgian houses and low rises.

Most shockingly, it is estimated that the proportion of so-called “affordable housing” will only be around 20 per cent. With rents that can be charged up to 80 per cent of market price, everyone knows that “affordable housing” is everything but.

The 20 per cent on offer is a disgrace. What this means is 80 per cent exclusive flats and the gentrification of yet another part of the borough. Expect fancy shops and restaurants, and the usual corporate chains of coffee shops that exploit their staff and avoid paying taxes.

Islington Council says it is committed to 50 per cent affordable housing in large developments. This should be a minimum and the Mount Pleasant development should not be exempt.

What this development should deliver is genuinely affordable social-rented housing. With the austerity measures and the cap on housing benefits, a growing number of people can no longer afford a decent home in the borough. We cannot allow them to be let down in the name of profit.

It is clear by now we cannot trust Royal Mail or anyone to deliver what is needed for the community with this development. It is also clear that nothing will be achieved through the official channels of “consultation”. A solid and collective opposition needs to be built if we want to stand any chance of getting anything out of this development other than an anti-social eyesore.