Is it possible to end the housing crisis within a generation? Mark Henderson, chief executive of Tyneside-based Home Group says political will is needed for the home-building revolution that the UK needs.
If you could build houses on goodwill alone we wouldn’t have a housing crisis in this country.
In November, the housing fraternity joined together to support #HousingDay – an initiative launched to celebrate all that’s great about the industry. It served a deeper purpose by counteracting some of the pernicious bile promoted by so called ‘benefits porn’ programmes such as Benefits Street.
Was it a success? Undoubtedly. At one stage, it trended #3 on Twitter for the UK behind the stellar news of the space mission to land a probe on a comet and the more down to earth madness of Take That’s 2015 tour!
More than 30,000 tweets were posted – at an average of 1,248 every hour – which collectively reached an audience of seven million people.
But this is not about whether or not it was a success. The more pertinent question is: “will it make a difference?”
The National Housing Federation has galvanised the social housing sector behind a brilliant campaign. It has a simple call – End the Housing Crisis Within a Generation.
This is a gauntlet laid at the door of the politicians and decision makers to deliver, once and for all, one of life’s most basic and human necessities – a decent roof over the heads of our families.
On March 17, 2015, the biggest housing rally in a generation is set to take place in London. It will take the message to parties of all colours that they all have a role to play in resolving this most important of issues.
Now for a little context.
There are expected to be 232,000 new households formed in England each year for the next decade. We completed 109,370 new homes last year. So, to end the housing crisis for the new households alone we need to more than double production.
Then we need to consider the backlog. There are around 1.8m families on council waiting lists for properties. That is a scandalous amount.
Home Group calculates that we need to consistently be building 275,000 new homes each and every year to achieve the target of ending the housing crisis within a generation.
Is it achievable? Definitely. If there is the will then the wherewithal can be found.
Can we afford it? We know the UK is currently running a huge deficit. Spiriting money out of thin air to fund bricks and mortar is a tough ask. But it is not impossible.
Good quality, affordable housing is the bedrock of people’s health, wealth and wellbeing. It reduces demand on services such as GP surgeries and Accident and Emergency departments. It provides stability for employment and it generates safer, stronger communities.
As housing providers, we need to work closely with partners in local government and in the private sector to find new and innovative ways to deliver housing where it is most needed and at the right price.
As civil members of society, we all need to get behind the National Housing Federation’s campaign to End the Housing Crisis Within a Generation. Directly or indirectly, we will all be better off by making a change that will last a lifetime.