Ready, willing and able

The big news in our sector this week is the cross-party commission that has told the government it needs to build more than three million homes.

Weronika and Hakam Kharsa and their two twin girls Jasmine and Sadeel with Anne Rowlands, Railway Housing Association Chief Executive, and Peter Elliott, Tolent Living Project Manager.

There are many positive things to come out of the report, the first thing being that it has been produced by people from different sides of the political spectrum.

It was particularly pleasing to see the government being challenged on its belief that social housing should be seen as a safety net and a stepping stone to home ownership.

This has been part of Conservative ideology for a long time, so it will be interesting to see how the government reacts to a ‘few of their own’ saying social housing should no longer just be seen as a last resort.

Those of us who work in social housing already know that it has become a preferred choice for many who want affordable rents and greater security that the private sector can’t provide, and it’s a fact that house buying is no longer the be-all and end-all for people – particularly the young. Times have changed.

The commission is correct in putting the provision of housing on a par with health and education. After the post-war housing boom, people were told housing benefit would take the strain, but that is no longer the case, so building more affordable homes will address this.

Having a high quality, well-heated and maintained home undoubtedly helps people’s health and wellbeing. So, if this government (or future ones) heed the commission’s call, then long-term, it may even contribute to welfare and health savings.

So, there are lots of things to welcome in the commission’s report but, proof, as ever, will be in the pudding.

It will be interesting to see how the government responds. It is currently committed to increasing social house building by just over 6,000 homes a year, so this will need to change drastically if the three million target is to be achieved.

I know one housing association that has just entered its 100th year and ready to make its contribution!