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2004 Local Government Service Group Conference
1 March 2004
Carried as Amended

Conference believes that the UK desperately needs investment in decent, affordable, secure and democratically accountable housing to provide first class homes for all that need them. Further deplores the failure of the UK’s respective governments to tackle the backlog of repairs to council homes.

We now know that council housing in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales has in excess of £20 billion of investment needs to its public housing stock. In accordance with Motion 56 conference reaffirms UNISON’s opposition to the wholesale or partial privatisation of the ownership or management of public housing, whether through PFI, stock transfers or Arms Length Management Organisations, and pledges support to branches which campaign against such proposals and for the ‘fourth way’ of direct government funding.

Conference notes with alarm that earlier this year the Housing Minister in England, Keith Hill ‘ripped up’ the Decent Homes commitment to English tenants who reject Stock Transfer, ALMO or PFI and condemned them to poor quality housing. Tenants in Wales and Scotland only have stock transfer as an investment vehicle.

Furthermore, at an ODPM Select Committee investigating the English Decent Homes standard, he was asked why the government had not introduced an investment allowance for councils to use for borrowing to meet the Decent Homes standard he simply said, ‘no one had asked for it’.

Conference calls on Governments across the UK to:

1)Introduce an Investment Allowance within Housing Revenue Accounts as a revenue stream against which borrowing can be undertaken using the prudential framework

2)Make the resources available nationally for the investment allowance so that all council homes can be brought up to a decent standard as fast as can be completed

3)Allow local authorities and housing bodies to access modern methods of funding, such as bond issues, for a wide ranging building programme of council homes for rent and not for sale.

Conference instructs the Service Group Executive to:

a)Step up the campaign for the investment allowance with councils, tenants organisations, Defend Council Housing and other groups

b)Step up the campaign for the application of the Best Value Code of Practice on Work Matters in England and Wales and the PPP Protocol in Scotland, up to an including any renewed statutory guidance, to be applied to housing stock transfers.

c)Call on all MPs in the UNISON parliamentary group to vote for the Early Day Motion ‘Investment and Choice for Council Tenants’

d)Continue campaigning against the three-card trick of privatisation through PFI, stock transfer and ALMO and for direct investment in council housing without strings.

e)Condemn the Government and housing minister, Keith Hill, for backing down from the manifesto pledge to improve all sub-standard housing by 2010, but to only give tenants the ‘opportunity’ to repair their homes.

f)Continue working with Defend Council Housing and tenants organisations, and to fully support UNISON branches fighting to retain the housing stock and service directly with the local council.