Unite the Union

Unite the Union

January 21, 2008 19:04 ET

Unite Demands a Role for Council Housing in New Housing and Regeneration Bill

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwire - Jan. 21, 2008) -

Issue date: Monday 21st January 2008

Publication date: Tuesday 22nd January 2008

The need for new council housing has been completely overlooked in the new Housing and Regeneration Bill Unite the union will say today (Tuesday 22nd January).

Giving evidence to an inquiry on the new Housing bill, Unite will say that while recognising that there is a massive shortage of affordable housing, the bill depends too heavily on the private sector to deliver a solution which is not realistic.

Unite is backing calls for a new programme of council house building which the bill does not mention. The UK's largest trade union wants local authorities to be able to use revenue from local authority housing stock and money from council house sales to be able to re-invest in maintenance and building for new council housing.

Giving evidence at a hearing in Parliament by the House of Commons Housing Group, Unite National Officer for the Public Sector, Gail Cartmail, will say: "New provision of council housing is absolutely critical if the government is to achieve its objective of building mixed and sustainable communities.

"This bill must provide a genuine opportunity for councils with need and who choose to, to improve existing council homes and estates, meet the government's own Decent Homes standard and build new housing. The funding structure for this is critical. At the moment the private sector is being defined as the predominant provider of housing and we absolutely reject the premise that it is any more capable or able to than the public sector.

"Local authorities must be permitted to raise the money required to deliver homes not for profit in the same way that the private companies do in order to earn profit."

Jack Dromey, Deputy General Secretary for Unite who will be addressing a housing rally in the Commons today will say: "We are facing a growing crisis caused by the lack of affordable housing supply. This bill provides us with an immense opportunity but unless we utilise every option, including a new council house building programme, the opportunity will be wasted.

"Thousands of people need good quality, affordable housing and local authorities want to build it. Let's make it happen."

Unite is criticising the terms of reference of the proposed new regulator, the Homes and Communities Agency, which includes responsibility to determine allocating accommodation, the terms of tenancies and levels of rent. Unite is concerned this will remove accountability away from local authorities. The union also wants more guidance for the operation of stock transfer ballots and an end to bias by some council's in favour of stock transfer votes.

Contact Information

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