The Union of Construction, Allied Trades, and Technicians (UCATT) has condemned the British government’s plan to force social housing tenants to live in cheaper areas, warning that the potential move will create ghettos of poverty and unemployment.
The UK’s only trade union specializing in construction said that the proposals put forward by the influential think tank Policy Exchange would “lead to ghettoisation” as they result in expensive council homes being sold off and the money invested in building new houses in cheaper outskirts of towns.
The union which has 125,000 members across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, also called for additional large scale investment in social house building, insisting that the policy of selling off existing homes is “morally wrong”.
“These proposals are truly frightening and will not work…. We should be increasing mixed developments, in order to break down social segregation, not reducing them,” said UCATT general secretary Steve Murphy.
Calling for a radical reform of social housing in England, the Policy Exchange, which has links to senior Tories, called on housing associations to sell their properties in expensive areas of cities in order to make room for construction of cheap houses.
However, a source close to Simon Hughes, the Liberal Democrats deputy leader, said he “would clearly be opposed to replicating that policy nationally”.
“While selling off expensive stock to pay for more new homes may be sensible in some parts of the country, in other areas it could risk driving out key workers and undermining councils’ efforts to ensure that the demographic make-up of towns and cities is conducive to a vibrant local economy,” said Cllr Mike Jones, Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Environment and Housing Board.