George Clarke: 60,000 sign petition as council homes campaign builds momentum

TV architect and Big Issue cover star George Clarke's petition, aimed at persuading the government to build 100,000 council houses a year, wins massive approval on its first day

More than 60,000 people have rushed to sign a petition set up by The Big Issue‘s current cover star, George Clarke, pushing the government to build more council houses.

The architect and television presenter is making a big political noise following the broadcast of his latest documentary, George Clarke’s Council House Scandal, which aired this week on Channel 4.

In this week’s Big Issue, Clarke explains why the issue is so important to him. “I was brought up on a council housing estate and I saw how really good, well-designed houses in a well-designed with great public spaces and public amenities created a great community,” he says.

“Until those in power really fully understand how transformative a good, affordable, decent home can be for people we are never going to solve the housing crisis.”

Clarke’s petition challenges the government to build 100,000 council houses per year for the next 30 years. This would see three million new council homes built in an ambitious long-term plan to tackle the UK housing crisis.

If that sounds a lot, it is less than the reduction of council house numbers since 1979, when 6.5million council houses were home to around 42% of the population. Following almost 40 years of Margaret Thatcher’s controversial Right To Buy policy, only two million council houses remain. Clarke dubs the Right To Buy policy: “Tory bribery” in our no-holds-barred interview, adding “it is bribing one generation and pulling a ladder up from the next generation coming through.”

Why is the campaign so important? Because more than one million people are currently on waiting lists for council houses and in urgent need of long-term, secure, safe and affordable accommodation. There are also almost 125,000 children in temporary or unsuitable accommodation.

“The welfare state was built on health, education and housing,” says Clarke. “If you decide to ignore housing, it is a farce, isn’t it?”

Sign George Clarke’s petition here…

Image: Channel 4

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George Clarke on the cover of this week's Big Issue