The need for housing hasn’t gone away
As the UK prepares for a general election on 8 June, Chief Executive Lindsey Williams takes a look at the housing sector with a social purpose.
I was reminded (if I needed to be) of the dramatic affect poverty and lack of housing can have on individuals when I was on my way to see a concert in Birmingham recently.
Walking through a very dimly lit passage way I was shocked by the number of men and women who were street homeless and settling down for the night on cold, dirty concrete paving.
A floral tribute with candles was on display for someone who had passed away a few days before. A few years ago, local authorities had been extremely successful in tackling and preventing street homelessness.
But constant funding cuts mean work such as this has been significantly reduced, if not removed. So the work that Futures, and many more housing associations, does is vital – as is that of organisations like Shelter, who constantly work to keep the housing debate going.
Just days before, I was on a whistle-stop tour of new housing schemes that have just been completed, on site or are in the pipeline.
It gave me the opportunity to see the different types of housing that we are developing and funding. I was surprised, in some areas, to see how much housing development is underway.
Even so we, as a country, are not building enough homes to provide for all.
From traditional houses for affordable rent in Daventry to more contemporary apartments on the outskirts of Northampton for market rent – all will provide much needed homes that are well designed and built.
At the end of the 2016/17 financial year, Futures had provided an additional 177 homes during the year – with many more in the pipeline and some due for completion this month. Providing a wider range of tenures – rent, shared ownership, market rent and sale – will position Futures for greater opportunities on development sites where mixed tenure is required.
I’m really pleased that our plan of providing a wider range of homes to a more diverse range of customers is coming to fruition.
Every affordable home that is developed requires subsidy – why? The rents that can be charged do not cover the cost of building, managing and maintaining the homes in the long term.
This is something that is not generally understood by the wider population – and why should it be – it doesn’t make sense to any business to provide a product that doesn’t cover its costs does it?
Unless that business is one with a social purpose and has been set up to provide for those in need. That is exactly what Futures is about.
Providing homes for market rent and sale is primarily being done to create cash surplus to plough back into Futures to deliver on our objectives – one of which is the provision of more homes.
With a surprise election being announced – I wonder whether housing will feature as a critical issue or whether a national crisis will get lost in the debate about a hard or soft Brexit deal…
We are hosting an event on 3 May – bringing together local authorities, housing associations, developers and influential organisations, LAs, HAs, developers and organisations within the East Midlands. We will certainly try to keep the focus on the need for housing and the impact on individuals affected by welfare reform changes.
So if you do nothing more when your local MP or prospective MP comes calling for your vote – ask them what they are going to do about the Housing Crisis.