The government’s policy of privatising council housing received another blow last week when tenants in Renfrewshire in Scotland voted against transfer of their homes.
They are the second group of tenants to reject transfer in Scotland this month.
This week also saw the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) announcing the latest round of stock transfers - but hidden in all the fanfare was the fact that decisions in 14 areas have been delayed.
National chair of Defend Council Housing (DCH) Alan Walter said, “It’s significant that the areas where the DCLG have delayed its decisions are the areas where the most money is needed.
“The no votes in Stirling and Renfrewshire this month knock a hole in the Scottish parliament’s plans for stock transfer.
“In order to get tenants to vote for transfer the government has had to put enormous amounts of public money into private housing companies - this is simply not acceptable.”
The DCLG is also insisting that existing arms length management organisations (Almos) slow down their improvement programme - the promised 2010 decent homes standard that has been used to convince many tenants of the need for transfer in the first place.
It wants to spread funding across authorities applying for the latest round of Almos.
This year’s Labour Party conference voted for the third year running to support Defend Council Housing’s position of a level playing field for council housing.
In Lambeth last Saturday over 100 tenants attended a meeting to discuss council housing in the borough.
Steve Hack, a council tenant and activist, told Socialist Worker, “There were lots of new people who hadn’t heard the arguments around direct investment in council housing - the fourth option.
“The main debate was between Alan Walter from DCH and Labour MP John McDonnell speaking in favour of the fourth option, and the Lambeth cabinet member for housing John Kazantzis and Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brakes speaking in favour of the proposed Almo.
“The meeting voted unanimously to call for a London wide tenants’ meeting to co-ordinate a united campaign for the fourth option.
“Tenants in the borough need to keep fighting.
“The meeting was supported by the Unison union which financed leaflets and ran an advert in the South London Press.
“From here we will set up estate meetings to let tenants know what is going on - we have already distributed 18,000 leaflets. The main thing we need to do now is to raise the profile of the campaign both locally and nationally.”
For more information go to www.defendcouncilhousing.org.uk