Friday, July 15, 2016

UNISON NDC 16: The Housing Crisis

Better late than never but this is a speech I made at the UNISON NDC conference on the Housing crisis.

"Conference, President, John Gray, speaking on behalf of the NEC in support of Composite B.

Conference, I have worked in local authority and Housing association management for over 20 years and while we often thought in the past that we are in crisis, it is clear that currently across the UK there is an unprecedented housing nightmare which is worsening by the day.

Adults of all ages – and families of all sizes - across the country are struggling to find a decent and affordable home to live in.

Millions of workers are struggling to pay high rents and save large deposits for mortgages, while the unemployed or those on low pay are now struggling to pay their rent or mortgage due to cuts in government support.

More of our members are forced to commute long distances and young adults cannot leave home because of expensive housing.

The high costs of renting is forcing many to make the choice between paying their rents and meeting energy bills, feeding their family or running the risk of bailiffs calling.

The housing crisis is building up by the day and destroying lives - & has resulted in
  • Increases in rent arrears and evictions

  • Increases in homelessness 

  • Increases in the use of food banks 

  • Increases in the social cleansing of families out of high property price areas

  • Increases in number of tenants falling further into debt as they rob Peter to pay Paul.

Yet the housing crisis is to get even worse...particularly in England....

The new Housing and Planning Act 2016 will be a disaster to the workers we represent.

The new law will do nothing to solve the housing crisis. It is a charter for private developers to build discounted Starter Homes for sale for those on higher incomes, many of whom do not need a helping hand to own their own homes, while those on average or low incomes get nothing but higher rents in the unregulated, insecure & often unsafe private sector.

In London the housing charity Shelter worked out that you would need an annual income of £77,000 per year and a deposit of £98,000 to afford a “starter home”. How many of your members have anything like that amount of money?

A key solution to the housing crisis is to build more social and affordable homes at prices ordinary citizens can afford. UNISON is in favour of this. Politicians across the political spectrum including some ministers are in favour.

Yet, this current right wing Government is ideologically committed to only try and reverse the decline in homeownership that they caused at the expense of affordable and social housing.

The Composite Motion sets out a comprehensive programme to involve our members in campaigning & working with external organisations in lobbying politicians around housing issues affecting our members to influence national public housing policy. This would help to put pressure on politicians to commit to the delivery of more housing of all types, particularly social and affordable housing.

Conference, please support this motion".
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