Defend Council Housing

defendcouncilhousingRespect calls for an emergency programme of Council House building in Milton Keynes and the UK

Defend Council Housing conference by Glyn Robbins

On 25th November Defend Council Housing (DCH) is holding a one-day conference in central London. On the agenda is nothing less than the survival of council housing. Yet again, the government is attacking the fundamental rights of council tenants, for who Secure Tenancies have provided legal protection for a hundred years. At the very moment that a real Labour government should be investing in council housing, New Labour is trying to destroy it.

The economic crisis has proved, to anyone with eyes to see, that housing can’t be left to the whims of market speculation. New Labour’s housing policy is in tatters and all the arguments that DCH has been making for the last decade are being born out. Private developers and housing associations have utterly failed to build the homes we need. While house prices were rising, they were far more interested in making money than building genuinely affordable homes, leaving up to 4 million people stranded on council waiting lists. Now the Local Government Association say this could rise to 5 million as the result of repossessions. Despite this, there are thousands of homes standing empty in our cities, a monument to the folly of building for greed, not need. Meanwhile, as DCH always predicted, housing associations are struggling to stay afloat and are resorting to mergers, rent rises and – ironically – asking for more government subsidy!

For a fraction of the cost of the corporate bailouts, the government could invest in a new generation of council housing that would not only reduce waiting lists, but inject some sanity into the housing market. Local councils and other public bodies own thousands of acres of land that could be used to build top quality, environmentally sustainable homes, while giving work to thousands of unemployed builders who have been victims of the recession. Public money should also be used to invert in existing council housing. The cost of poor housing conditions are enormous, leading to poor health, impaired education and a range of other problems in working class communities.

When Margaret Becket became housing minister, there were raised eyebrows, but now it’s clear why she’s there. She’ll be the hatchet woman who tries to scrap Secure Tenancies. Council tenants won’t allow this and the whole of the labour movement needs to stand up for council housing, one of the pillars of our welfare state. Come to the DCH conference on 25th and join the fightback.

More details and reports HERE

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