Since September 2018, we have been organising with two different groups of tenants – one who had their deposit stolen by G4Lets, and one living in accommodation in a serious state of disrepair. We’re pleased to report that both of these situations concluded well, with the first group of tenants receiving £1000 back from their stolen deposit, and the second group receiving a rent reduction for the poor quality of their accommodation, and with the works being carried out. Below is the story of these two disputes, particularly how they relate to our previous disputes with G4Lets and the tactics we used in these two most recent disputes.
A tenant organising with Brighton Solidarity Federation has had £450 of her deposit returned following erroneous deductions by The Property Shop. After a long and arduous process, the Deposit Protection Service (MyDeposits) found in favour of the tenant and demanded that a portion of her deposit, which had been withheld by the agency, be returned.
We have concluded our dispute with Fox & Sons after a second landlord quit the agency following a short direct action campaign against their business. This follows another landlord who quit the agency in February after a similar campaign. Our campaign against Fox & Sons has been ongoing for four and a half months, and the loss of these landlords – from whom Fox & Sons would have taken 16% of the rent for a full management service, on top of all the fees they charge – coupled to the damage to their business caused by the campaign, is likely to have cost them thousands of pounds.
On Saturday 19th January Manchester SolFed organised our fourth picket in support of six Brighton tenants. We picketed the Skipton Building society branch on Market Street in the centre of Manchester. Brighton SolFed’s public campaign against Fox & Sons has now been extended to their parent company, Skipton Building Society. With Fox & Sons still refusing to compensate the six tenants whose tenancy they cancelled five days after it was supposed to start, leaving them with nowhere to live, Brighton SF contacted David Cutter, the chief executive of Skipton, and Gary Morton of their lettings branch Connells, to demand that they resolve the issue. Both Mr Cutter and Mr Morton refused to do so, meaning that Brighton SF on Saturday 19th January extended the campaign to pickets of Skipton branches across the country.
Brighton SolFed’s public campaign against Fox & Sons has now been extended to their parent company, Skipton Building Society. With Fox & Sons still refusing to compensate the six tenants whose tenancy they cancelled five days after it was supposed to start, leaving them with nowhere to live, we contacted David Cutter, the chief executive of Skipton, and Gary Morton of their lettings branch Connells, to demand that they resolve the issue. Both Mr Cutter and Mr Morton refused to do so, meaning that we are today (Saturday 19th January) extending our campaign to pickets of Skipton branches across the country. This follows an initial picket of Skipton by Manchester SolFed last Saturday 12th January.
After the collapse of Carillion, anyone with a modicum of common sense could see that the policy of outsourcing is, shall we say, just slightly problematic. But not the free market crazies currently running the country. It has now emerged that the lifetime value of outsourcing contracts awarded in 2017-18 rocketed by 53%, from £62bn to £95bn, with nearly £2bn in contracts being awarded to Capita and Interservice, despite both recently issuing profit warnings.
On Saturday 12th Jan Manchester SolFed picketed Skipton Building Society in support of 6 Brighton tenants. The tenants have been organising with Brighton SolFed after being treated appallingly by the Brighton letting agency, Fox and Sons. The company, Fox and Sons, is owned by the Connells group, one of the largest estate agency and property services providers in the UK, which last year made £104.2m in profits. In turn, the Connells group is owned by the ever so friendly - we do not have shareholders - Skipton Building Society. Saturday's picket was part of an escalation of the dispute with pickets taking place in Bristol, Manchester and Brighton in support of the 6 tenants
For more information on the dispute see our previous post or go to http://www.brightonsolfed.org.uk/
Following on from our recent post on the World Bank and climate change comes more bad news from the Bank. In the World Bank’s flagship 2019 World Development Report, entitled the Changing Nature of Work, the Bank argues for wide-ranging deregulation of labour; deemed necessary to prepare countries for the changing nature of work. The report sets out a nice cosy capitalist future under which firms will be relieved of the burden of contributing to social security, have the flexibility to pay wages as low as they think fit and have the power to fire people at will.