Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Why "Right to Buy" will be another nail in the coffin of the Housing Association movement

The 1966 BBC television play "Cathy Come Home" about homelessness and its back drop is credited with kick starting many modern day Housing associations.

Sadly, some (not by all means all) have forgotten their social mission and instead become money making machines for their chief executives and senior management team and don't give a damn about the homeless, their existing tenants or their staff.

Another nail in the coffin of the Housing Association movement is the Tory plans to extend the "right to buy" at a massive discount to their tenants. Everyone who believes in the basic human right for secure, safe, affordable and decent housing for all - need to get together and campaign to defeat this proposal.

The emergency motion below has been submitted by my UNISON branch to our National Conference next week. I hope (as always) the standing orders committee will be gentle with us and the motion is debated.

Government plan to extend “Right to Buy to Housing Associations

This conference notes:-
  • The announcement in the Queens speech on May 27 2015 that the Government intends to extend the Right to Buy to Housing Associations. It is believed that the Government will push ahead with this legislation as a priority. 
  • The Housing crisis in this country with regards to the chronic shortage of decent affordable homes in all tenures.   
  • That there is an intention to “bribe” tenants to buy their homes with massive discounts. This will costs billions of pounds.
  • If there is billions of pounds available to bribe tenants then this money is better spent on building new homes at social rents 
  • To pay for these discounts local authorities would be expected to sell off up to 5% of their stock. 
  • It is unclear how local authorities who have transferred all their stock to housing associations will be able to sell “5%” of homes they no longer own? 
  • Housing Associations are charities and the Charity commission has strict rules on the buying and selling of land and assets. 
  • In some local authority areas up to 70 % of properties bought under the Council Right to Buy have ended up in the hand of private landlords.
  • In recent years only 1 in every 19 homes sold under Council Right to Buy have been replaced. 
  • If this plan was to go ahead it would make the housing crisis worse by reducing the existing stock of supply of social housing for vulnerable and low paid families. 
  • Housing associations already forced to borrow against their existing stock to fund building new homes will find with their assets sold at a discount the cost of borrowing will increase and they can in fact build less. 
  • Many Housing association sector believe that this proposal will threaten their ability to raise new loans to build homes and even continued existence. This will impact not only on residents (many of whom are UNISON members) and workers. 
  • That Conservative plans in the 1980s to force RTB on Housing Associations were defeated following a successful campaign in the sector supported by trade unions. Eventually a bill was defeated in the House of Lords. 
This Conference calls upon the NEC to :- 
  • Oppose this plan to extend right to buy to Housing Associations.
  • Support and help organise a campaign against the extension and work with other trade unions, tenant and resident groups, employers and recognised NGOs to oppose these plans. 
  • Call on Labour Link to work within the Labour Party to oppose this measure". 
Greater London UNISON Housing Association Branch

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