The last year has highlighted why now, more than ever, everyone needs a decent and affordable place to call home.
That’s why in June 2020, we launched the Homes at the Heart campaign. We wanted to amplify the message that social housing should be at the heart of the country’s recovery from coronavirus, and to show the vital role that social housing providers are playing in the nation’s response to the pandemic.
From August, we worked with the Homes at the Heart partners, the Chartered Institute of Housing, Crisis, National Federation of ALMOs, the Association of Retained Council Housing, and a group of 60 supporter organisations, leading six weeks of campaign action. We facilitated supporters to share stories, highlight research and spread the message that a once-in-a-generation investment in social housing could help get our country back on track and help people to live their best lives. We made a splash across traditional and online media with 13,000 tweets and retweets reaching over 7m with the campaign message by the end of the year.
Following this, over 500 people and organisations took part in a campaign moment in November and shared the message that investment in social housing boosts local economies, and improves people's lives at a time when our nation needs it the most. Ads appeared in the Spectator and across a range of local newspapers in areas with newly elected conservative MPs.
Shaun Bailey MP, Felicity Buchan MP and Sally Ann Hart MP all wrote pieces for Conservative Home calling for investment in social and affordable housing. There is a new generation of Conservative politicians now championing social housing. In his article, Shaun Bailey MP wrote ‘I am determined to ensure for survivors and battlers like my mum and the millions of others like her, that Tories are no longer afraid to talk about social housing’.
The campaign call was backed by politicians from across the political spectrum from Jeremy Corbyn to Jacob Rees-Mogg. In fact, recent polling showed that over a quarter of MPs were familiar with the campaign.
Most importantly, during the campaign, the government announced details of the Affordable Homes Programme, including that 50% of the available funds would be used for discounted rent, which is the highest level in a decade, and a specific commitment to delivering more homes for social rent.
The campaign was a huge success thanks to everyone who helped make the case. We were very grateful to the Nationwide Foundation who funded some of the campaign activity.
Reflecting on the impact of Homes at the Heart shows that there is now a new coalition willing to champion social housing. We will now be working with our coalition partners to explore opportunities to further political support for social housing in the medium to long term.