David Cameron made a massive speech at the Conservative Party conference about increasing the levels of ‘right-to-buy’ council houses, but according to Restoration Man George Clarke, the PM’s half-baked idea doesn’t take into account the fact that 1.5 million properties have been taken out of the housing system due to that old Tory mantra since the ’80s. To be fair to poor old Dave, the current housing crisis has more causes than you can shake a four-by-two at and tonight C4 kicks-off a season of programming that sheds light upon the shocking condition of the British housing system and the way it can ruin communities.
Like Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall before him, Clarke’s passion for the situation is evident and quite justified. Before we see a single boarded up house, the shocking statistics start flying about, yet there’s only one that really counts. Two million British families don’t have adequate housing and one million homes lie empty. One of the first people we meet is Emma, a young mum with two children who lives in a crap house in Liverpool. Emma and her kids have been moved ten times by the council and she’s been forced to drop her medical studies because of the stress. None of the lights work in her current pad, there’s damp everywhere and her son’s bedroom is practically a cupboard with a bed in it. Meanwhile, just down the road there’s a perfectly good house that sits unused. Unfortunately the red tape involved in renovating the new property and moving someone in is epic, which is why Clarke is campaigning for a change in the law.
By the end of tonight’s episode, George has managed to move Emma & Co. into the new place and he’s setting himself a target of moving other families into freshly rejuvenated properties in Manchester and Birmingham before Christmas. With the second-part of this double-header airing tomorrow, we can expect to see growing support for another much-needed C4 campaign.