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A MULTIMILLION-POUND expansion of renters' unions that give power to ordinary people in rented accommodation would be funded by a Labour government.
Announcing the plans at Labour conference today, shadow housing secretary John Healey pledged to create a £20 million fund to support the expansion of renters’ unions.
The money is intended to help the organisations rapidly grow in number and give collective strength to the estimated 11.5m people in Britain who rent from private landlords.
Tenant unions are not well established in Britain, unlike in other European countries such as Germany. They aim to provide practical support and information, formal representation for tenants in disputes with landlords and also act as a lobbying body at a national level for renters.
Campaigners hope this will hugely help tenants, who have been hit with a rise of more than £1,800 a year in private rents since 2010.
Nick Ballard, an organiser with renters union Acorn, welcomed the news, saying that Labour is “on the right side of history.”
Mr Healey said: “Tenants who rent from private landlords have been hit hard by the housing crisis.
“Labour’s commitment is clear. We’ll give renters new rights to control rental costs, improve conditions and increase security.
“Renters’ unions help put power in the hands of tenants.
“And the next Labour government will fund set-up costs for these unions across the country to support renters to defend their rights and make the housing market fairer.”
A London Renters Union spokesman said: “Renter unions are vital to redressing the gross imbalance of power at the heart of our broken housing system.
“Millions of people are stuck paying extortionate rents they cannot afford, only to face eviction and homelessness at a moment’s notice.”
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