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.
26 June 2019
Housing associations in the West Midlands should be proud in my view to be the only region to have come together to hold a conference specifically for tenants. The Together with Tenants meeting delivered by the National Housing Federation and Matrix Housing Partnership brought together more than 100 customers from across the West Midlands on 1 May to take an honest and challenging look at the draft charter. The results were enlightening. There was broad acceptance that the charter was a ‘good thing’, although more work needs to be done on the language, and most crucially, making it meaningful and probably measurable. The regional committee feels we have built momentum here and potentially created something special, so at our meeting earlier in May we began to explore what we might do next. Supporting Together with Tenants and involving customers will be a key outcome for our work plan for 2019-20.
We also agreed that for the year ahead we need to continue to bang the drum about delivering thousands of new homes each year – the West Midlands has a strong track record on this and it is vital we get the message out that we as housing associations are doing all we can to tackle the housing crisis. Our key partners in this are as ever local authorities and Homes England, with growing momentum around the New Ways of Working strategic partnerships; almost all around the table at our meeting are ramping up the supply of new homes and we hope to evidence that coming through in the next couple of quarters of data.
The Voluntary Right to Buy pilot is still working through the system and we talked about making sure we have the evidence we need to talk meaningfully to the Government about the cost, value and learning from that pilot. It was important to do what we said we would do, and we have. Whether the scheme represents the best mechanism for helping people enter into home ownership will require detailed analysis when the pilot is over. So for this year we will remain across that key work stream.
We as a committee want to explore how the West Midlands region could do more to tackle homelessness over the coming months and that will be a key topic for the next meeting. Much has happened in the past year around Housing First and the Mayoral Task Force; now we want to widen that out if we can and think about what more we can potentially do.
Finally, we had an excellent West Midlands Leaders Conference, which was put together by the committee and included a range of expert speakers on topics from technology to domestic abuse. We were very pleased that Kate Henderson, Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation, was among the 10 female and four male speakers at a day attended by around 50 board members and executives from across the region. Watch this space for the autumn event, which will be jointly held with the East Midlands.