Homes For The South West – Spring Newsletter 2023

As we approach the Easter break, I wanted to share our latest quarterly newsletter on the key issues affecting housing in the South West.

This will also be my final newsletter as the Chair of Homes for the South West, a role I have been proud to fulfil for almost four years. In that time, I have had the pleasure to meet with many of you and share our passion for the region, and the social and economic importance of access to good quality, affordable housing.

It has been good to work with you on important issues, whether putting the needs of the South West firmly into the levelling-up agenda, hosting our parliamentary reception last year, or profiling the unique needs affecting the region to policymakers.

This newsletter comes following a period of busy activity for Homes for the South West. Since our last update in December, we have been working with many of you to shape the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill to better encompass the need for more affordable, high-quality homes. We also recently published our research report, carried out by the University of the West of England, on the affordable housing picture in the region – providing the most comprehensive data ever and painting a stark update on the challenges to affordable housing delivery across local authorities.

I am delighted to now hand over to Louise Swain, Group Chief Executive of Alliance Homes. Louise has a formidable understanding of the issues facing the sector and extensive experience in delivering much-needed new homes in the region. I very much look forward to seeing her take forward our exciting programme of work and continuing to build our relationships with you.

Thank you all for your continuing support.

Victor da Cunha

Chair, Homes for the South West

Levelling Up & Regeneration Bill

As the Levelling Up & Regeneration Bill makes its way through the House of Lords, we have been proactively engaging with Peers to discuss the Bill and where it can be improved to deliver on affordable housing with the implementation of the Infrastructure Levy.

Over these past months, it has been hugely encouraging to see widespread support from many of you for strengthening provisions on affordable housing and we will continue to engage as the Bill passes through Committee to Report stage.

Specifically, when it comes to the parts of the Bill which deal with the proposed new infrastructure levy, we are firm in our belief that there is space to strengthen the provisions of the Bill and ensure that the levy maintains or even exceeds the current level of affordable housing. We would like to thank those of you who have taken the time to meet with us. We are hopeful that in working together, the government will hear our collective call that affordable housing delivery should be protected and that there are no unintended consequences from the Bill’s current drafting. 

UWE Report

Earlier this month, we published research with University of the West of England (UWE) into housing affordability and affordable housing need in the South West.

The findings in the report are stark and highlight that most local authority areas in the South West are significantly less affordable than the rest of England as a whole.

Notable findings include low levels of affordability and shortage in housing delivery:

  • House prices in the South West have risen nearly fourfold – while median wages have only risen by 83%.
  • In some regions such as Bristol, the increase in house prices surpassed 500%.
  • Factors such as second homes and short-term holiday lets are having local impacts and the largest concentrations were typically found in areas with the highest shortfalls in housing delivery – Cornwall, Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole.
  • Affordability in the South West continues to be worse than the English median – and is getting worse over time.

With the housing crisis in South-West England reaching breaking point, we are calling on the Government to support affordable housing delivery and enshrine the 5-year land supply in housing targets.

Looking ahead: A message from incoming Chair, Louise Swain

As I take up the role of Chair of Homes for the South West later this month, I’d like to thank Vic and the team at Curo for their excellent stewardship and many achievements to date. Whilst the Chancellor’s recent statement at the Budget indicated some optimism on the economic outlook going into the rest of the year, there is still much to do at a time of crisis in affordability for many.

As a short introduction, I have been the Group Chief Executive of Alliance Homes since 2016, one of the largest registered providers of social housing in North Somerset. I have worked within social housing at a senior level for over 20 years and throughout this time, my continued passion has been for delivering the services and homes that local people need.

I look forward to meeting with many of you and building upon the strong relationships that Homes for the South West has forged across the region. Looking ahead as Chair, I remain committed to working with all of our stakeholders and community partners to overcome the obstacles to affordable, sustainable and high-quality housing.

I look forward to working with you all in the time ahead.

Louise Swain

Incoming Chair, Homes for the South West