The STUC is to call for a major house building programme, focussing especially affordable and council housing, not only to meet need but also to boost employment and the economy. It also called for work with Shelter, other charities, community groups, and the People’s Assembly, to build a broad based campaign to support a living rent.
UNISON Scotland’s Susan Kennedy, backing the USDAW, UCATT and North Lanarkshire and Aberdeen trade union councils’ motion, said Scotland has a ‘housing crisis’.
“We have a crisis with the availability, the cost and the quality of our housing. This impacts on the lives of those who find themselves inadequately housed, or at the mercy of a system which seems increasingly designed to make it difficult for people to sustain themselves in secure accommodation. It’s a desperate situation – crying out for investment”, she said.
The crisis in housing doesn’t just impact on those who are waiting for a better house. “It increasingly impacts on the workforce in social housing – We surveyed our members who work in social housing – time and again they said that their job had moved from delivering a service to constant fire fighting”, added Susan.
They described being ground down by the impossibility of resolving the problems they were faced with.
Susan pointed out that UNISON Scotland has, with others, been exploring the idea of using the pension funds of public services workers to fund the building of affordable housing.
Susan explained: “Pension funds need stable long term investments – Housing associations need stable long term funding,” and she urged delegates to read UNISON Scotland’s publication ‘Funding and building the homes Scotland needs’ at https://unison-scotland.org.uk/housing/FundingAndBuildingTheHomesScotlandNeeds_Mar2013.pdf
In the survey of housing staff Susan mentioned, a clear majority believed that their organisation did have a vision for the future.
“What was missing all too often was a belief that this vision could be delivered”, said Susan. “Congress this composite shows how that vision can be delivered. Let’s build the homes Scotland needs.”