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Wednesday 1 April 2015

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TUSC backs Unite housing workers' Manifesto

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) has been approached by the housing workers of Britain's biggest union, the Unite LE1111 branch, to endorse a Manifesto for housing produced by the branch for the forthcoming general election.

At its most recent meeting the TUSC national steering committee gave its full backing to the Manifesto (see www.housingworkers.org.uk/imgs/1424088160.pdf) which is closely based on national Unite policy. It clearly outlines the terrible and escalating housing crisis that exists in Britain today.

In the five years that this government has been in power house prices have risen by 50%, making home ownership increasingly unaffordable for the majority. In London the average age of a first time buyer is now 52! Younger people face a future of expensive private-rented, insecure and often substandard housing.

The Manifesto puts forward the measures necessary to solve the crisis and provide decent homes for all. In particular TUSC believes that two of the Manifesto's demands should be central to all campaigns to solve the housing crisis. They are for the immediate introduction of rent controls, to ensure fair rents, and for a mass building programme of high-quality, affordable council housing. We also welcome the Manifesto's call on councillors to resist austerity and to vote against cuts, which is central to TUSC's message, as is the demand to abolish the bedroom tax and other benefit cuts.

The reasonable and modest demands put forward in the Manifesto are not supported by any of the establishment parties. Labour has said in government it would be 'tougher than the Tories on benefits'!

If Labour wins the election it has promised that - in five years' time - 200,000 homes will be being built. This is too little too late, but most importantly Labour has refused to commit to building council or social housing. So we remain reliant on the profit-driven construction industry.

On private rents Labour has said it would introduce a policy which would limit new rent increases so they are not excessively above 'market rents'; but in many areas market rents are already completely unaffordable. Instead we demand the immediate reintroduction of rent controls which were abolished by Margaret Thatcher. We agree with the Manifesto's demand for this to be combined with a national register of private sector landlords with robust regulation to protect tenants, plus the introduction of secure tenures for all those living in rented accommodation.

We appeal to all those involved in campaigning for the right to decent housing to get active with TUSC as a means to make sure that this crucial issue is consistently raised in the course of this general election and beyond.