Shadow CLG minister Chris Williamson MP wants a renaissance in council housing, and an end to council rent convergence pressure.
The Shadow minister told delegates and DCH supporters in Manchester last night that the 100,000 new homes proposed by shadow Chancellor Ed Balls the day before was 'the start of the journey', to address housing problems. 'Not enough will be council or affordable, but we should celebrate this start,' Chris Williamson said.
Gail Cartmail assistant gen sec UNITE, also welcomed Labour leaders' 'change of direction' on housing policy. Councillors reported on council house building plans and called for more government support, including exemptions from Right to Buy, to assist this.
Other speakers included Mick Weston, chair of Leeds Tenants Fed, Austin Mitchell MP, Neil Vernon UCATT and Eileen Short DCH.
TUC General Secretary-elect Frances O'Grady in a message to the meeting said 'We need investment in good quality affordable homes and decent jobs for construction workers. Now, more than ever, let's defend council housing.' See full message here.
Eileen Short, chair of Defend Council Housing, said DCH will demand that the 100,000 new homes proposed should be secure and genuinely-affordable Council homes for rent. She called on Councils to reject use of fixed term tenancies and up to 80% market rents, to undertake not to evict tenants in arrears due to Housing Benefit cuts, and to call on housing association landlords to do the same.
'Councillors can stand with tenants to oppose these attacks, and help build a massive protest movement for secure homes, really-affordable rents and accountable landlords. Otherwise Councils will be seen as siding with Government,' Eileen Short said.
DCH is organising to get tenants and housing workers, alongside councillors, MPs and housing campaigners, on the TUC demonstration 20 October in London A Future that Works.
Trades Unions are calling for a mass council housing investment programme (see page 22, motion 42 Housing here)
See new DCH newspaper here