Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Death and Rebirth of Public Housing

This motion on Housing was passed at our recent Branch AGM(s) and will be submitted to this year's UNISON National Conference. 

"This Conference notes:-  
  1. That the ConDem government is proposing cuts to Housing Benefits that will result in financial hardship and even evictions for hundreds of thousands of private and public sector tenants.  This is not only the unemployed but families in work on low wages and pensioners.  
  1. Cheaper rental areas will face an influx of people and families from more expensive areas.  Local education, social and medical services will not be able to cope with such dramatic population changes.  
  1. This ConDem Government has stopped a hundred year old tradition by all previous political parties of subsidising the cost of building new homes for low income families.  It is also proposing to end security of tenure for new tenants and charging them “near market” rents.  This has been estimated as meaning that an average 3 bedroom home for rent will cost an extra £130 per week on top of the existing social rent.  The government has also slashed existing new build and refurbishment programmes.  
  1. This Government has removed the safety net of ensuring that vulnerable and homeless families have the Right to re-housed in secure public sector housing and instead are to be housed in unregulated private sector properties.   
  1. We believe that this is an ideological attack by the Condem government upon the low paid and those most at need.  There is a battle of ideas in housing that at this moment progressives are not winning. We need to oppose and campaign against all regressive housing policies. 
This Conference calls for:- 
  1. The only short term solution to Britain’s housing crisis is the reintroduction of rent controls which will bring down private and public rents to affordable levels.  For this to work all tenants must be offered security of tenure.  We should allow a reasonable return by private landlords but not at the current levels.  
  1. That the only long term solution to adequately house the 4.5 million on Council waiting lists is to build more homes.  This could be paid for by savings from Housing benefit and the replacement of Council tax with a continental style Land Tax as well as direct public and private investment.  These homes must have secure tenancies and affordable rents. The ConDem government’s expectation for new homes to be funded through higher rents at 80% of market rents will mean fewer truly affordable new homes.  The ConDem government blames housing applicants for the length of waiting lists, rather than government’s woefully inadequate funding and Right to Buy policies.  In 2008, Shelter calculated that 1.76 million homes had been lost through Right to Buy.  
  1. We request that National Labour Link considers affiliating to the Labour Housing Group in order to help win the battle of ideas in housing during the next General Election campaign.    
  1. It must be an overriding priority of the next Government that there must be a renaissance and rebirth of good quality, affordable, accountable and secure public housing.
5.  The NEC to coordinate a campaign against government housing reforms.   This to include : production of information for shops and members ; encouraging shops to    distribute information and hold meetings to discuss their response to the reforms ; encouraging shops to lobby Councils and Housing Association Boards to join us in opposing government reforms.
      6. The NEC to seek further joint working with other trade unions in the housing association & voluntary sector, tenants groups, councillors and MPs".
Picture Eric Tamm
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