Wednesday 28 September
6.30 doors for 7pm start
Please join us for a conversation between Kojo Koram and Vicky Spratt where they will be discussing their recent books -- Uncommon Wealth and Tenants -- and exploring the imperialist roots of our current housing crisis.
In Uncommon Wealth, Kojo Koram traces the tale of how after the end of the British empire an interconnected group of well-heeled British intellectuals, politicians, accountants and lawyers offshored their capital, seized assets and saddled debt in former ‘dependencies’. This enabled horrific inequality across the globe as ruthless capitalists profited and ordinary people across Britain’s former territories in colonial Africa, Asia and the Caribbean were trapped in poverty. However, the reinforcement of capitalist power across the world also ricocheted back home. Now it has left many Britons wondering where their own sovereignty and prosperity has gone…
Decolonisation was not just a trendy buzzword. It was one of the great global changes of the past hundred years, yet Britain – the protagonist in the whole, messy drama – has forgotten it was ever even there. A blistering uncovering of the scandal of Britain’s disastrous treatment of independent countries after empire, Uncommon Wealth shows the decisions of decades past are contributing to the forces that are breaking Britain today.
Tony is facing eviction instead of enjoying retirement; Limarra isn't 'homeless enough' to get help from the council; and for Kelly and her asthmatic son Morgan, another new rented house is a matter of life and death. This is twenty-first century Britain, where millions are trying to build lives in privately rented accommodation, which creates profit for landlords but not safe and stable homes for tenants.
This fierce and moving account tells their stories, and the story of how we built a housing system where homelessness is a constant threat. Award-winning housing journalist Vicky Spratt traces decades of bad decisions to show how and why the British dream of homeownership has withered and the safety net of social housing has unravelled. She has spent years talking with those on the frontline all around the country. Here, she illuminates the ways this national emergency cuts across generations, class and education and is devastating our health, destroying communities and transforming the social, economic and political landscape beyond recognition.
But it is not irreversible. The Covid-19 pandemic showed that radical action is possible, and there are real steps we can take to give everyone the chance of a good home. This urgent, ground breaking book leads the way.
KOJO KORAM is is a lecturer at the School of Law at Birkbeck College, University of London. He is the editor of The War on Drugs and the Global Color Line. Prior to academia, Kojo worked in social welfare law, youth work and teaching. Kojo has written for the Guardian, the Washington Post, the Nation, Dissent, the New Statesman and Critical Legal Thinking.
VICKY SPRATT is a journalist whose work regularly shapes public policy. Her 2016 campaign 'Make Renting Fair' led to letting fees in England and Wales being banned, and she has spoken at political conferences, all-party parliamentary groups and panels across the country on the issue of housing. She has appeared on BBC News, Newsnight, Woman's Hour, Radio 4 and NTS Radio. In 2020, she was nominated as Journalist of the Year at the Drum Awards for Online Media, and in 2021 her stories delving deep into Britain's housing emergency saw her shortlisted for a British Journalism award. She is currently the i Paper's Housing Correspondent and a writer and editor at Refinery29.