UK
17/03/2015 17:46 GMT | Updated 18/03/2015 05:59 GMT

Ken Loach Gives Rallying Cry Against Britain's Housing Crisis: 'It's Worse Than A Horror Story'

Britain's housing crisis is worse now than a half century ago when the issue was thrust into the limelight by a gritty TV play, its director Ken Loach warned.

The veteran film-maker said the situation British families still found themselves in, generations after his groundbreaking 1966 film Cathy Come Home, was "a disgrace".

Loach, who also directed The Wind That Shakes the Barley, received a rapturous reception at a rally which brought thousands of campaigners to London to demand action on the issue, and his name trended on Twitter as he spoke out about today's housing crisis.

Jonathan Dimbleby hosted the event for over 2,500 people, which was believed to have been the biggest housing rally in British history.

homes for britain

The social realist filmmaker "raised the roof" at the large rally

homes for britain

Loach said today's housing crisis is worse than in the 1960s

Loach told the enthusiastic crowds that housing had slipped down the agenda and the country's housing provision was in a far, far worse state than when he directed the seminal work Cathy Come Home.

The documentary-style film told the story of Cathy and Reg, who are evicted from their home and survive by illegally squatting and living in homeless shelters.

A television industry poll in 2000 rated it as the second best British television programme ever made.

A clip from Cathy Come Home

"When Cathy Come Home was made, homelessness was a major issue. Husbands were separated from their families because they had no home, there was terrible poverty accommodation, it was a horror story," Loach told the rally.

"It is much worse now, much worse now. 93,000 kids homeless. What a disgrace in this rich country.

"Tens of thousands of families have their lives in chaos and the politicians who are speaking have allowed it to happen."

The Homes For Britain event, backed by 300 organisations from developers and estate agents to social landlords and charities, sought pledges that whoever formed the next government would deliver a long-term plan within a year to resolve the crisis before another generation passes.

The campaign claims England housebuilding figures hovered below the 125,000 mark for the sixth year in a row in 2014 - the lowest peacetime levels since the 1920 - and that for decades, only half the 245,000 homes needed have been built.

One observer told The Huffington Post UK that Loach "raised the roof".

Loach told the audience that the neglect of housing as an issue could be seen in the fact that Cathy Come Home was shown during primetime, while a short Panorama documentary last week on home and homelessness, 'What Britain Wants: Somewhere To Live' was shown at 10.40pm.

According to the National Housing Federation:


  • Between 2010 and 2013, the value of private property nationwide grew by 7% from £4.2 trillion to £4.5 trillion, but growth has not been felt evenly

  • £282 billion of the £289 billion (97%) of all property wealth growth took place in London and the South East
  • 80 pence of every new £1 of property wealth was generated in the capital
  • 30% of the entire nation’s private property wealth growth occurred in just two London boroughs: Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea
  • While London booms, the North East and North West’s property values have levelled off, dipping from £407 billion in 2010, to £393 billion in 2013 (a drop of -3%) in the North West, and from £130 to £127 billion in the North East ( a drop of -2%)
  • The disparity is such that London now holds more than a quarter of the nation’s property wealth (£1.2 trillion) – more than the North East, North West, Yorkshire & the Humber, and the East Midlands put together (£1.1 trillion).

Representatives from the five major political parties spoke to the crowds to lay out their manifesto offerings for how to ease the crisis.

They were Tory Grant Shapps, Liberal Democrat Ed Davey, Labour's Hilary Benn, Nigel Farage of Ukip and Caroline Lucas from The Green Party.

Photo galleryHomes For Britain Rally See Gallery