G15 Supports new Housing Today campaign

The G15 is supporting a new Housing Today campaign, A Fair Deal for Housing, that aims to increase house building.

The campaign calls on the government to re-commit to its manifesto pledge of building 300,000 homes a year by the middle of the decade and is backed by cross-sector federations.

Over the next few months, Housing Today will be exploring potential solutions, including different ways of working and policy ideas, that could boost housebuilding. The campaign aims to start a constructive conversation across the industry around how we can move forward in order to deliver a fair deal for housing.

G15 Chair, and CEO of MTVH, Geeta Nanda shares her thoughts on the campaign:

It is far from a secret that the UK is suffering from a chronic lack of affordable housing. So much so, that there is broad consensus across the housing industry and government, that quite simply we need more genuinely affordable homes for people to rent and buy.

The public knows this too. Polling this week from Ipsos shows that 7 in 10 people agree there is a housing crisis in the UK, with around the same number supporting more home building in their local area, but crucially, if those homes are affordable to local people.

We also know that this sentiment is shared by the Secretary of State. At the Shelter conference in April, not only did he accept that there had been a failure to ensure enough homes were built which are genuinely affordable for all, but vitally and correctly, he diagnosed that action is urgently needed to address the lack of social housing in particular.

The dire need for more social homes to rent is supported by research from the National Housing Federation. This estimates that social rented housing is the most appropriate tenure for around half of the 8.5m people in England with an unmet housing need.

Unsurprisingly, as housing associations, we see on a daily basis the striking impact this shortage of homes for social rent is having on people. Too many people are suffering from overcrowding, because appropriate accommodation is simply unavailable. Too many people are left on waiting lists for years without hope of any home at all.

Again, none of this is unknown. The facts, figures, and countless stories from people across the country of the housing crisis they face, has been available for some time to those in the business of building homes, including those in government. The evidence is rarely disputed.

What is now coming to light though, is the shocking impact that the dearth of affordable housing is having. Research conducted by my own organisation, MTVH, has shown the impact the lack of housing prospects is having on young people. Young residents from across the country told us that they want a secure housing future, but felt it was unrealistic. Alarmingly, alongside the powerful testimony we heard, exclusive opinion polling we commissioned found that four in five young people are putting off life decisions, such as whether to start a family or what jobs they will apply for, because of the uncertainty surrounding their housing future.

Failure to tackle the housing crisis now will strip away opportunity from the next generation. The cost to them and to wider society is potentially tragic. That is why I was pleased to hear a senior official in the Department of Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities speak at the Housing 2022 Conference this week, emphasising the vital role of new housing in achieving the government’s levelling up agenda. People deserve to live in high-quality homes. As such, across the housing sector, we must have a shared commitment towards ‘levelling up’ when we build more homes and improve those we already provide.

There is certainly willingness to do this. We all share the same concerns; we all have the same knowledge of the problem at hand. The time has come to translate this into action. That’s why the G15 – the group of housing associations that collectively provide 650,000 homes across the country – is backing the ‘A Fair Deal for Housing’ campaign led by Housing Today. It’s time to turn all the reports and all the positive warm words into clear action that gets the homes the country needs built.

G15 members build around three-quarters of all affordable homes in London each year, and 15% of all those built across the country. We want to work with government to make sure that we can boost the delivery of new homes further, whilst we also make important investments in our existing homes to improve standards.

The challenges we face in achieving this are not insignificant. They include building safety costs, the costs of achieving net zero and rising construction costs too.

Yet, building more affordable homes is an imperative, not a luxury. The ‘A Fair Deal for Housing’ campaign rightly identifies practical steps to support us in doing this. After all, the homes we are talking about are homes everyone agrees the country needs. There is no more time to waste.

A version of this article first appeared on Housing Today on 4 July 2022.