On Wednesday 24 March, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick MP, addressed the National Housing Summit. In an engaging and positive session, Jenrick laid out the government’s key housing priorities and took questions from delegates from across the sector. The interactive session covered a range of topics including the Social Housing White Paper, Together with Tenants, building safety, the supply of new homes, and the sector’s important work during the coronavirus pandemic.
In his address, Jenrick discussed the challenges we face as a country as we look to ‘build back better’ and thanked housing associations for the work they have done to support residents and communities throughout the pandemic. He was candid about the scale of the challenge facing the country following the pandemic but was resolute in his belief in the role housing associations could play during the recovery:
‘I think the social housing sector has a very special role to play in this endeavor [recovery] – inspired by your historic social mission as a force for public good’
We’ve summarised some of the key points below.
The Charter on Social Housing proposed in the White Paper was a key focus of the address. Jenrick stated that greater transparency, fairness and accountability is high on his agenda for the future of social housing. Jenrick thanked housing associations for their work in this area, referencing the NHF’s Together with Tenants charter and praising housing associations for the leadership they have shown.
The Secretary of State spoke of the ‘important contribution’ that social landlords make to housing delivery. Delivery targets have been adjusted to 180,000 affordable homes between 2021 and 2026 as a result of pandemic disruption. Among these, the Secretary State spoke about delivering at least 32,000 homes for social rent, more than double the number included in the previous programme. Furthermore, 10% of homes delivered through this programme will be for supported housing. Elsewhere in housing supply, there were changes to shared ownership, where we know our members continue to have concerns. Jenrick referred to a new, more consumer-focused model of shared-ownership that he believes will ‘iron out the difficulties’ of the previous model.
The Secretary of State spoke at length about the continuing importance of prioritising building safety and recognised the strong leadership that the sector has shown in this area. He was clear that a proportional and safety-led solution will be pursued by the current administration and this will be funded with an initial £3.5bn of government funding.
The Secretary of State acknowledged the ‘huge challenges’ that housing associations are facing in balancing their work to protect vulnerable residents during the pandemic and to deliver on safety, whilst meeting the net zero targets set by government. He made a clear commitment to continue working through these issues in close partnership with the sector.
The Secretary of State closed his address with reference to the strong relationship he and his team has with the NHF, something we have prioritised building and strengthening since the General Election. We will continue to use this collaborative relationship to advocate for our members and their views to ensure that their thoughts, ideas, and concerns are heard and, crucially, listened to.
If you weren’t able to attend the National Housing Summit, you can watch the speech, or read the speech transcript on MHCLG’s website.