Congress asserts that the housing crisis is having a profound impact on living standards and exacerbating the recruitment and retention crisis in critical services including schools, the NHS and social care.
Congress further notes with concern that the shortage of affordable high-quality housing for key workers is impacting adversely on the provision of public services across the board, especially support for the most disadvantaged and vulnerable communities.
Key workers in both the public and private sector undertake an essential role in the functioning of the economy. Congress recognises the need to ensure all key workers, in particular low-paid key workers, can access their work without prohibitive housing or transport costs.
Congress condemns the failure of successive governments and administrations to address the shortage of affordable housing for working people and their families.
Congress agrees that all workers have the right to safe, decent and affordable housing, both while working away and in their wider lives.
Congress notes with concern:
(i) the cost-of-living crisis created by the Government is making decent housing unaffordable for many workers and families;
(ii) unregulated private rents and the lack of affordable social housing are driving the boom in homelessness;
(iii) the increased number of children living in temporary accommodation.
Congress notes the rise of short-term letting platforms and the failure to build sufficient affordable homes has transformed the housing market, including the traditional theatre ‘Digs’ system and driven significant cost increases to both short and long-term rented accommodation. This reduces feasible options for any worker seeking affordable, clean, safe accommodation, and has particularly impacted marginalised groups.
In a survey of nearly 1000 performers and stage management:
- 56% said their experiences of accommodation would make them less likely to apply for jobs involving working away from home.
- 71% regularly felt unsafe in their accommodation.
- 41% said issues with accommodation had a detrimental impact on their mental health.
Congress endorses Equity’s Dignity in digs campaign to:
- provide touring workers with accommodation that is safe, secure, clean, private and close to the venues they work within;
- place responsibility for securing appropriate accommodation on the engager;
- provide proper remuneration for Equity members to cover the additional costs of touring;
- ·introduce the strongest possible mandatory licensing schemes for short-term accommodation, with ongoing checks on quality and safety.
Congress calls on the General Council to campaign with unions, charities and other bodies for political parties to commit to:
(a) prioritise building more high-quality affordable social housing as a key priority;
(b) prioritise access to affordable housing for all key workers, including teachers;
(c) ensure an adequate supply of reserved housing provision in all local authority areas for key workers;
(d) create and extend discount schemes for rental and first-time buyers in high-cost areas.
(e) Ensure hundreds of thousands of genuinely affordable homes are built in each year of the next decade;
(f) Cap rent increases;
(g) Increase the number of landlord licensing schemes in operation across the UK.