Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Housing, housing, housing

At the recent annual conference of the National Housing Federation the organisation unveiled its ‘Homes for Britain’ campaign.

The aim of the campaign is to try to put housing at the top of the agenda in the run up to next year’s General Election and to call on the next government to commit to end the housing crisis within a generation.

Launching the campaign, NHF Chief Executive David Orr said since the mid-1970s there have been no housing policies and that as a result there is a severe shortage of good quality homes in the UK.

DAMHA is supporting the campaign because in the North-East, in particular, as a sector we are struggling to meet the demand for new homes.

There is a high proportion of people over 65 on Durham County Council’s waiting list and also our own waiting list which, at 1,883 applicants, is larger than the number of properties owned.

With the reducing availability of capital grants, the delivery of new homes will require a much greater level of private finance and utilisation of the Association’s own reserves. This is difficult because housing associations like DAMHA now have a regulatory requirement to demonstrate value for money, so we unfortunately just can’t throw money at the problem.

Despite this, in the past five years we have delivered an average of 36 new homes per year and we are now projecting an average of 15 new homes each year.

Of course, we would like to build more homes and perhaps by getting the next government to put housing at the top of its policy agenda, we, along with other social housing providers, will benefit, and as a result so will the people on waiting lists.

Until then, we need to build up momentum between now and next year’s election. There are lots of ways people who are concerned about the housing crisis can help, from writing a letter to your local MP setting out your housing concerns, through to attending the biggest housing rally in a generation, which will take place in London on 17th March 2015.

Tony Blair once said his top priority was ‘education, education, education’, so who knows, with your support, perhaps the country’s next prime minister will say it is ‘housing, housing, housing’!

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