Representatives from Newark and Sherwood Homes attended a recent All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for ALMOs meeting at the House of Commons in London recently to call for the Government to allow councils to finance the building of 60,000 much needed new homes over five years.
Vice chairman of the board Jean Solder attended alongside Rebecca Rance, chief executive of Newark and Sherwood Homes and Patrick Mercer MP to represent the Newark and Sherwood District. Also in attendance were representatives of the Association of Retained Council Housing, the Chartered Institute of Housing, the Local Government Association and CWAG (Councils with ALMOs Group).
Jean said: “This was a great opportunity to raise the issue with MPs and to inform them of our situation here in Newark and Sherwood with such a dire housing shortage. In the District we currently have a housing stock of 5,200 properties, but still 5,655 families are currently awaiting a home on the housing list. This just goes to show how vital it is that the Government allows flexibility to enable councils to get building again, ease the housing shortage and help the local economy too.”
The APPG follows the release of a report called ‘Let’s Get Building’, which states the case for ‘a golden opportunity’ to help tackle the housing crisis and to stimulate the economy and create jobs. The report identifies the main problem as ‘the centrally imposed debt ceiling on councils which prevents them from releasing the capacity tied up in their housing stock.’
MP Patrick Mercer said: “The number of families and single people aged between 20-34 who wish to have a home of their own is increasing in the district. We also have a high number of elderly people within our community and again there is a requirement for more accommodation that is suitable for them. The recent APPG was a chance for councils and ALMOs to put forward their views, as they did on behalf of the people of Newark and Sherwood district to ensure that this area is able to meet the needs of its population, now and in the future.”
The regional plan revealed back in 2006 that there would be a requirement in the district for 14,800 new homes over the next 20 years. The situation is particularly urgent as the population is predicted to increase in the district by 10.7% by 2026, with an anticipated 27.7 per cent growth in households.
The report points out that there is a very strong case that such activity would stimulate the economy, with the construction sector’s massive spare capacity making it very well placed to respond.
It says that 92p out of every £1 spent on building stays in the UK, with 36p of that bringing direct savings in tax and benefits.
The report comes one year after government published its housing strategy for England and argues that local authorities need to be given more freedom to play a leading role in providing new homes.
It has been published by the National Federation of ALMOs (of which Newark and Sherwood Homes is one of 54 members) and produced in association with the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH), the Local Government Association (LGA), the Association of Retained Council Housing (ARCH) and supported by the Councils with ALMOs Group (CWAG).
The organisations, which represent councils, housing professionals and social housing providers, are calling on government to unlock the potential of local authorities to build by removing the restrictions on borrowing, which councils and the markets agree is unnecessary.
Newark and Sherwood Homes is the Management Organisation that was set up by Newark and Sherwood District Council in 2004 to manage, maintain and improve council housing. The organisation is committed to making positive improvements to the homes and facilities it manages, as well as adding value to tenants’ lives through a programme of enhancing opportunities and training. Newark and Sherwood Homes’ aim is to deliver excellent housing services.
For more information visit the website www.nshomes.co.uk.