Branch Secretary : info@housingworkers.org.uk
  

Fighting to defend homelessness services

 

Cost of homelessness services will increase by 27.2% in the next three year

 

Councils in England have warned that the cost of homelessness services will increase by 27.2% in the next three years. The Conservative led Local Government Association (LGA) say there are "extra cost pressures of almost £8bn". 

 

The LGA statement is aimed at extracting more money from the government in the forthcoming spending review. They calculate that without an increase from central government, council tax would need to rise by a quarter simply to cover increased costs. They warn that vital services, such as care for older and disabled people, child protection, homelessness prevention, waste and recycling, and road maintenance are threatened.

 

Avalanche of post Covid austerity

 

But speeches at the Tory conference this week confirm that the government has an avalanche of post Covid austerity in the pipeline. We need to prepare to defend homelessness services.

 

 

We urgently need a fight to fund decent services and to pay local government staff and workers in local government funded services. Unite housing workers will seek to collaborate with willing councillors in this fight. As Unite General Secretary Sharon Graham has written,

 

We know that central government is not giving councils the money they need. But it is not enough for councillors to shrug their shoulders and pass the buck. Local authorities can agree balanced, legal budgets that do not make cuts. It is perfectly possible for them to use their reserves and borrowing powers to plug gaps while at the same time campaigning for adequate central government funding to safeguard council services. I would like to see my union at the heart of integrated campaigns inside communities, fighting for better services and giving council workers the proper pay rise they deserve (LocalGov 24 June 2021)

 

Homelessness services are hugely overstretched now before the full impact of ending the eviction ban, ending furlough, and cutting Universal Credit is felt. Local Government workers and staff in local government funded services have faced a downward pressure on pay and conditions. Workers across the homelessness sector are coming together to fight for change (contact us if you want to get involved.)

 

We want to work with councillors, particularly those who say they are committed to fight austerity. But we are also committed to building a fightback in the workplace with the possibility of industrial action. Join Unite to protect homelessness services.

 

Imagine what a local council setting a budget based on need might put on the agenda.

 

  • Build secure green council homes. By using councils' borrowing powers for capital spending to build council homes, while campaigning for the government to divert its subsidies for private developers to finance a mass programme of public housing
  • Use councils' powers to register private landlords and set up council-run lettings agencies, as a means to tackle repair standards, high rents, over-crowding etc. for private rented homes.
  • Restore full council tax benefits, to be funded from council reserves not council tax rises, and campaign for the government to reimburse councils that do so
  • Rough sleepers should be given immediate, decent, and comfortable accommodation and support to transform their lives
  • Councils could act immediately on cladding and fire safety - by doing the work and billing the government. They could compulsorily purchase the buildings of private and housing association landlords which do not also act immediately
  • A minimum wage rate of £15 / hour as agreed by delegates at Labour and TUSC conference. In polling 65% support this policy although Kier Starmer has made it clear that the Labour front bench will not fight for it.
  • Ensure all services pay at least the London Living Wage and recognise trade unions.

 

 

Paul Kershaw, Chair Unite housing workers LE1111 branch.

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