Housing. There it was, in Boris Johnson’s first statement to Parliament as Prime Minister: a commitment to announce investment in housing as part of vital infrastructure.
Kate Henderson is Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation
26 July 2019
In a week of whirlwind political change, this recognition of housing as a priority is welcome. We know how important good housing is, and people around the country who face crippling housing costs know it too. But how easy it would be for complex issues like the housing crisis to get lost in this political turbulence. It’s our job to make sure that doesn’t happen – and to keep making the case for the solutions we need to fix the crisis.
While the Government has changed, the problems – and the solutions – haven’t.
We need more homes. The nation needs truly affordable social homes that help families, give people opportunities and are, at their heart, beautiful, secure, great quality places to live. We also need more shared ownership homes that give first time buyers the chance to get on the housing ladder.
Housing associations are building these homes now. We’ve delivered a 13% increase in housing starts, including 5,447 for social rent, and we’re launching an ambitious new campaign to promote shared ownership. Now is the time for long-term Government ambition and investment – £12.8bn a year – to enable housing associations and councils to do so much more to deliver the social homes the nation needs and deserves. We will build on our long-standing relationship with the new Chancellor, Sajid Javid, a supporter of social housing who has made prominent calls for greater investment in homebuilding.
We need to invest in building safety. Everyone has the right to feel safe in their homes and we welcomed the Hackitt Review’s call for fundamental reform of building safety regulations.
We will press Government to inject urgency, capacity and, where necessary, funding to deliver lasting change to ensure people are safe in their homes.
We need to bring together communities around the country. Housing associations work in every community in England, investing in local services, neighbourhoods and people. With new funding and partnerships with local stakeholders, they can do even more, creating happy, successful, optimistic places where everyone feels like they matter. We believe the Government can achieve this with a new Great Places fund, investing £1bn a year for 10 years in what the Prime Minister described as Britain’s left-behind towns.
And we need to give people the support they need to thrive. Supported housing helps millions of people lead independent lives, and its future must be secured. Homelessness is rising, and we must continue to work with partners and call for government leadership to tackle this. We’ll also continue to work with Amber Rudd, who stays on at DWP, to fix the problems with Universal Credit, and press for a fair, effective welfare system that works for everyone.
What really matters to the housing association sector right now is the people we serve and the homes we build and manage. We must work together, and with the new Government and other partners, to get the results the country needs. So that everyone can have a great quality home they can afford.