Monday, December 05, 2016

"Housing Associations have lost their soul" Call for new campaign group to make them more democratic and accountable.

At the Labour Housing Group fringe at this year’s Labour Party Conference former UNISON Regional Secretary Frank Hont (and now Liverpool Council Cabinet member for Housing) described Housing Associations as having “lost their soul”. This was in front of Labour Housing shadow minister John Healey MP. 

This motion calling for a campaign for greater democracy and accountability in Housing Associations was recently put before the UNISON Community National Service Group Executive.

This community SGE notes:

That UK Housing Associations used to be genuinely progressive and democratic social housing organisations accountable to their tenants while providing high quality, affordable homes and responsible services.

Many used to have effective and well run Tenant & Resident Associations (TRA) and have executive boards that reflected the local community as well as being open, transparent, inclusive and most important of all - accountable.

Trade Unions, TRAs and local authorities were seen as vital stakeholders and partners.

Recently Housing Associations have started to dismantle TRAs and replace them with “focus groups” and so called “residents representatives” - interviewed and appointed by senior management.

Elected Councillors have been removed from Executive Boards.

Some Housing Associations refuse to recognise the human rights of their workers by de-recognising trade unions while victimising and blacklisting union activists.

Housing Associations which treat their residents badly also tend to treat their workers badly as well.
This community SGE resolves:-

To campaign and lobby against all Housing Associations that do not have democratically elected and financially supported independent Tenants and Residents Associations or recognise trade unions.

To ask the NEC to see if it is feasible to help set up a body that would work with other trade unions, councillors, Assembly members, MSPs, MPs and resident groups to campaign to make Housing Associations become democratic and accountable.

To support the call that at least 50% of all Housing Association Board Members should be genuine Resident elected representatives (which may include local Councillors and community organisations and at least one trade union representative).

Campaign for residents of Housing Associations that consistently fail to be progressive and democratic and do not perform adequate housing management functions to be given the right to be allowed the opportunity to vote on a transfer of their homes to another Landlord including Local Authorities.

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