The Battle for Social Housing

The Leeds-based Ford-Maguire Society is hosting a meeting on social housing next month which will look back at early campaigns for public housing and ask what lessons there are for housing policy today.

Featuring a talk, by Quentin Bradley on the Leeds rent strikes of 1914 and 1934, entitled, ‘The battle for social housing and the birth of the tenants’ movement’, the meeting will look at who ‘deserves’ to live in social housing and who is social housing intended to house.Rent strike copy

These questions have plagued housing policy in England and have resulted in some bitter disputes. The talk by Bradley, a senior lecturer in housing at Leeds Metropolitan University who has worked with tenants’ organisations for 15 years, will go back to the origins of social housing and the campaign by tenants and the labour movement for public house building in 1914.

It will track what happened to social housing in Leeds in the following decades and reveal how tenants in 1934 reacted to attempts to ration access and reduce social housing to a welfare safety net. This ‘hidden’ history of tenants in Leeds casts a fresh and intriguing light on the public policy questions of today.

Formed in 1994, the Ford-Maguire Society organises events around the socialist, feminist and radical history of Leeds. It is named after Isabella Ford and Tom Maguire, two notable Leeds socialist pioneers from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The Leeds Rent Strikes 1914 and 1934: the battle for social housing and the birth of the tenants’ movement, by Quentin Bradley, is on Wednesday 26 September at 7pm in AG10 (‘the Boardroom’), Broadcasting Place, Woodhouse Lane, Leeds LS2 9EN.

Contact Matthew Caygill for more details: