A number of Labour Councillors and members attended the launch of the Swindon Housing Action Campaign SHAC on Thursday 18th February in Broadgreen. More than 40 people attended the launch . SHAC has been formed as a result of the increasing housing crisis in Swindon. More and more people have been forced into a largely unregulated private rented sector with many instances of rent increases far beyond wage and price inflation with letting agents charging extortionate fees. The key note speaker was Betsy Dilner from Generation Rent who spoke about the inability of many young people and those under 40 to find safe secure and affordable housing with housing costs consuming an ever increasing proportion of take home pay. Other speakers included Steve Allsopp SBC Opposition Spokesperson on Housing , Andy Bentley representing the Green Party and Martin Wicks from the Swindon Tenants Campaign Group. In a lively question and answer session the need to take back control of housing supply from developers and restore a principle of building to meet need rather than profit came to the fore.
SHAC is a town wide campaign which seeks to embrace a wide coalition of interests across the Labour Movement and progressive organisations to argue for practical responses to the Housing Crisis. The Labour Group were initial founders and GMB , Unite and USDAW have also been involved from an early stage . SHAC seeks to challenge bad practice and give individuals suffering under poor treatment confidence to fight for their legal rights to decent housing and proper treatment by landlords and letting agents. It also fights for more social housing to be built nationally and locally. Immediate plans are to press for more resources to enforce current legislation covering private rented tenants, to argue for a licensing scheme to cover House of Multiple Occupation in Central Ward and to expose local letting agents who are not following new legislation on transparency of their fees.