New housing minister Mark Prisk wasted little time throwing down a challenge to housing associations in what was his ninth working day in the job at the National Housing Federation (NHF) annual conference in Birmingham.
Making his first key note address since his appointment, Mr Prisk briefly reiterated the Government’s intentions to make building new homes “front and centre” of its economic plans and pledged to work with the sector to “get it right”.
He also encouraged housing associations to reach out to a wider group of people – following a briefing earlier in the day that he would use his speech to call on social landlords to branch out to meet the demand for private rented homes.
He said: “I think you can do more. There’s a great opportunity to use your experience to develop homes and serve a wider group of people.”
He pointed to Thames Valley Housing’s Fizzy Living scheme – which offers newly-built flats for rent on the open market in London’s East End – and mixed tenure developments by L&Q as examples where housing associations were serving a wider demographic than their traditional customer base.
“We want you to be bold,” he said.
Importantly, he pledged to work with the NHF and housing associations to address supply.
He said: “If we work together I think we can make a fundamental difference to what has been a generational problem.”
Earlier, fellow Cornishman and NHF chair Matthew Taylor welcomed Mr Prisk into his new role and invited him to join the Homes for Britain campaign, a union of 40 organisations – including the Local Government Association, CBI, RIBA, the Chartered Institute of Housing etc – campaigning to make housing the number one issue at the forthcoming party conferences.