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Local Government Service Group Conference 15-16 June 2008

Call for decent housing for all

UNISON's local government conference has pledged to continue to defend council housing, and to carry on fighting for decent housing for all.

Delegates welcomed the government's commitment to building new houses, but determined to make sure they were council-owned - because "housing belongs in local authorities."

Duncan Smith
Duncan Smith

With house prices in freefall and the credit crunch making it harder than ever for people to buy their own homes, rents spiralling ever upwards and growing waiting lists for council housing, "now is the time to build," conference said.

And not only houses, they stressed. The union must also build a comprehensive housing campaign. Among other things, it should lobby for:

  • the widest possible measures that enable councils to build new homes to meet local housing needs;
  • the right of ALMOs to return to local authorities;
  • a level playing field between different providers in the housing sector;
  • a well trained and well paid workforce, with fair pay and conditions throughout the sector.

Duncan Smith, City of Edinburgh Branch gave a Scottish slant to the debate when he told conference that "Firm Foundations," the Scottish Government's commitment to increase social housing, opens the door to start building council housing again in Scotland.

"We have progressive legislation on homelessness in Scotland, but without a massive house building programme it means little. The private sector will not do it for us," warned Duncan.

He reminded conference of his branch's campaign along with Defend Council Housing and with the help of the General Political Fund, to block attempts to privatise council housing stock.

"But we still need to campaign for a huge increase in the building of new council houses. "Decent housing is essential for a good quality of life. It's as important as having a good job, and crucial for good health too. We need to fight for it!"