Ruth Kelly, the secretary of state at the department for communities and local government, last week announced new investment options for council housing as an alternative to privatisation.
But she stopped short of conceding the “fourth option” of allowing direct public investment in council housing – the central demand of the Defend Council Housing (DCH) campaign.
Ministers would like to walk away from their general election manifesto commitment that “all social tenants [will] benefit from a decent, warm home with modern facilities” by 2010. They hope that talk of investment in “wider commmunities” and building new council housing will cover their tracks.
But the broad alliance of tenants, councillors, trade unions and MPs backing DCH are demanding the full fourth option. We want existing homes and estates improved as well as investment in a programme to build new council homes.
The reality behind Kelly’s statement is that the campaign against housing privatisation is getting stronger. Ministers face defeat at Labour’s conference for a third year running in September unless they provide the fourth option.
DCH has launched a new open letter to Tony Blair. The aim is to encircle the government and win a climbdown to get major improvements for homes and estates and a secure, long term future for council housing for generations to come.
Get tenants, trade unionists and councillors in your area to sign up. Take the open letter door to door on estates, around work, community centres and clubs. Ask your MP to sign EDM 48 on the future of council housing.
For more information go to www.defendcouncilhousing.org.uk