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Council Homes Housing workers ‘worse off than those they help’

IT’S A “DISGRACE” that some housing association workers live in worse conditions than the people they help to find homes for, delegates at the Unison community conference in Southport heard yesterday.

It is time for the staff to be recognised as key workers so that they can gain access to “affordable housing,” Unison community service group executive John Gray said.

Delegates debated an emergency motion noting that below-inflation pay rises and private-sector rent increases result in many housing association employees and volunteers having to live in shared, damp, expensive and overcrowded properties.

Lola Oyewusi, of the union’s housing associations branch, said: “Access to good-quality social housing is essential not just to provide shelter but to good family and social health.”

Delegates debated the motion, which resulted in an agreement for a campaign on the back of a Unison Greater London report on how the lack of truly affordable housing is driving key public service workers out of the capital.

Tony Power of the service group executive told delegates that the lack of affordable homes was a nationwide problem.

“Truly affordable homes are what housing associations were created for,” he added.

On Saturday, delegates called for the creation of systems to protect workers from violent and vulnerable service users.

The motion listed incidents such as a support worker bitten by a person with learning disabilities and a support organisation manager being verbally abused by an relative of a service user.

A Unison member told of locking herself in an office to escape a 12-year-old with a knife and being assaulted with a Zimmer frame by an elderly person.

Delegates heard that a recent review found that 93 per cent of care and support staff had received verbal abuse and 53 per cent had reported a physical assault.

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