Election day has come. Many have called this the most important election in a generation, a Brexit election, an election to shape Britain’s future.
Kate Henderson is Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation
12 December 2019
What it has not been is an election about domestic issues. With the exception of the NHS, domestic issues like education, defense, and even the economy haven’t captured the national attention as they have before. We have faced the same challenge for housing.
In this bitterly fought, Brexit-focused election, we’ve had to make the case that the housing crisis cannot wait. There are still more than a million children living in poverty in private rented homes, homelessness is still rising, and we need to build 90,000 new social rented homes a year to change this. Buildings around the country still need to be made safe and sustainable. Parts of the country are still facing underinvestment and inequality.
These problems are urgent, and they can be solved. Our #FixTheHousingCrisis campaign set out the five key actions that the next government must take to properly fix this crisis, once and for all. Those actions are:
- Build new social housing
- Make sure everyone can feel safe in their home
- Invest in places to bring the country together
- Deliver a new deal for social housing with residents at the heart
- Develop a fair and effective support and welfare system
If we do these five things, we can change the lives of millions – giving everyone the hope and opportunity that comes with a great, secure, affordable home.
You also win votes. Our polling shows that 61% of voters support the next government building more social homes and 63% support it investing in left behind communities.
For the past six weeks, our sector has spread this message around the country. Housing associations have shared it with political candidates, in their local communities and on social media. We held a National Housing Hustings with partner organisations from across the housing world, and people with experience of the crisis put their questions to spokespeople from the main English parties.
In response, and despite the dominance of Brexit, the parties have been talking about housing too. Labour committed a welcome £75bn to building 150,000 new social homes a year, and the Lib Dems and Greens both committed to 100,000 new social homes a year. The Conservatives have promised to build a million new homes in five years, an extension of the Affordable Homes Programme, and a social housing white paper.
There are other housing policies, some welcome, some less so, and you can read a summary of them in our manifesto briefings. But the point is that they have come. It has not been a housing election but – more than we probably expected – all the parties have clear commitments on social housing.
So what now? Now I think the real work begins. Tomorrow we wake up to a new government – either a government with an instant and clear majority, or a government that will take time to form, depending on the final vote.
Either way, we continue our mission to press the urgency of the housing crisis and the very clear path to fixing it. We reach out to elected MPs and offer the support, experience and ambition we can provide as housing associations anchored in their constituencies. The Federation will build relationships with the new government and call for the urgent first actions needed, like renewing housing investment programmes and action on building safety.
We’re ready, and we start from a position of strength – knowing the country’s housing challenges and knowing how to solve them. The next government, whoever they are, can work with housing associations to #FixTheHousingCrisis for good.