Friday, June 08, 2012

Housing staff pay price of Cameron’s Britain

Inside Housing magazine published today research showing a huge year on increase in violence against housing staff.

Spat at and slapped. Bitten. Punched. Forced to the ground and beaten. Every day in the UK a front line housing worker is falling victim to this kind of violent assault”

"Shadow housing minister Jack Dromey said: ‘Government cuts to housing are not only hitting tenants hard but putting at risk the safety of those who serve the public. To add insult to literal injury, changes such as the bedroom tax might see tenants vent their anger on those in the front line.’

While "Jake Berry, parliamentary private secretary to the housing minister, said: ‘Any assaults on housing staff are absolutely unacceptable’, and that Mr Dromey’s comments linking changes to benefits to violence were ‘utterly baseless and completely disgraceful’.
I was quoted as "John Gray, housing association branch secretary at public sector union Unison, said: ‘This is what happens in the everyday life of housing officers up and down the country.’

He added that tenants who fall into rent arrears as a result of the government’s welfare reforms and are threatened with eviction ‘won’t blame the coalition, they’ll blame the infantry’
. So you can see which side of the debate I was on.

Since I think what Jack Dromey said is very true. Things will get even worse with the bedroom tax. Not only that but due to Coalition spending cuts in the Health and Safety Executive and local authority enforcement there will be less protection and support available for staff.

It wasn't reported that I had also said when interviewed by Inside Housing that part of the solution was  employers and trade union safety reps working together in partnership to protect staff.  However there were certain "rogue employers" who refuse to work with unions and frankly treat their staff with as much disdain as they do their residents . 

If assaults and injuries occur in organisations where risk assessments are not properly carried out or implemented, incidents not investigated or polices not enforced then the CEO and senior management teams of these organisations need to be targeted by the HSE/Local authorities and dealt with under the law as criminals in the same way as the actual perpetrators of the violence. 
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