Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Speech on Housing Policy to TUC Congress

This is the text from my speech yesterday on the composite motion on Housing.


"Congress, the housing crisis and the lack of affordable homes is blighting the lives of workers and their families across the nation.


More and more people, particularly the young, are at risk of rent arrears, evictions and homelessness, causing financial hardship and misery to all those affected. 


Yet the government has failed to tackle the crisis. 


The Housing and Planning Act, which applies to England, was a missed opportunity to get to grips with the housing issues facing the nation. I work in housing in central London. The extension of RTB will delete housing stock for all and under Pay to Stay many workers that UNISON represents will face their rents doubling or even tripling. Those most affected are not the well paid but caretakers, school cooks, nurses and street cleaners


What we need now first and foremost is political will. It used to be the case that all the major political parties accepted that it was the duty of the state to ensure its citizens were adequately housed. They used to compete with each other on how many Council homes they could build each year and make sure that not only was public housing rents capped and truly affordable but so were private rents. Without this political will we not get the funding needed nor the radical solutions to solve the crisis across all the different housing markets.


That is why we desperately need to build more homes of all types to meet the housing needs of the young, the vulnerable and those on low and middle incomes, many of whom are simply unable to afford a decent home to rent or buy – and not even the hope of ever doing so.


Significantly increasing the supply of housing would widen the options of people and lower the cost of housing for everyone, in particular private renters, who often face the very worse insecurity, soaring rents and the early morning knock by bailiffs.


Congress, why do we spend £25 billion per year on housing benefits When much of it is used to pay off the mortgages of private landlords - Why can’t that money be used instead to build homes. Why can’t we have transition from "benefits to bricks"?


But tackling the housing crisis also requires significant improvements in public housing policy to deliver a "housing deal" for current and future generations.


This should as said include investment in housing, particularly social and real affordable housing provided by local authorities and housing associations; we also need a rebirth of tenant and resident representation, effective rent controls, landlord licensing, secure tenancy agreements and long term solutions to reform welfare. 


And more importantly a better housing deal for current and future generations would ensure that housing - across all markets - is decent, is secure, is stable and is truly affordable for all.  


Congress, Please support". Motion was passed.

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