Homes for the South West – Spring Newsletter

Victor da Cunha, Chair of Homes for the South West

I am delighted to share with you our first newsletter of 2022. It has certainly been a busy start to the year and it was a pleasure to see so many of you – MPs, Peers, Local Authorities and Academics – at our Parliamentary reception in March to discuss the challenge of delivering more quality, affordable homes across our region. As an alliance of 11 leading regional Housing Associations, Homes for the South West shares your passion for meeting this challenge and we stand ready to continue growing our investment in the South West. It was heartening to see so many faces from across parties and the region come together to tackle this common cause and I call on all of us to continue to make the case for affordable housing in the region.

Our Chief Executives and Research Partners in Parliament (left to right): Victor da Cunha, Charles Pitt, Louise Swain, Russell Baldwinson, Jonathan Layzell, Andy Skarzynski, Dr Stephen Hall, Robert Nettleton, Professor Hannah Hickman, Ruth Cooke.

We mustn’t forget that, despite being one of the most beautiful regions in England, the South West has unique social and economic challenges which all too often are not properly understood. The region was one of the worst-hit parts of the UK for job disruption during the pandemic, and at the same time continues to face prohibitively high house prices, up to fourteen times the average annual income. This, combined with the prevalence of second homes and holiday lets, can mean that access to affordable, quality housing feels out of reach for many. If Levelling Up is to deliver more opportunities and improvement of standards, it’s clear there is more to do.

Finally, we were proud to launch our research project with University of the West of England at our reception which will provide one of the most comprehensive pieces of work on the challenges of affordable housing supply in the South West, examining the data down to local authority level. The findings will be vital in  understanding the different barriers to better and more affordable housing in each area and we look forward to sharing the final report with you this summer.

I very much look forward to continuing our work to level up our region with affordable housing in partnership with you over the coming months. Please do read on for a summary of our recent activity.

Victor da Cunha
Chair, Homes for the South West
Group Chief Executive, Curo

Parliamentary Reception

On 15th March our Chief Executives, alongside Local Authority representatives and our research partners at the University of West of England, travelled to Westminster to meet with MPs and Peers from across the region.

At the event, we heard from the MP for North Cornwall, Scott Mann, who spoke passionately about delivering more good quality, affordable home across the region for local residents, as well as from Dr Stephen Hall from UWE who outlined the research project we have commissioned into regional housing need. It was deeply encouraging to hear you all so united and spirited in your support for greater affordable housing supply for the families in our region.

If you weren’t able to attend the reception please do get in touch as we would love to meet with you and involve you in the growing movement to address the unique and significant housing shortage  in this beautiful part of the country. If you are based around Westminster/London, we can also offer you a photo opportunity with one of our placards to pledge your support for greater affordable housing supply in the South West.

In wider regional developments, Selaine Saxby MP raised the South West’s housing crisis during Prime Minister’s Questions and called on the Prime Minister to urgently address this severe and complex housing shortage. Cllr Steve Darling also raised asks on affordable housing supply as part of the Devon County Deal submission.

Photos of Chief Executives and guests at our parliamentary event.

Research with the University of the West of England

The South West is made up of many different economies, each with its own independent challenges affecting affordable housing supply. 

To that end we have commissioned a local partner, the University of the West of England, to conduct the most comprehensive study of housing need at a local authority level throughout the region and to consider how this might be affected by the changes emerging from the pandemic. 

Work has already started on the project and we’re looking forward to the final results this summer, which we will of course share with you. If you are interested in learning more about this project, please do get in touch. 

Academics from the University of the West of England who are conducting the independent research: Dr Stephen Hall (left), Professor Hannah Hickman (middle).