Housing Pact offers sector innovation in return for government commitment
The housing sector today delivered its Housing Pact to the minister, Grant Shapps, promising creativity, constant improvement and a major contribution to economic recovery in return for government commitment to housing.
The Housing Pact lays out nine ‘asks’ of the government and in return offers innovative ways to deliver more affordable housing with less money, make better use of existing homes and focus scarce resources on providing quality services to those who need them most.
Sarah Webb, Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) started by raising concerns with the minister that housing might be “on the wrong list” with number 10 and number 11 along with big government and expensive public services to be abolished. She stressed however that the housing should be seen as crucial to tackling ‘Broken Britain’ and to helping to address the budget deficit as well as working tirelessly to ensure no one is trapped in poverty by their housing.
She said: “We’re not interested in defending inefficiency or waste. We’re not stuck in the past – adhering rigidly to one way of thinking or behaving. We don’t want to deny aspiration – in fact we all come to work to help improve life chances and support communities to thrive. But nor will we stop fighting for affordable rented housing as a positive tenure of choice and not as a tenure of last resort for those that can’t buy.”
The Housing Pact asked for nine government commitments and in return offered its support:
• that the government continues to invest in the building of new affordable homes with long term and flexible funding packages. In return the housing sector pledges to help make the local incentives model work, to be more innovate in pursing new partnerships and new delivery models
• that the government acts quickly to set out how we move from national targets to localism. In return the housing sector pledges to play a key part in helping make the local incentives model work.
• that the government anchors its reform of housing benefit in the work of the Poverty Commission and supports wider reforms of the housing system which promote mobility and real choice. In return, the housing sector will promote employment and do everything it can to tackle worklessness.
• that the government gives housing providers more flexibility to set rents, to sell or buy the houses they need and to manage their assets in the best interests of their local communities. In return the housing sector will make the best use of their asset base.
• that there is a housing presence on the Long Term Care Commission and that the housing minister makes a clear case to the Treasury for the continuation of Supporting People funding. In return housing professionals offer will use this money to deliver preventative support that saves precious NHS resources.
• that the government reforms the council house funding system so that local authorities can spend their tenant’s rent money in their local area. In return housing professionals will provide supporting arguments to help to make this happen and then use the additional investment to deliver more and better homes in line with local priorities.
• that the government prioritises retrofitting, offering incentives to encourage investment by households and private industry. In return the sector will help government reduce the 27 per cent of emissions coming from housing.
• that government departments stop working in silos and adopt the ‘total place’ approach. In return housing professionals will do the same and use the significant efficiency savings that result to do more for less.
• that the government recognise the work of the Tenant Services Authority (TSA) and proceed with an open mind in reviewing regulation, in particular preserving the standards approach and ensuring economic and consumer regulation continues in some form . In return the housing sector promises to drive forward continuous improvement.
The full transcript of Sarah Webb’s speech to the Chartered Institute of Housing annual UK conference in Harrogate is available in our media centre.