Scotland faces its biggest housing crisis in 60 years. The economic collapse has destroyed the myth that competition and the “free market” can deliver on housing.
Against this backdrop the Unite union Scottish housing branch, which represents over 1,200 housing association workers, has called a lobby outside the Scottish Parliament on Thursday of next week.
We are fighting for more funding for public housing in Scotland. We are also campaigning against the Scottish National Party (SNP) government’s “efficiency plans” for housing associations.
Behind the SNP’s talk of “efficiencies” lurks a major threat to jobs, working conditions and the quality of both the housing and the services that housing associations provide.
It contains an attack on local control and it is also likely to mean increased rents for tenants.
Ironically the SNP is trying to impose the English model of housing associations on Scotland. England has much bigger, and far fewer, more commercially driven organisations. This approach forces surviving associations to rely even more on borrowing just when the markets are in free fall and banks won’t lend.
Despite widespread opposition from all sides, the government intends to carry on regardless. Its latest housing publication, “Investing in Affordable Housing: A Consultation”, makes this clear. Consultation ends in March and implementation begins in June.
Housing association union members are asking tenants, other trade unions and campaigning groups to join next week’s lobby. The lobby is supported by the Scottish TUC.
It will be followed by a meeting inside the parliament where the case against these plans will be put to MSPs.
We need increased public investment in both council and housing association provision – especially with mounting unemployment, the collapse of the construction industry and the economy in recession.
If Gordon Brown can spend £500 million bailing out the banks, then he can afford good quality housing for all.
Lobby Scottish Parliament, 11.30am, Thursday 12 February