Friday 19 January 2007
Give the lead presentation in a debate on the future of Housing at an event held on public services by the left of centre think tank Compass in conjunction with UNISON.
I push four key themes in my contribution where I focus on Social Housing rather than wider policy. My main emphasis is on the need to start building affordable Social Housing again, pointing to the needs of the 1.3m people on council housing waiting lists. I also stress the need for new policy beyond the Decent Homes Standard in 2010, calling for people to start thinking beyond a silo approach to Housing, seeing it in a wider social policy context, this would be helped by replacing the DHS with a broader Decent Neighbourhoods Standard.
I also point to the fact that beyond 2010 its time the Government got itself out of its self imposed policy straight jacket for Housing and recognises that the general public and some local authorities have chosen to retain stock under council control. The Government should really wake up and smell the coffee here as every authority has now made the decision on what model it will follow and they would appease an awful lot of their own parties members by giving equity of funding to all options, having voted for this at their party conference in each of the last three years. My final point is that any policy has to be flexible enough to deal with regional differences, as need in the North East is very different to that in the South East.
The session goes on for over an hour and when we go back into the main plenary I am delighted to see that APSEs four proposals are incorporated into six key points that Compass will take forward as their proposals to Government in this area.
If only I could be as effective in the area of transport. Having reached Euston at 5pm pretty pleased with myself my mood changes quickly as I discover that all trains North have been cancelled because of storm damage. Just as the panic starts to set in someone tells me that one train is leaving for Wolverhampton, so I jump on this get off at Birmingham, get a bus to Warrington, get a train back to Manchester and get home at 1am. Who said this is the age of the train?