After a surprise election, what now for housing?

So, for all the confident predictions of political observers and the media, the surprise election ultimately delivered a very surprising result. In a campaign which was dominated by Brexit at the start, security at the end and leadership throughout, the public has not delivered the clear mandate which the Prime Minister set out to achieve and instead has delivered a hung Parliament.

Rob Warm is Head of Member Relations at the National Housing Federation

Rob Warm is Head of Member Relations at the National Housing Federation

9 June 2017

All of the results are not yet in and, as of yet, we do not know with certainty who will end up in Number 10. We certainly don’t know who will be Housing Minister, with the much respected Gavin Barwell losing his Croydon Central seat. 

However, whilst the result might be unclear, some things are emerging from the result that will impact on housing and housing associations. 

First, the nature of the result means that we may be entering a period of political instability – with a real possibility of another election later this year. Because investing in housing and infrastructure is a long term game, instability is never helpful for delivering the homes that the country so desperately needs. There are urgent issues that we need addressing around supported housing, supply and regeneration. These issues are too big, and too important, to be put on the political back-burner. We will be working hard to make sure that the new government understands this, to help put in place the stability the sector needs to plan and deliver.  

Second, another interesting feature of the election is that we have also seen, if early indications are correct, genuine engagement from younger people – those 18-24 year olds for whom we know housing, and generational unfairness, are key issues.  

Housing can, and should be, at the heart of what all political parties offer to those young voters. This is the generation for whom both home ownership and secure, affordable rented housing are such big issues – particularly in our capital, our thriving cities and our university towns. 

We need to make sure new MPs, and new ministers, absolutely understand how housing associations can help them deliver housing for all groups, on all incomes and at all points in their lives. Truly an offer for everyone – including those first time voters. 

This work has already started. Housing was not a central part of the campaign, but in a quiet, unfussy way, our members have been doing what they do best – getting on with the job of providing great places to live. But during the campaign they have been doing something else too, something which, as a sector, we have not always done so well. They have been telling the people who will make decisions that impact on our businesses why what we do matters and how it truly transforms lives. 

Over the last month housing associations up and down the country have been inviting prospective parliamentary candidates (PPCs) to see schemes, to hear about the incredible work you all do and to secure their support to help us deliver our future plans.

Over the course of this campaign, we know of almost 90 housing association visits from PPCs. Many of these people will be waking up this morning with a new job, or returning to their old job. Others will be licking their wounds and identifying the next battle to fight. But all of them will be ending the campaign knowing more about the work that housing associations do than they did at the start of it. We hope that they will be waking up with a contact card for, and a friend in, a local housing association. Those visits were always meant to be the start of a relationship, not a one off, and in the coming weeks we will be working with members to make sure we build on the great work that has already started and really cement those links with new and returning MPs.

The political future is unclear, but we still have a housing crisis, we still need homes, we still need to regenerate our communities and we still need secure funding for supported housing. We will be working hard on your behalf to make sure that the new government really understands this, and understands how housing associations can help them deliver.

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