Housing services hit by public sector strike
Housing offices across the UK are set to close or offer reduced services today as staff join around two million public sector workers who are striking over pensions.
Councils have confirmed a range of housing services will be affected, although many have also set up arrangements to allow the most critical support to remain in place.
Leeds Council said local housing offices run by its arm’s-length management organisation West North West Homes would remain open, but Aire Valley Homes and East North East Homes offices would be shut.
Its homelessness service, Leeds Housing Options, will offer a reduced service.
In a statement the council said: ‘Leeds City Council has been working with the trade unions to make sure that the impact of this strike on the most vulnerable residents and service users in the city is kept to a minimum.’
Other large cities gave a similar message. Manchester Council said there will be a ‘significant impact on many services’ but ‘essential services to vulnerable people will be maintained’.
In London authorities have given a mixed picture on the impact of the strikes. Haringey warned that its ALMO, Homes for Haringey, would only be dealing with emergency housing management enquiries. It said emergency repairs would also be carried out, and other repairs should be reported in the normal way – although calls may take longer to process.
However Wandsworth said it expected frontline services other than schools to be ‘largely unaffected’.
Tower Hamlets said it has worked with unions to ensure home care services are delivered despite the strike.
In Scotland Aberdeen City Council said its housing access points will be open, and emergency repairs and homelessness services will also be available.
In Wales Swansea Council said its district housing offices will be closed, but its homelessness team will provide emergency cover. It said its repairs call centre would be closed, but an emergency out of hours line will be set up.
Public sector workers and unions have been angered by plans to increase their pension contributions and change the way allocations are calculated.
* Following the stikes Leeds Council has said East North East Homes had three offices closed and two open and Aire valley had one closed and two open.
Yesterday chancellor George Osborne increased tensions by announcing public sector pay rises would be limited to 1 per cent for the next two years, following a pay freeze.