Since the Grenfell fire tragedy, the Conservatives’ record on housing has come under intense scrutiny. The public tower block wasn’t fitted with sprinklers, lacked sufficient fire alarms, and only had one exit. While Prime Minister last year, David Cameron was one of 72 landlord MPs to vote against ensuring ordinary homes were “fit for human habitation”.
But there are a number of housing luxuries that Conservative politicians have found the money for.
1) Peter Viggers’ floating duck house
Former Conservative MP Peter Viggers tried to charge the taxpayer £1,600 for a floating duck house. The MP for Gosport sat in the Commons for 26 years before revelations about his expenses forced him to stand down in 2010.
Over three of those years, Viggers claimed £30,000 from the taxpayer for “gardening”. Meanwhile, many people in social housing have had to endure worsening conditions. Campaigners for safety in the Grenfell Tower in Grenfell Action Group wrote in November 2016:
It is a truly terrifying thought but the Grenfell Action Group firmly believe that only a catastrophic event will… bring an end to the dangerous living conditions and neglect of health and safety legislation that [the landlords] inflict upon their tenants and leaseholders.
A chilling message. More broadly, research from Ipsos MORI shows that nearly one in five homes in the UK do not meet the criteria for “decent conditions”, which includes fire safety. Although it’s unclear how many do not meet the criteria specifically because of fire hazards.
2) £369m Buckingham Palace ‘refurbishment’
The taxpayer will fund £369m worth of “urgent” repairs to Buckingham Palace, spanning over ten years. In the wake of the Grenfell fire, many people have called out the Conservative government’s warped priorities:
— Captain Haggerty (@AngelaHaggerty) June 16, 2017
Buckingham Palace has 240 bedrooms.
Grenfell Tower had 120 flats.
One has £370million refit & the other couldn't get alarms or sprinklers
— Irish, Republican & Proud (@IRP1916) June 16, 2017
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) June 17, 2017
The Queen already receives a massive 15% of the revenue from estate land, while ordinary families share the rest. To pay for the refurbishment, the Queen will receive 25% of that revenue for ten years.
3) Cleaning David Cameron’s chimney
Former Prime Minister David Cameron tried to charge the taxpayer £680 for repairs to his home, including removing wisteria from his chimney. Other house work the multi-millionaire attempted to charge the public for included replacing outside lights and fixing his conservatory roof.
The Conservatives have continuously presided over socialism for the rich, leaving ordinary people in precarity. While handing the royals an extra £369m to refurbish their palace, the government doesn’t even ensure sprinkler systems are installed in public housing. An absolute disgrace.
– If you are concerned about anyone from Grenfell Tower, call the Casualty Bureau on 0800 0961 233 or 0207 158 0197.
– Donate to the Grenfell Tower Appeal.
– Also read more articles on the housing crisis by The Canary.
– Sign the petition calling for the royals pay for their own refurbishment
We know everyone is suffering under the Tories - but the Canary is a vital weapon in our fight back, and we need your support
The Canary Workers’ Co-op knows life is hard. The Tories are waging a class war against us we’re all having to fight. But like trade unions and community organising, truly independent working-class media is a vital weapon in our armoury.
The Canary doesn’t have the budget of the corporate media. In fact, our income is over 1,000 times less than the Guardian’s. What we do have is a radical agenda that disrupts power and amplifies marginalised communities. But we can only do this with our readers’ support.
So please, help us continue to spread messages of resistance and hope. Even the smallest donation would mean the world to us.