Monday, September 09, 2013

#TUC13 Congress - Monday (Housing Debate)

This is my speech from this morning's
Housing debate – Composite 6. The first time I have spoken at Congress.

"President, Congress, John Gray from UNISON seconding Composite 6

Congress - We welcome this opportunity to broaden out the debate to include the private rented sector, where so many working people and their families now find themselves living.

It is now the case that more people live in the private rented sector than in the whole public housing sector combined, be that traditional council housing, or homes provided by housing associations or ALMOs

This is something that we suspected in our union for quite some time - from surveying our members - and it’s something that we now know to be true, amongst the wider public.

The English Housing Survey for 2011-12, published earlier this year shows this rising number of private tenants, 3.84 million, which now outnumbers the 3.8 million in social housing, for the first time since the 1960s.

Congress, this is not a good news story.

The private rented sector is where you are most likely to find housing that fails to meet the decent homes standard,

The private rented sector is where you will find the most insecure tenancies

And it is the private rented sector where you pay most.

Surveys suggest tenants in the private rented sector, typically pay more for their housing, than all social tenants and owner occupiers – with rents, typically, 41 per cent of their income – this is 21 per cent higher since 2010 while wages have stagnated.

The recent Home Truths report from the Resolution Foundation, found rents to be unaffordable for families on low to middle incomes, in one third of the country.

And on top of that are the rip off charges and fees levied by the cowboy letting agents

The £500 administration fees to secure your flat

The £210 to change a name on a tenancy

The £96 just to renew your terms

This is bad news for all of us - but it’s particularly grim for the young, with half of all private renters now under 35

What kind of future is that, for our young people? The worst of all worlds. Paying the most – and having less left over, every month, to save for a deposit

As the Housing Voice campaign makes clear, we need housing to be a political priority – rather something left to a market, that does not deliver for ordinary people on ordinary incomes.

Being a political priority, is the only way we get the comprehensive housing policy for the future, which will secure the new council and housing association homes that we need.

Regulating the private rented sector has to be a big component of that comprehensive policy.

We want more security for tenants

Rent increases brought under control

Landlords registered and standards driven up

And not for profit letting agents established

Congress, please support this composite"

(Update: if you have trouble sleeping you can watch the speech here - 31 minutes into Congress)
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