issues with ACORN UK

ACORN is a community union with a focus on using direct action to defend tenants from from landlords who are refusing repairs, hiking rents, eviction, etc. If you don't know what ACORN UK is, this article by Callum Cant is a good explanation

ACORN sounds great on paper but in practice it is very broken and no one in the organisation wants to acknowledge this to mass membership.

It has been described to me by members in the know that the union is bureaucratic, dominated by full-time professional staff rather than elected volunteers, is increasingly controlled top-down, critical discussion is stifled, low-risk template campaigns are pushed onto branches, and junior staff are overworked and treated poorly. However, none of these issues are ever acknowledged when we are making decisions as a union.

The issues are only discussed when we end the meeting and go to the pub where it is discussed secretively in the smoking area amongst cliques. The discussions are kept vague and in hushed tones. Because of it being transmitted like this, I have an unclear picture of what is actually going on, the extent of the issues, no way to verify the truthfulness of some of the claims. I've created this website to write down everything I've been told, and then have the claims substantiated or corrected.

Branches getting destroyed

Newcastle, Manchester, others?

I am aware that Newcastle and Manchester have also split or gone through some kind of catastrophic conflict with ACORN National although I am not aware of the details of this so if someone could fill me that would be great.

list of issues


The 2023 National Conference last year was suspended. I have been told that the organisation's Bylaws were edited for the 2022 National Conference to disallow changes to the organisations structure, and edited again to no-longer make the conference annual.

Accusations of ACORN's anti-democratic nature in the Oxford and Lancaster letters.

very limited communication between branches is allowed

An example of how broken communication is within ACORN is one of the demands put out by Oxford: "For the branch to be permitted to organise with members in other branches nationally, including the ability to make group chats and communication channels with other branches without staff oversight". Acorn members across branches don't talk to each other, and even within the branch there is poor communication.

This is why National have been able to destroy branches as it is unlikely that the mass membership are ever made aware of it.

Feels like all major decisions get made behind the back of the membership

Major decisions that effect the ACORN Sheffield branch seem to be made behind the back of the membership. There are several examples but one really obvious one is how the Burngreave and Darnall local groups were created. Who made this decision and how is completely opaque to membership. National staff are based in Sheffield so it likely their decision, but what a way to tell to let the membership know that our input is completely worthless to them that they don't even bother asking us beforehand.