UNISON is urging members to back the campaign against the government’s Housing and Planning Bill which would make it more difficult for people on average incomes to find a decent, secure and affordable home in England
Instead, says the union, we need more investment in housing and solutions to tackle the housing crisis.
The bill has passed its second reading in the House of Lords and is about to enter its committee and report stage – which union branches and members can submit evidence to.
To help, the union has published a briefing on the bill, which can be downloaded from the UNISON websites and includes suggestions for how people can take part in the campaign.
The bill “represents a sustained attack on the provision of affordable housing, particularly council housing, which is in decline,” says UNISON’s Sylvia Jones.
“The government has missed an opportunity to address the housing crisis, which is a crisis of affordability and supply across all housing markets.
“Instead the Bill focuses on addressing the decline in home ownership at the expense of providing genuinely affordable homes that the majority of people need.”
The bill includes measures to
- extend the right-to-buy policy to housing associations and forcing councils to sell high-value vacant homes to fund it,
- help with starter homes for first-time buyers which will be unaffordable to many on average incomes,
- charge ‘higher earning’ social tenants market rents which could cause financial hardship for tenants, under a policy called ‘pay to stay’,
- end lifetime tenancies for all new council tenants when the alternative of private tenancies are typically for six months with no security of tenure beyond that.
“The measures could worsen the housing crisis and expose some people to financial hardship, poverty, rent arrears, evictions and homelessness,” warned Ms Jones.
Altogether, UNISON warns that the bill could result in fewer social rented homes and will have a negative impact on social housing.