HOUSING IN MANCHESTER – HAS IT A FUTURE?
is determined to sell off all its housing over the next year or two. They try
and make out they have no choice and when outlining the possible options they
only ever mention three – PFI (Private Finance Initiative) which they have used
in Ardwick, ALMO (Arms Length Management Organisation) which they plan for all
of North Manchester, and housing associations.
They never even
mention that there could be a fourth option, i.e. staying with the council.
Under the Tory government Manchester tenants twice fought off the wholesale sale
or transfer of their houses -remember the council's 'Homes for Life' campaign?
Now the New Labour Government has decided they will pursue this Tory policy and
Manchester New Labour council just decide to follow their political masters as
if there was no alternative. There is no reason why the government cannot give
the cash for improvements to councils, rather than just Housing Associations or
other privatised organisations. Although Housing Associations are technically
not for profit they often act like private companies and generally pay their top
staff hugely inflated salaries.
Tenants in many
areas, including Camden and Birmingham have voted to stay with the council. They
are demanding the government fund improvements to their homes whilst retaining
democratic control over the ownership. My union, the T&G, and others are also
demanding that this fourth option is considered in all votes. Why is Manchester
Council not telling tenants about this? The situation facing areas where the
houses have been sold off or transferred is not the glowing picture New Labour
would have us believe. For example a Sunderland councillor indicated tenants
have suffered a 17% rent rise after transfer and only 26 of the 4000 new homes
promised have been built.
sell offs affect the whole community not just existing tenants
- many homeless young people and families will be denied the chance to safe,
secure homes. Housing Associations generally do not offer emergency
accommodation, or priority for those in great need e.g. fleeing domestic
violence. Even when an organization takes over council housing and promises all
sort of extra help this is only for a few years (so they get the ownership) and
then they do what they like.