Homes for the South West calls for £1 billion Government funding to level up the region
Coalition launches house-building manifesto to deliver affordable, sustainable housing.
The Homes for the South West (H4SW) group of housing associations is calling for £1 billion from Government to almost double their new housing output and boost the region’s post-COVID recovery.
Image above: homes at Curo’s Mulberry Park development of 700 homes in Bath
In its manifesto launched today, Building for the Future: Levelling up the South West’s economy with quality, affordable & sustainable housing, the coalition sets out a commitment to a £4 billion programme that will deliver 25,000 homes over the next 5 years. The manifesto also includes a pledge to increase this by another 20,000 homes if Government can provide additional support.
House-building will be critical to the success of the South West’s recovery from COVID-19 and addressing longstanding inequalities according to the coalition. The region’s job market has been one of the worst hit by the pandemic[i], highlighting a reliance on low-wage sectors including tourism and hospitality, and this sits alongside prohibitively high house prices in many areas[ii]. Recent figures for the region show house prices are 11 times median annual earnings[iii] with affordability expected to decrease as house prices across the country continue to soar.
An estimated 42,000 new homes are required per year in the South West in order to meet housing need, of which 15,000 need to be affordable housing.[iv] In addition to financial support, H4SW is calling on the Government to initiate public sector land reform and offer greater flexibility on tenure. These measures would prevent developers ‘land-banking’, enable faster delivery of new public housing that meets local residents’ need, and benefit the economy.[v]
Delivery of the coalition’s latest commitment to 25,000 new homes will support the employment of approximately 77,500 people and provide 850 apprentice, graduate or trainee roles. An additional £1bn from Government will allow the group to attract a further £3bn private financing, expanding their programme and increasing local employment opportunities across the region.
Homes for the South West Chair and CEO of Curo, Victor da Cunha said: “Good quality, sustainable, housing that people can afford to live in is absolutely essential to the growth of economic and employment opportunities. That’s why we need to put housing at the heart of our post-COVID recovery in the South West. Homes for the South West members have the ambition and the capacity to help Build Back Better and so we’re asking Government to help us go further faster. This will not only support those hardest hit by the pandemic, but also help unlock the untapped potential of our region for the benefit of local people and the local economy.”
The coalition’s calls for Government support have attracted cross-party support from MPs with constituencies in the region.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, MP for North East Somerset, said: “Building new homes, affordable to local employees, will support the regional recovery in the South West, enabling people to live near their place of work, whilst driving construction supply chains and creating new jobs in the future.”
Wera Hobhouse, MP for Bath, said: “The shortage of affordable housing in the South West is constraining our region’s economic growth. We need to ensure we have a good supply of truly affordable homes so that all of our communities can flourish. If we are to truly level-up, social and affordable rented homes like those provided by Homes for the South West will have a significant role to play.”
Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West said: “In Bristol, like many other parts of the South West, we have some of the richest areas in the country next door to some of the poorest. Private rents have continued to increase and homelessness is on the rise. While local authorities across the region are working with Housing Associations to build affordable properties for social rent and shared ownership, more support is needed from Government to accelerate these programmes and ensure that everyone has a safe and secure place to live. It’s essential that we take a long-term approach to this and, in particular, ensure that these new homes are warm and environmentally sustainable for the future.”
[iv] Professor Glen Bramley, Housing supply requirements across Great Britain: for low-income households and homeless people (November 2018)
[v] The economic value of construction is significant with £2.84 generated in economic activity for every £1 spent. (Capital Economics submission to Shelter’s Commission on the Future of Social Housing, 2018)