We are pleased to be involved in Teesvalley Combined Authority with the elected regional mayor and all the possibilities that come with devolution. Whilst not without its imperfections, it provides great opportunities for the area.
Angela Lockwood is CEO of North East based housing association North Star
21 September 2018
So what is devolution? What does it mean for one of the nether regions of England? Well the official definition is: 'The transfer or delegation of power to a lower level, especially by central government to local or regional administration.'
This provides Teesvalley for the first time in its history an ability to directly influence and determine funding priorities based on local knowledge and understanding. We celebrate the position we find ourselves in which has been hard fought, pragmatically agreed and will be collaboratively delivered.
We know drivers for regeneration remain largely based on economic gains, which is understandable given the potential of the area. There is however greater consideration than ever for its impact on the local communities and the lives of those who live and work there. We know from research that when people are looking to own or rent a home, their priorities beyond pure affordability are an area’s reputation, security and good design. If you create somewhere where people want to live and work then that will attract and sustain prosperity in the area. We know that communities have a major role in creating great places to live and who understands communities better than local organisations.
Teesvalley has its share of challenges with a relatively large concentration of housing stock that no longer meet the needs of a modern family. This housing was hastily and poorly built to meet the industrial needs of the time in the early 20th century. These areas have a strong sense of community but battle with relatively high levels of deprivation with child poverty as high as 51% in a Middlesbrough ward. National strategies have failed these areas as they were conceived by central government with limited knowledge and understanding of local issues and short term funded; well intended but misguided. We now have the opportunity to develop a long term strategy that makes sense to the area, that can flex and shift with changing needs, can make a difference and instil confidence in communities that feel left behind.
We have this great opportunity and we must all work together on finding solutions that ensure Teesvalley has vibrant and thriving communities that support ambitious economic growth. We have the tools, now we need to deliver!
At the National Housing Federation, we promise to help housing associations influence devolution to create the best possible environment for social housing and your customers. The devolution hub is at the heart of how we will deliver on this.