Housing is one of the biggest issues facing working people today – particularly for low-paid public service workers who do so much for our communities. Decent affordable housing along with decent pay are the very least they deserve.
Yet over the last decade the housing crisis has worsened, thanks to the government’s ideological obsession with cuts and austerity, which have significantly reduced public spending on housing and welfare benefits.
That’s why UNISON South East moved a motion at the union’s 2019 National Delegate Conference calling for a new campaign on housing and for a housing manifesto to be produced which we could galvanise political and community support around.
We all know that the social housing sector has been starved of the funding and resources it needs to invest in new and existing homes – and social housing has become increasingly inaccessible.
UNISON’s housing members see the consequence of the government’s failure. They work in a challenging environment where housing, care and support services are chronically under-funded. They are on the front line of the housing crisis, helping vulnerable members of the community with immense housing difficulties. Meanwhile, too many people are struggling to keep a roof over their heads, care for their families and make ends meet.
Thousands of people are trapped in homes clad in dangerous flammable material post-Grenfell – a direct result of government inaction.
Others face financial hardship and are living with the threat of eviction and homelessness because they can’t afford skyrocketing rents or to pay for improvements to make their homes safe. More families with children are living in poverty, with many having to rely on food banks.
We can’t allow this housing emergency to go on, and the government’s focus on home ownership only serves to benefit the few to the detriment of the many.
That’s why UNISON has launched a Housing Manifesto, which sets out our vision for housing.
We’re calling on the government to commit to eight key policy measures that will ensure everyone has access to a safe, decent and affordable home where they can plan their lives and thrive.
In one of the richest countries in the world, that surely isn’t too much to ask.
Our eight key housing demands:
- Invest in more new quality council and social rented homes for the people
- Redefine “Affordable Housing” to make homes truly affordable
- Protect the existing social rented housing stock for current and future generations
- Overhaul the Welfare System and provide families with adequate support
- Overhaul Regeneration Schemes to meet local housing needs
- Overhaul Standards and Consumer Redress, and give a voice to social tenants
- Overhaul the Private Rented Sector to make renting stable and affordable
- Invest in the Housing Workforce