The country is crying out for more affordable homes and decent housing services, which is why the issue was so prominent at this year’s Labour Conference.
As Unite delegate and social housing worker Graham McNab explains, local authorities must take their housing services back in-house and be given the freedom to build affordable homes:
Nine years of Tory Government has done nothing to solve the housing crisis. Since taking power, council house waiting lists have ballooned to 1.1m households. Rough sleeping has doubled and there has been a 70 per cent increase of children living in temporary accommodation.
The number of new social rented homes has fallen by over 80 percent since this government came to power and only one council house was built for every four that have been sold under Right to Buy.
A decent, affordable, warm, well-insulated and secure home must be a basic human right. The best and only way to deliver this is through a major expansion of council housing, with secure tenancies and social rent.
I know this because I work in social housing building and maintaining social homes for North Lanarkshire council. In January 2001, we were outsourced through a Public Private Partnership (PPP). Not only has outsourcing created a two tier workforce, with cuts to pay terms and pensions, it has undermined our council’s ability to build and maintain the housing we desperately need.
So Labour’s new policy of supporting insourcing in local authorities is music to my ears. My council is one of a handful of Labour controlled councils left in Scotland and our decades-long contract is soon coming to an end. For us at Unite it is a no brainer…we need to bring it back in house. Let’s rebuild our local authorities. Let’s build the council houses we need.