Sunday, June 23, 2013

Housing workers face more violence due to welfare cuts

Well done to Inside Housing magazine (again) for their recent survey of housing workers. 83% believe that they face more risk of violence at work due to welfare cuts and 41% feel less safe than they did 12 Months ago.

I had been interviewed by their reporter and was quoted "Housing officers are going to be expected to evict model tenants who have never caused any problems, who due to austerity and welfare reforms [are unable to pay their rent]. It is expected that tenants and their relatives are going to get angry.’

In a second article looking at a rise in verbal and physical assaults during the past 12 months there was a number of horrendous quotes from different housing staff who are shouted and sworn at on a weekly basis; kicked; punched; shot at with a air rifle; had a bowling ball thrown at them from a high rise; threats to kill; threats to burn down their homes and kidnap their children.

What is also worrying is that 75% of staff believe that their employer is not doing enough to protect them and 25% think it is pointless reporting such incidents to their boss since it would be a "waste of time". They also believe cuts in staffing levels have made the risk worse.

Until we can get rid of this Tory led coalition government unions and employers must work together to try and keep housing staff safe. We need more union safety reps who must be given sufficient time off to be trained, attend joint safety committees, properly inspect workplaces and constantly review updated risk assessments.

Employers need to put their hands in their pockets and fully resource their health and safety advisers, buy decent and up to date protective equipment for staff and most importantly - stop threatening to evict those tenants who cannot pay bedroom tax. There are other ways to collect debt and in many places there is no suitable smaller alternative accommodation to offer them.
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