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Unite unveils social housing building plan

Trade union Unite has today revealed an action plan to kick-start the social housing building programme.

Unite argues in its blueprint, Meeting Housing Need: Building Britain out of Recession, that such a massive council house building programme would meet social need and be an engine for economic revival generally, by creating thousands of jobs in the construction industry and its suppliers.

Unite’s five-point programme was unveiled at a London conference being addressed by the new housing and planning minister John Healey.

Unite is calling for:

A massive programme of new build, high quality, environmentally sustainable social housing, including council homes which would create jobs, meet housing need, and redress the inequality of social housing in rural areas.

A comprehensive construction apprenticeship scheme for the 16 to 24-year-olds whose job prospects have diminished during the recession.

Investment in a ‘retro-fit’ programme for existing homes to improve energy efficiency. It is estimated that such action could generate a further 25,000 jobs and would greatly contribute to the Government’s environmental targets.

The Government to use its large stake in the banking sector to do more to prevent repossessions and strengthen the regulatory framework.

Greater support for housing associations to ensure they receive sufficient funding to provide housing and support for tenants; and that staff numbers and employment conditions are maintained and enhanced.

Unite deputy general secretary Jack Dromey said: “Unite welcomes the progress the government has made, including in the recent budget. There is still much more to do however.

“As the recession bites and home repossessions mount, the demand for social housing is expected to rise from the already 4.5 million people on local authority social housing waiting lists – 1 in 12 people in the country.

“A large-scale social housing programme, including council built and rented property, is urgently needed to meet social need. The government must devote more resources to a new deal for housing, building Britain out of recession.”