Amicus the Union

Amicus the Union

February 19, 2007 19:01 ET

Amicus say government's housing policy is in crisis

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(CCNMatthews - Feb. 19, 2007) -

Issue date: Monday 19th February 2007
Publication date: Tuesday 20th February 2007

Trade union Amicus says that the government's policy on housing is in disarray and is fuelling the affordable housing crisis.

Amicus is blaming the failure of the government to honour the Labour Party Conference vote and council tenants demands to allow local authorities to be able to improve existing and build new council homes.

The union says that council house tenants are being denied real choice by preventing local authorities from using all the income from tenants rents and 'right to buy' receipts to invest in the maintenance of council properties. It wants local authorities to be able to raise money in the same way that Housing Associations and private companies are able, to create a level playing field in council house provision. Amicus also argues that if government is prepared to write off council debts when they privatise homes they should do the same if tenants vote to remain with the council.

Amicus says that the lack of affordable housing provision is being fuelled by the policy and wants local authorities to be allowed to build new homes. It has also said that far right extremist groups are seizing on the issue to campaign and recruitment.

An alliance of trade unions, tenants organisations, councillors and MPs is campaigning for a 'fourth option' that will allow council housing to be funded directly by council's and retained within local authority ownership. They argue that this would allow council tenants to keep their secure tenancies and retain the democratic structures that exist between them and elected and accountable local authorities.

The campaign group also says that the claims of Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) and Arms Length Management Companies (ALMOs) are often not met and that it is wrong that council tenants are being bullied to accept one of the government's three privatisation options. Amicus is also warning of evidence that far right organisations are using the lack of affordable housing to campaign and recruit in many parts of the country.

On the day of publication of a new report on the need for increased social housing investment, 'Dear Gordon...', Amicus' Head of the Public Centre and Assistant General Secretary, said: "The government seems to want choice in every public sector but council housing because they are continuing to deny council tenants the choice of remaining within local authority ownership.

"Local authority housing is unique among tenures because it is publicly owned and democratically accountable, allowing council tenants to hold their landlords to account.

"All we are asking is for a level playing field for council housing and an end to government robbing council housing."

Several government inspired reports on the future of public housing are about to report including, the Cave Review of Social Housing Regulation, Professor Sir John Mills' report on the future of Social Housing and a Labour Party policy review promised at conference last October is also anticipated.

To download your copy of the Defend Council House pamphlet, 'Dear Gordon...' visit: www.defendcouncilhousing.org.uk

Council house campaigners have criticised Communities Secretary, Ruth Kelly's speech on Monday which proposed that council tenants should be able to buy bigger shares of their homes. Critics say that shared equity schemes are proving beyond the reach of people on modest or even average incomes and contribute to the affordable housing shortage. They say a 10% share will not change tenants life chances; as they claim and tenants would not be able to afford the maintenance and repair of the property.

-Ends-

Notes to editors

Amicus represents more than 150,000 public sector workers. It has launched a Valuing Public Services campaign which highlights the following public service values:

Value public service users and staff
Accountability
Long-term commitment
Universal access
End to market madness
Sustainability

Contact Information

  • Amicus press office
    Catherine Bithell
    020 7 420 8909 or 07958 473 224