The West Midlands Regional Committee brings together leaders from housing associations across the region to help shape and deliver the Federation’s work both nationally and in the West Midlands region. Update from Boris Worrall, Group Chair.
The Government has called on housing associations to deliver more homes than ever. And in the West Midlands we have absolutely responded. In the past year, housing associations here completed more than 4,600 homes and started the same number. Nationally delivery of new homes is now well in excess of 40,000 and has risen by about 10% in the past year. We can expect this upward trajectory to continue through the new strategic partnerships with Homes England – not least in the Midlands where no less than seven of the 23 deals nationally have been signed. We are absolutely at the forefront of the national drive to deliver as many homes as we can which people can afford.
But our work is not just about buildings; it’s really about people and communities. So at our meeting this week we spent a lot of time talking about two big issues for the region – regeneration and homelessness. There are no quick-fixes for either but it was good to hear about the imminent publication of the Great Places commission report which will set out a blueprint for how we can do more to create places where people and communities thrive – and challenge the Government and housing associations to do more and think differently about how we bring back some communities which have maybe been left behind.
The committee also agreed to explore work to think differently about our regional commitment to tackle homelessness. Through Creating our Future, we are going to explore raising funds for an innovation programme to get underneath the problem and start to explore how we as housing associations can collaborate to do more to address the issue. We will also want to talk to the West Midlands Combined Authority about this as it’s a strategic priority for the region. An email will be coming out to all members in the Midlands in the next month to ask for your support for making this the initiative the region takes forward as it’s part of Creating our Future. We think it really matters and this will help us make a step change. It will also be a brilliant opportunity for a small team of dynamic housing professionals from across the region to work together as part of the Greenhouse – many of you will have seen the incredible results at last year’s Housing Summit in London.
The committee is also acting to target key MPs in a joined-up way to get our message across collectively. Over the next 2-3 months we will be talking to around a dozen or so MPs identified as critical to current Government policy and opposition thinking, to ensure they know what we are delivering and the vital role we play for people and communities. With such a volatile political environment at the moment it is vital we work together to get our collective message across, not just act in our own self-interest. To ensure we don’t cut across relationships, where we are as a region speaking to a particular MP we will contact the local housing association(s) to let them know.