My Week: Debbie Crew

The Merseyside Citizens Advice Bureau officer gets closer to a victory for private tenants.

Debbie Crew
Debbie Crew

Monday: Great news. Karen Buck MP has tabled an early day motion calling for an end to retaliatory evictions in the UK. As many as a million private tenants are living in sub-standard housing conditions, but put up with them because landlords can use a loophole in the law to evict those who ask for repairs. I have visited homes that were freezing and damp but found that the tenants were too scared to complain. This inspired us to launch a campaign for legislative change.

Sometimes EDMs are a gamble. If a large number of MPs sign up, it sends a strong message to the Government that this is a serious issue, but a small number can send the opposite message. But I am confident common sense will prevail.

I read that the application process for the 2008 Sheila McKechnie campaigning awards has just begun. It seems not that long ago that I won one of the 2007 awards, which helped to raise the profile of our work.

Tuesday: Disaster strikes as I trip on the stairs, damaging my foot. It might have been a subconscious act of self-sabotage to help me avoid getting back into my exercise regime. I work from home, so I can still get on with most of my workload, but I do have an important meeting in Liverpool tomorrow.

Wednesday: My lovely husband agrees to drive me to the meeting, once I find some sort of footwear. Given the torrential rain, can I really attend a regional management meeting in wellies? The meeting is to discuss the possibility of the first-ever Citizens Advice North Region social policy conference. Finance is always an issue with such a vital task.

Thursday: I am invited to speak at a housing conference organised by the Housing Quality Network, called 'improving private rented sector housing'. It is a timely opportunity to discuss retaliatory eviction, as the review of the private rented sector begins. Knowing how busy housing minister Yvette Cooper must be, I'm grateful to receive a personal call from her to say the issue of retaliatory eviction is being taken seriously and will be mentioned in her press release on the review.

Friday: I am leading on the Post Office closure campaign. Information from all our bureaux will be used to influence the Post Office's decisions. Today I have been putting together feedback about where services are most needed.

- Debbie Crew is social and campaigns officer at Citizens Advice Bureau Merseyside

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