Blog: How to start solving the housing crisis

Our communities need public services and they need the people providing those services living close by

general secretary Christina McAnea with UNISON members outside a London hospital

We all know how difficult the last 18 months has been for all of us, at work and at home.

COVID has naturally pushed lots of issues away from the headlines and the political agenda, including housing. That doesn’t mean any of these problems have gone away, if anything they have grown worse over the past year and a half as the world’s attention focused on dealing with the pandemic.

But at UNISON, we know that these problems remain as important as ever for our members and all working people.

We surveyed members in September last year and the results showed that more than a quarter of you were looking elsewhere to live and work because of the cost of housing where you lived.

More than 1 in 10 were saying that you would like to move, but could not afford to. And 100% of those who were privately renting, said their landlord neglected repairs and upkeep.

That’s why UNISON has commissioned the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE) to find out which councils – and the UNISON members working for them –  are setting an example in trying to solve the nation’s housing crisis.

The report – A decent place to live: homes fit for key workers – is published now and has examples of great work by councils controlled by various different political parties, in cities and in rural areas, large and small.

A crucial part of tackling our housing crisis is ensuring that councils are given both more resources and more freedom to use them.

We, across our union, will continue doing all we can to persuade decision-makers in local and central governments to learn these lessons, following the best practice shown in the report, to meet the housing needs that exist in every corner of the UK.

Building back better after the pandemic, levelling up, and building the green economy, in part means the building of more houses that working people can afford.

Our communities need public services and they need the people providing those services living close enough to do their jobs.

The UK’s housing crisis is widely acknowledged. We need real vision now, of how to build the homes our public service heroes deserve. APSE’s great report points the way forward.