Cathy Laws presented to House of Lords

Posted on: 27 February 2017

Written by: Charlie Marshall

Tonight marked a historic moment for Cardboard Citizens as we took to a new type of stage to perform at the House of Lords as part of a Homes for Cathy event. As well as performing excerpts from our hit Forum Theatre piece Cathy, we were also there for an arguably even more important reason: to present to the House of Lords the top five most popular Cathy Laws as suggested by Cathy audiences across the UK.

The cast and company of Cathy   Cathy performing at the House of Lords

646 Cathy Laws were collected from suggestions in theatres, hostels, day centres and prisons during the Forum sections when we asked for new legislation ideas that could stop people, like our show's Cathy, becoming homeless.

The five most frequently suggested ideas, which were tonight shared with the House of Lords, were as follows:

1. The introduction of employment laws to address income disparities, by: regulating or removing zero hours contract; reducing benefit sanctions;  improving the rights of those on benefits to earn up to a certain amount without being penalised; and raising income tax thresholds for low earners.

2. Greater regulation of the property development industry (especially absentee landowners) to hold their investors accountable – in the event of property being unoccupied for extended periods of time, work on new sites not starting within a specified period, or percentages of social housing being too low. This would be enforced by laws allowing the imposition of tax penalties in the event of any of the above.

3. The introduction of a stronger tenants’ rights policy, including the scrapping of Section 21 notices, stronger tenancy agreements, banning letting agents’ fees and holding landlords accountable for substandard accommodation.

4. The introduction of rent caps and rent control.

5. Local authorities prohibited from housing families out of their borough or further than 20 miles from their current home

Take a look below at some of the other ideas that were shared by audiences during the run.

While Cathy may now have come to the end of its UK tour, our conversation and debate about housing continues. In April we will present a season of nine short plays at The Bunker in London in Home Truths: An Incomplete History of Housing Told in Nine Plays. You can find out more and book tickets now here. You can also share your own ideas for Cathy Laws on Twitter using #CathyLaws


With thanks to

Arts Council England Lottery funded