Crisis in housing
The current housing crisis is the result of successive UK Governments failing, for over 30 years, to deliver an appropriate housing policy. There are now more than 5 million people on social housing waiting lists and 1.6 million children living in overcrowded, temporary or badly maintained accommodation. UCATT’s argument is clear - access to good housing is pivotal in a decent society. An individual’s life chances including their health, education and employment prospects are seriously diminished, if denied a proper home.
Successive Governments have attempted to privatise housing, removing the role of local councils in housing provision. Since the election of the Conservative-led Government, the number of affordable housing starts has fallen by 68%. The number of families accepted as statutory homeless has increased by 14% in 12 months and the number of families in bed and breakfast accommodation has risen by 44%.
UCATT is an active supporter of the campaign group Defend Council Housing, supporting the ‘fourth option’ of direct investment in council housing.
UCATT will continue to campaign for:
- A massive increase in social house building to alleviate the growing housing crisis, reinvigorate the construction industry and kick-start the economy.
- Increased investment in green building technologies, sustainable materials and carbon neutral housing.
- An end to the Right to Buy which further diminishes existing social housing stock.
- A reversal of the policy of linking rents to market levels, replaced by social rents set at a rate that allows families to work and avoid dependency on benefits.
- All new social house building to be linked to strict procurement rules requiring companies to train apprentices and directly employ workers under terms which guarantee industry employment standards.
The ConDem coalition has scrapped all the new build housing plans put in place by Labour. They have reneged on the £7.5bn investment which would have meant 112,000 new homes being built.
Instead they have predictably come after those most in need. Housing benefit caps are forcing low paid workers out of their homes into lower quality housing in cheaper areas, further away from their places of work and their children’s schools. It does nothing to tackle the extortionate prices that private landlords charge in many parts of the country.
Once again the Tories are advocating a return to previous failed housing policy. They have extended the Right to Buy. UCATT has demolished their claim in a response to a Government consultation that they would use the money to replace like for like homes. New homes built will charge up to 80% of market rents whereas current council rents average around 30% of market prices.
While the Government continues to use the disturbing “undeserving poor” rhetoric, the reality is that only 1 in 8 claimants of housing benefit and local housing allowance are unemployed. Now they are proposing cutting housing benefit for those aged under 25. This has been met with outrage from housing campaign groups including Shelter.
Guide: Blacklisting and public procurement
Our new guide seeks to assist UCATT members in lobbying to stop public contracts going to firms that have blacklisted workers and have not made up for it. Download the Blacklisting & Public Procurement Guide now.
© 2016 UCATT. The trade union for workers in the construction industry. All rights reserved.