If you read my last post, you will know that ‘the Britain that housing built’ is my key message to the Government in the countdown to the election. Since first discussing it at the NHF Hot House Future Leaders event a few months ago, I have revisited this message as part of something I’m working on in my day job to raise awareness of the election internally and externally, e.g. what it means for housing, what we want from it, how it affects us, how we can influence things, etc.
So what do I mean by ‘the Britain that housing built’? Well, in a nutshell, housing is so central to everything else (think education, crime, health, employment, wellbeing, local economies, inequality, I could go on), that if we get housing right, then so many other things will follow, the domino effect would be huge. There’s an approach to tackling homelessness in America called Housing First, which centres on providing housing as quickly as possible to those experiences homelessness and then providing other services as needed. I think we need to adopt this approach not just for homelessness, but for the good of the country.
You might have picked up on the fact I’ve been writing a dissertation recently, it would be a shame not to share some of my research findings with you, so here are some to support ‘the Britain that housing built’ message:
– The Cost-effectiveness in Housing Investment research program identified that poor living conditions resulting from underinvestment in housing, creates a number of additional costs for non-housing service providers, such as: educational performance can be hindered by poor, overcrowded and noisy home environments, whilst attendance can be affected where the home environment leads to poor health; high rates of certain crimes are associated with poorly designed and constructed homes; the risk of accident and fire is increased by poor housing conditions; energy consumption and environmental damage is increased by poorly designed homes; transaction and production costs for goods and services rise and regional economies suffer as essential, low-paid workers are unable to live close to centres of economic activity (such as public-sector workers); areas of poor housing are generally concentrated in less desirable areas with high unemployment; this fosters segregation and polarisation; and a range of serious health problems result from poor housing.
– Repossessions, negative equity, take up of pensions and national and corporate financial instability are also indirect consequences of an unaffordable and volatile housing market.
– A lack of affordable housing results in a number of households having limited housing options, leaving them open to exploitation by rogue landlords.
– Adequate and affordable housing plays an important role in achieving and maintaining an inclusive and cohesive society; both civilised society and our economic and social wellbeing depends upon a balanced housing market that offers sufficient choice, quality and supply in well designed and sustainable communities.
– Kate Barker summarised the overall situation well:
“I do not believe that continuing at the current rate of housebuilding is a realistic option, unless we are prepared to accept increasing problems of homelessness, affordability and social division, decline in standards of public service delivery and increasing the costs of doing business in the UK – hampering our economic success”.
I’ve got a bit more thinking to do about how I get this message out there (you may see me with a banner at the Homes for Britain rally!) and how to include it in the countdown to the election work I’m doing in my day job, but it’s reassuring that the latest YouGov polls put housing as the 5th most important issue facing the country