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2015 National Delegate Conference
1 January 2015

Conference recognises the massive housing crisis which exists in London and nationally.

Conference condemns the UK Government’s financial policies that have focused upon “Buy to Let” as the main source of housing and rented housing in the UK.

The result has been growing inequality, poverty, the break up of families and communities across the UK as working people struggle with ever rising housing costs, poor quality housing and insecure tenancies.

In London alone the following facts outline the depth of the crisis:

1)It is estimated there are 809,000 too few homes;

2)The numbers sleeping rough in London have gone up 75% since 2012. The number of young people sleeping rough has doubled. Homelessness services have been cut by 25%;

3)In 2013 more than 800,000 Londoners were on social housing waiting lists. Now councils are slashing their waiting lists by as much as 75% by simply telling people they are no longer eligible;

4)11% of the capital’s population live in overcrowded conditions;

5)Hardly any council housing is built and great swathes of stock have been sold off;

6)Much-needed renovation increasingly means handing council homes over to private developers or housing associations, which means no guarantees of getting their homes back for current tenants, and yet further reduction of council housing stock for future generations;

7)The vicious bedroom tax and other housing benefit changes have left thousands in deeper poverty;

8)Councils are moving hundreds of people out of London;

9)Secure tenancies are under attack. The most common reason for being made homeless is the end of a non- secure (assured) tenancy. London’s rate of landlord repossessions is more than double any other region;

10)Private rents have gone up 14.5% in two years. In the private sector the average rent is over £2,100/ month in Hackney. The London average for a two bed home is £320 a week;

11)Some ‘affordable’ homes were approved by London Mayor Boris Johnson that could cost £2,400 a month;

12)Meanwhile private developers are handed billions of pounds of public money in subsidies, and public land, and buildings are sold to private companies sometimes, for next to nothing.

Of course the Con Dems champion privatisation and cuts. But shamefully Labour councils do the same. Labour councils have privatised housing and land. They have implemented the bedroom tax and cut jobs, pay, and services.

Conference believes that homes are for people not profits.

The lack of affordable rented housing and the “cleansing” of low paid working people from “desirable” housing areas in cities, town and villages marginalises people, breaks up families and ruins communities.

Homes that are affordable, secure, fit for purpose and responsive to the needs of local communities are essential to a fair society and the private sector has not been able to deliver these homes.

Conference notes that the 1930’s council house programme not only housed people in town and county, it provided jobs that helped the UK economy to recover from the Great Depression, revitalised local communities, peoples sense of identity and offered hope to millions for a better, healthier life.

Now in the 21st Century a “Living Rent” based system of rent controls, security of tenure and rented housing quality standards is needed in partnership with a public sector led house building programme to deliver homes for people, reduce welfare costs and allow rental income to be reinvested in our countries infrastructure instead of being dumped in offshore tax havens.

Conference therefore resolves to engage with the Trades Union Councils, Shelter, other charities, community groups, faith groups and the People’s Assemblies to build a broad based campaign to support the introduction of a “Living Rent” system and new council house building programme.

Conference calls on the next government and Labour councils to:

a)Immediately stop implementing the bedroom tax;

b)Stop all housing privatisation;

c)Renovate homes themselves instead of handing them over to the private sector;

d)Commit to 80,000 new local authority and housing association homes every year, as argued for in the UNISON Housing Voice Report; this should count towards the target of delivering 200,000 new homes per year to tackle the housing crisis, as pledged by Labour;”

e)Register private landlords to enforce rent controls, decent standards and deal with overcrowding;

f)Use their powers of compulsory purchase to take over empty houses (there are one million empty homes in the UK);

g)Fight for the government to plan a mass housing investment programme including a new council house building programme to provide secure jobs and solve the housing crisis.