Regulate all the landlords
A social housing commission carried out by the Shelter housing charity has reported its findings after a year of deliberations.
The main recommendation the report makes is for a new regulator of landlords with similar powers to the Financial Conduct Authority.
“Social housing is not like choosing a doctor—you can’t just up sticks and move if your housing association gets a low rating,” said Grenfell survivor Edward Daffarn, one of the commissioners.
“Much more is needed to put power in residents’ hands. We need a new regulation system that will fight for residents, with real repercussions for housing associations or councils that fail in their duty.”
Stephen Lawrence’s mother Doreen Lawrence was also a commissioner.
Other commissioners included former Labour leader Ed Miliband and Tory Baroness Warsi.
Lawrence said she doubted politicians have “ever had to live in poor housing or know what it is like to feel invisible”.
“The case for investing in social housing is overwhelming,” she said.
The report also calls for three million new social homes by 2040.
The Defend Council Housing campaign group said, “We endorse the demand for tighter regulation of landlords, but we argue this must apply to all landlords, including councils, TMOs, co-ops, housing associations and private landlords.”
It also pointed out that “the term ‘social housing’ blurs important distinctions between council housing and other forms of rented housing.
“Council housing still has life time secure tenancies, more rights and the lowest rents of any tenure.”
Ministries face coordinated strikes
Workers at the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) are set to strike from 21 to 23 January.
They are demanding the London Living Wage of £10.55 an hour as well as the same sick pay and annual leave allowance as other people employed by the departments.
Cleaners, security guards and receptionists at the MoJ are represented by the United Voices of the World union.
Support workers at BEIS are represented by the PCS union.
The workers at the MoJ, employed by outsourcer OCS, returned a 100 percent yes vote to strike with a 100 percent turnout.
The support staff at BEIS voted overwhelmingly for strikes against outsourcers Engie and Aramark.
Taxi drivers say bosses must pay
Private hire taxi drivers are gearing up for a protest on 14 January at 10am at TfL headquarters against “Transport for London discrimination”.
Their demands include scrapping the planned congestion charge of £11.50 a day for private hire taxi drivers—which should be paid by operators.
Birmingham bins action has impact
An overtime ban by Birmingham bin workers is causing serious disruption.
The BirminghamLive website said, “Streets are piled high with black bags and overflowing wheelie bins.”
Members of the Unite union make up more than 300 of the city’s bins workforce. They are angry about management’s treatment of workers following Birmingham’s high-profile bin strike in summer 2017.
Unite says “secret payments” have been made to GMB members, who didn’t take part in the action.
Suffolk printers set for another strike
Workers at printing firm CPI William Clowes in Beccles, Suffolk, are preparing to strike over pay.
The 75 Unite union members plan a 24-hour strike on 17 January against the company’s two-year pay freeze which began in April 2018.
This strike would follow two 24-hour strikes in November and December, with more action planned if bosses don’t cough up.
Workers at the Copland Way site say they have received just two pay rises in the last 14 years.
This included an increase of just 1 percent in 2017.