Tuesday 9pm – 10pm, Channel 4
It has been 100 years since the Health Minister, Lord Addison created the concept and built council houses. He paved the way for the introduction of The Housing Act 1919, which allowed funding for councils to build half a million homes over three years. It was this action that established the principle of large scale, state-funded provision of council housing at low rents. Today however, council housing is at an all time low, with only 2 million properties across the country, a huge drop from 6 million in 1980. The dramatic decrease in affordable housing has left thousands of families across the UK living in appalling temporary accommodation, including 100000 children passing from room to room on almost a daily basis.
George Clarke is disgusted at the situation that consecutive governments have failed to address – the lack of investment and building of new affordable housing. In this documentary he explores the reasons for the decline and lack of action. He looks at visionaries of the past and the best and worst examples of current council housing across the globe, determined to demonstrate that the UK needs to do better.
Council estates are close to Clarke’s heart, he himself grew up in a council house in Washington, near Sunderland. His mother still lives in the same house, although she now owns it. It is here the programme starts and Clarke explores how many people have taken the right to purchase council houses, but authorities have failed to replace them, leaving many people turning to the emergency accommodation circle. The journey then takes Clarke and his team to Vienna, a fantastic example of how council housing should be done – communities of affordable housing that have fantastic amenities including parks, pedestrianised areas and even swimming pools!
As an ambassador for Shelter, the housing and homelessness charity, Clarke meets people directly affected by the UK’s ineffective policies, he recalls how one family ended up sleeping in their car in an Asda car each night as no accommodation was available.
Clarke demonstrates that building great housing is not rocket science and with the right team it can be done. He speaks with the government to present his findings and challenges them to building 100000 new affordable houses each year for 5 years. He also launches his own campaign to start the challenge.
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