Safe at home? Property standards during lockdown

This pandemic has shown just how much we all need a safe and secure home to retreat to. But for some of us, staying at home means spending more time in accommodation that does not meet basic standards of decency, risking the health and wellbeing of millions of Northerners. Northern Housing Consortium Member Engagement Officer Matthew Wilson looks at what the data tells us about the homes people have spent lockdown in.

1.3million homes – 1 in 5 homes across the North – fail to meet relatively basic quality standards, and half of all non-decent accommodation is home to someone more vulnerable to the pandemic.

Putting this right means rethinking our approach to housing. After the pandemic passes, we need to invest in the quality of the North’s homes, making them fit for the future and ensuring everyone has a safe and secure home to retreat to when we need to.

A Northern picture

Of these 1 in 5 homes in the North – some 1.3million abodes failing to meet the Decent Homes Standard – almost half are in the North West region[1]. Rates of non-decency however are highest in Yorkshire and the Humber, where 22% of homes fail to meet the standard. The North East fares best, reflecting higher levels of social housing in the region, where standards are higher overall.

While there is clearly an uneven geography, analysis by tenure presents starker contrasts. Non-decency is most acute among the North’s private rented homes, where more than a quarter of homes fail to meet the decent homes standard. These conditions will compound effects of the pandemic, with quality issues compiling pressure on renters who have also faced concerns about their security of tenure and ability to pay the rent.

Worryingly, the most common reason for Northern homes failing the Decent Homes Standard was the presence of a category one hazard: one that presents serious and immediate risks to a person’s health. These were found in more than 1 in 10 Northern homes in the 2017 English Housing Survey[2], an annual survey of homes conducted for the Government, which includes physical inspection of thousands of properties across the country.

Decent Home Standard

The Decent Homes Standard is a relatively basic minimum standard established by the Government in the early 2000s.  The standard examines four criteria, checking whether homes are: free of ‘category one hazards’ – the most dangerous type of hazard, which present serious and immediate risks to a person’s health; in a reasonable state of repair – e.g. none of the key components (such as the windows, central heating boiler, electrics) require repair or replacement; has reasonably modern facilities and services – e.g. a kitchen with adequate space and layout, an appropriately located bathroom and WC; and provides a reasonable degree of thermal comfort – e.g. the homes has efficient heating and effective insulation.

Housing standards and the pandemic

It is wrong that at a time when we’re all being asked to spend more time at home, so many of our fellow Northerners are living in accommodation that doesn’t meet minimum standards.

Poor quality housing has negative consequences for our health, placing additional strain on our health service both in the short-term, through injury from immediate hazards, and in the longer-term, with poor quality housing exacerbating health conditions, the presence of damp is known to be linked to respiratory diseases for example.

Poor quality homes also cost more to run, placing an unjust burden on the most vulnerable. We have perhaps been fortunate that the pandemic has struck in the spring, a time when we are not so reliant on heating to make our homes comfortable. Northern households are 10% more likely to live in fuel poverty than the rest of England[3].

What is so concerning in relation to the current pandemic is that half of the 1.3 million non-decent homes in the North is home to someone more vulnerable to the pandemic[4], someone aged over 65, with a long-term illness, or living with a disability. These are precisely the groups who are likely to live under lockdown or shielding for longer.

The problem of poor-quality housing is creating a problem for all of society. If we are to defeat COVID-19 we all rely on each other having a safe and secure place to retreat to. With homes contributing to ill health – or if people feel the need to spend longer outside their homes than would otherwise be essential – the? infections rate will be inflated, placing additional pressure on our NHS and threatening lives.

24% of all homes in the North were built before 1919 and 41% before 1944, above the England average of 37%[5]. In the North East, a quarter of all homes built before 1919 are non-decent, but this figure is a staggering 43% in the North West, and 47% in the Yorkshire and Humber. There has been a recent trend of the pace of Northern decent homes improvement stalling, with the North having the same proportion of England’s non-decent homes in 2017 than it did a decade earlier at 29%. We must focus our efforts on ensuring that the North has a housing stock fit for the future, redefining housing standards from an exacerbating factor of the pandemic to part of a progressive exit strategy, one which benefits the economy and the people of the region.

After the pandemic

As we plan our exit from the pandemic, our Government must act to invest in the quality of the North’s homes, making them fit for the future and ensuring everyone has a safe and secure home to retreat to when needed.

The NHC is calling on the Government to bring forward plans to decarbonise homes. We propose that the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund and Home Upgrade Grants pledged in the Conservative Election Manifesto is used as an immediate economic stimulus, creating jobs and upgrading homes across the North. In the longer term, a Housing Quality Investment Fund can be developed to level-up housing quality in the North. Such a fund would complement investment from councils and the private sector, targeting neighbourhoods with concentrations of poor-quality homes as a first step.

 

[1] Data from English Housing Survey stock condition 2017 AT2.7

[2] Data from English Housing Survey stock condition 2017 AT2.8

[3] Analysis for the NHC by the Smith Institute in 2018

[4]   Analysis for the NHC by the Smith Institute in 2018 showed that 48% of northern households in non-decent housing contained a resident (a ‘household reference person’) in one of these categories. More recent analysis suggests this has since risen to 51% of households in non-decent housing. We are grateful to the Smith Institute for their assistance with this analysis.

[5] Analysis for the NHC by the Smith Institute in 2018

 

Are you making the most of our member networks?

Our members are at the heart of everything we say and do. We pride ourselves on our ability to bring people together to share best practice, networking opportunities and expert insight from inside and outside of the sector. Last year we engaged with 100% of our member organisations from across the North East, North West and Yorkshire and Humber through meetings, events and through our series of regular networks.

These networks are free to attend and are member-invite only which allows for a safe environment to network, share best practice and discuss challenges and emerging sector issues. Each network focuses on a specific housing-related topic for example: homelessness, voids and lettings and repairs and maintenance or on a specific role such as policy, communications, executive assistant or procurement. With 17 different networks to choose from we hope to offer something for everyone.

Look through our list below and sign up!

 

North East Policy Network – this network is an opportunity for North East members, working across the business in areas from Policy & Strategy through to Housing Management and resident involvement, to connect together to share learning and updates.

 

North East Child Poverty Network – this network is open to North East members working in areas of poverty, social inclusion, financial inclusion and health and wellbeing in supporting their local communities and customers around mitigating the impact of poverty and financial hardship.

 

Yorkshire & Humber Policy Network – this network is an opportunity for members from the Yorkshire & Humber region to connect together to share learning and updates, these include those working across the business in areas from Policy & Strategy through to Housing Management and resident involvement.

 

Northern Homelessness Network – this network is open to all NHC members working in the fields of lettings, allocations, homelessness and supporting tenants and residents, to come together to discuss different aspects of tackling homelessness and elements of the HRACT, as well as hearing the latest policy updates, sharing learning and good practice.

 

EA (Executive Assistants) Network – this newly formed network is open to all Executive Assistants working in NHC member organisations, and provides EA’s the opportunity to connect and network, share learning and update your skills, knowledge and personal development.

 

BAME Network – this newly formed network is open to all NHC members working and providing housing services to the BAME community, the network provides the opportunity for colleagues to connect with others in like-minded organisations, to discuss BAME housing needs, barriers and opportunities and share learning and good practice.

 

Northern Youth Network –  this network in partnership with Clarion Housing is open to all Northern NHC members and provides the opportunity for all those working with children, young people and communities with the shared aim to provide quality services for young people within housing associations, local authorities and their communities to come together to share learning.

 

Voids and Lettings Network – this network is open to all NHC members working in the fields of lettings, and allocations, along with void repairs managers. All steps in the process are covered from termination of a tenancy to its subsequent relet and post relet support. Its aim is to allow members to discuss operations and the best practice available to reduce relet time, while creating sustainable lettings.

 

Repairs and Maintenance Network – this network has been recently formed following the challenges created by the Coronavirus outbreak. Members of the group are Managers and Directors responsible for the delivery of Repairs and Maintenance services covering responsive, day to day repairs, void repairs and compliance work. The network provides the opportunity to share and learn what others are doing in these challenging times.

 

Post Covid-19 network – This newly formed network will provide a forum to consider, discuss and exchange views and information on a range of issues in relation to the governance of the social housing sector and the wider operating environment. In the first instance, matters arising from the change of the strategic and operating environment caused by Covid-19 will be discussed.

 

RSH/NHC bilateral – This quarterly meeting is a joint discussion between the Regulator of Social Housing and the Northern Housing Consortium and representatives of its member organisations. Its purpose is to act as a forum for the mutual exchange of information and views on issues within the remit of the RSH and where this relates to the wider housing sector and to discuss relevant information including the work of the RSH, national policy developments and best practice amongst housing providers

 

VFM and regulation network – this network is used to disseminate information and developments in the world of Housing Regulation. It is attended by NHC members who work in Regulation, Finance and Performance and is a useful tool for members in confirming approaches being taken and in sharing recent experiences around regulatory engagement and In-Depth Assessment.

 

Procurement roundtables – our Procurement Roundtables are informal networks of procurement professionals who come together to collaborate, learn from each other and share best practice. They are designed to provide a forum for procurement professionals from our membership to meet, help shape our framework development plan, discuss current and emerging procurement issues, and explore opportunities for mutual working.

 

Communications in housing roundtables – These events take place bi-annually and offer an opportunity for communications teams within the NHC membership to come together to network, share best practice and to hear from experts in the field of communications and marketing. Topics are led by the members and have included evaluation and measurement, internal communications, digital transformation and much more.  The next meeting will take place virtually in July.

 

Safety in Neighbourhoods Network – Northern Housing Consortium’s Safety in Neighbourhoods Network is a free member forum to discuss all aspects of community safety and neighbourhood management. Members hear from expert speakers, share good practice, and discuss sector challenges in an open environment. Meetings are attended by legal professionals at Ward Hadaway who provide legal updates and feed into discussions.

 

NHC Disrepair Working Group – Run in partnership with Ward Hadaway, the NHC Disrepair Working Group was formed in response to the introduction of the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act. The Working Group provides a forum for NHC members to discuss the new working environment the Act has placed on their housing and asset management strategies in managing the expected upsurge in disrepair claims by tenants brought under conditional fee agreements.

 

Shared Ownership and Leasehold Network – This network is open to all NHC members working in the fields of shared ownership and leasehold. With input from Ward Hadaway, meetings cover day-to-day challenges around service charges, compliance, tenancy agreement, marketing information, administrative charges and arrears.

Email us to sign up to any of the networks above.

 

Take a look at our upcoming events

We are committed to providing you with opportunities to come together online so we can collectively support each other during this period. We have already held webinars with the Housing Minister, the CEO of the Regulator of Social Housing and the Housing Ombudsman among others. We have been busy planning some further events for different staff groups across the membership over the next few months which you can read about below. The best way to keep up-to-date is to subscribe to our newsletter.  A full listing is also available at www.myNHC.org.uk.

 

Making Local Links – Social Housing and the voluntary sector during Covid-19 – 7th May

With support from HACT and the Centre for Excellence in Community Investment, the NHC is bringing members together to discuss how they’re supporting their communities by collaborating and offering a leadership role to the new Mutual Aid Groups and Community Hubs offering their assistance across the region.

The meeting takes place on 7th May, 10.00 – 12.00 online via Microsoft Teams, for more information and to book click here.

 

Calls for urgent inquiry into why BME communities suffer disproportionately from Covid-19 – 12th May

Writing in the Yorkshire Evening Post, Ali Akbor, Chief Executive of Unity Homes has called for the announced inquiry into why individuals of BME origin appear to be disproportionately affected by coronavirus to “proceed without delay”, noting it was important to “learn lessons and act now” rather than wait until the Covid-19 threat had reduced.

Ali, also the secretary of the BME National network of housing associations in England, will present at the forthcoming NHC online roundtable ‘Supporting BAME and multi-cultural neighbourhoods during Covid-19’ alongside Shahda Khan, Strategic Cohesion and Migration Manager at Middlesbrough Council.

The online roundtable is free for NHC members and will take place Tuesday 12th May, 10.00 – 12.00. For more information and to book your place, click here.

 

Housing’s role in the North’s recovery – 14th May

The emergency response to Covid-19 has brought out the very best in the North as NHC members have worked hand in hand to ensure that our communities are protected and supported. But with attention starting to turn towards thinking about ‘recovery’, and with a likely recession on the horizon, councils, housing associations and ALMOs in the North will need a strong collective voice on the role that housing can play.

The NHC is holding a member-only webinar on the economic and social response to Covid-19 and would like to hear your views. Chaired by Tracy Harrison, Chief Executive of the Northern Housing Consortium with key involvement from Mike Palin, Managing Director of GC Consulting, and former CEO of St Helens Council, attendees will be presented with potential economic scenarios and possible responses.

With your involvement, the NHC aims to develop well-informed asks and offers to government on the role the North’s housing sector can play in the country’s economic recovery.

Please join us and be part of the conversation. Register here.

 

Resident Involvement Conference 2020 – 3rd June

Social Distancing and life in lockdown have given us pause for thought on the important role tenants play in their organisations. Many in the social housing sector now see an opportunity to bring tenants closer together and hear what they want from ‘the new normal’.

Even before the current public health crisis, the anticipated Social Housing White Paper meant many landlords were making a head start in bringing forward innovative ways of working with residents – enhancing effectiveness, transparency, and accountability.

Adapted into two online webinars, the National Resident Involvement Conference is the place to hear from government policy shapers and social housing providers leading these changes.

Find out more.

 

Health and Building Safety conference – 11th June

Even with the competing pressures of recent months, building safety remains at the forefront of the sector’s mind.

With the Government committed to delivering the most significant package of building safety reforms for a generation, the NHC invites you to our fifth annual Health and Building Safety in Housing Conference will run on 11th June 2020.

This must-attend Webinar for Health and Building Safety professionals will focus on managing risk, bringing about culture change to put Health and Safety at the heart of the business and provide updates from the Regulator and other sector experts.

 Book your place.

 

Northern Housing Summit 2020 – #OurNorth Rising to the challenges – 3rd November

Our sector and our country are rising to the challenge of the Covid-19 crisis.  Once this passes, we will face the serious and growing risk of climate change, and the challenge of playing our part in reaching net-zero.

The North’s housing sector has never flinched from a challenge; and as anchor institutions, the role of housing associations, ALMOs and local authorities will be critical in dealing with the immediate challenge our communities and the economy face from Covid-19; and the longer-term decarbonisation opportunities that lie ahead.

Whatever stage we find ourselves at by November, this year’s Summit will address the latest challenges and will help the North’s housing sector prepare for the future, bringing members and industry experts together.

Like last year, every full member organisation receives one free place at this flagship event – book yours now.

 

To register your interest in any of the above events please visit our member portal here.

 

 

Unlocking Success Bursary Scheme awards 36 tenants

The first round of funding for the Unlocking Success Bursary Scheme has been awarded to tenants from member organisations across the North. The scheme is funded through the NHC’s Charitable Trust and helps tenants across the North develop learning and skills to support future employment.

The applications received covered a vast array of support requests from course fees, laptops, tools and equipment and driving lessons towards re-training as a long-distance lorry driver, to buying a shed for a tenant with Autism Spectrum Disorder to enable completion of a silversmiths course.

One application was from the wife of an army veteran who, following a long rehabilitation from a head injury, had set up a voluntary organisation providing rapid response support for families in the armed forces offering a helpline, food parcels and even therapy from the qualified mental health team. The bursary will be used to help fund her own study towards a qualification in being able to provide counselling services for the organisation. Another application was from a tenant who was previously homeless who has gained a college course placement to study aviation operations and was only part funded by a government loan.

Another application was from a tenant who had joined his tenants and residents’ association during recovery from a serious accident which had led on to him being elected as an independent councillor in his parish. The tenant was subsequently elected Chair and has also taken on an unpaid Clerk role vacancy, the bursary will be put towards funding the study and books for a Certificate level qualification (CiLCA) which is required in order to be employed as a qualified Clerk/Responsible Finance Officer and support the community in which he lives.

In this round of applications the bursary scheme had originally planned to award 20 bursaries of £500 each, however, given the coronavirus situation making the judging process difficult, it was decided to give the bursary to all of the 36 tenants that met the priority-need criteria and who weren’t receiving any other employer-paid training, but awarded at a slightly lower amount of £300 rather than £500 to make this affordable around the level of the original planned funding.

The deadline for the next round of application submissions is September. You can find out more on the website.

Princes Trust Guest Blog – About our programmes for Young People

At The Princes Trust, we have a great team in the North, committed to working in partnership with a variety of organisations, from local authorities to clinical commissioning groups, police and crime commissioners, colleges and in particular Housing Associations just like yourselves.   We already work in partnership with some Housing Associations like Calico in Lancashire where we ran a ‘Get Into’ programme specifically with their construction company which saw a group of young people undertake work experience, gain their CSCS card to safely work on construction sites in the future, some received FT paid work from the programme with more carrying on into higher education with a renewed vigour and sense of purpose for their career path.

We fully understand the complex needs surrounding young people aged 13-30 who maybe your tenants, young parents themselves or living with their extended families in your housing stock.  We are seeing an increase in reporting of mental health issues, drug & alcohol dependency both from the young people and their parents, food poverty and young people unable to go into school or college or find work and the uncertainty of improvement of their situations any time soon.  We’d like to work with you in partnership to help you support your young people by giving practical help and advice, boosting skills, confidence and getting young people work-ready through our range of programmes, online at the moment but then face to face once lockdown is eased.

If you’d like an informal chat about how we could work together in the future and perhaps help you during this difficult time please contact either Deborah Rowlinson deborah.rowlinson@princes-trust.org.uk for partnerships in Merseyside, Cheshire, Cumbria, Lancashire and Greater Manchester or Deborah Clarke deborah.clarke@princes-trust.org.uk for partnerships in Yorkshire, Humber and the North East.  We are both able to speak to you about national partnerships too should your organisation cover a wider geographical area.

(regional differences may apply in programme length and availability) here’s a selection and for further information on all or programmes please visit www.princes-trust.org.uk

 Get Into” – is for ages 16-30, get into work with top employers such as M&S, HSBC and the NHS, who are ready to hire fresh talent, while improving your CV and interview techniques. Some courses include a trial shift with potential job offers available at the end.

Get Started” – is for ages 16-25, gain careers advice from experts such as Premier League, ASOS and Sony in a week while taking part in a team project that gives you a taste of what you love. A well-deserved celebration ends the week.

Employability Online” – Ages 18-30 – Our online course has the tools to help you get the job you want. From where to start your job search to how to feel confident in an interview, work through our videos, worksheets and quizzes at your own pace.

Team” – is for ages 16-25, it’s about making friends and new exciting connections, you’ve got 12 weeks to gain skills, experience and take on a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ community project to transform your neighbourhood with like-minded people.

Explore” – is for ages 16-25 – Are you looking for an adventure? Try everything from kayaking to high ropes during an action-packed week-long residential, then choose from a range of options to create your own learning plan.

Development Awards” – Are for ages 18-25 – You could receive a grant to cover course fees, equipment or even childcare costs to make your next step into work, education or training even easier.

During these uncertain times we have launched our five-point Youth Action Plan which will ensure young people continue to get the support they need from us during this challenging time, it covers:

  • Wellbeing: Our army of youth workers and volunteers will provide one to one support for young people over the phone and online, helping those who are struggling to cope with isolation and social distancing
  • Education: We will work with teachers to support pupils who are now not in school, as well as those vulnerable young people still attending
  • Employment: We will deliver structured programmes for young people who don’t have a job to help build their confidence and reskill, and we will work with our partners to train young people to start critical jobs in health care and the supply chain
  • Enterprise: We will provide mentors and support for young people who are self-employed and worried about their future
  • Community: Many young people are already responding to the current situation by volunteering in their local areas. We will grow our youth volunteering network to enable more young people to help their communities, responsibly and safely

Recruiting new volunteers to help mentor young people into jobs with the NHS and into retail, we have a contract with the NHS to recruit young people into entry-level positions for a career with the NHS, which is so relevant right now and are appealing for volunteers from sectors affected by furlough or reduced hours.

On our digital employability programmes, our execs work with and support young people with their confidence, CV, application forms and interview skills.  Young people are matched with a mentor who will support in finding the right opportunity through to starting work and settling into a new different environment.

Finally, we know this is a frightening time for young people, we have established a coronavirus section of our website with answers to frequently asked questions, updated as this situation develops.  The website also has a chat function, which is the first step to a young person accessing our services.

Budget 2020 – on-the-day briefing

The Chancellor presented his Budget on March 11th.   Whilst recent events have dwarfed the scale of announcements, it contained some important news for our members.

The NHC produced our usual on-the-day briefing after the Budget earlier this month. There were elements to welcome within the Budget – such as the commitment to extend the Affordable Homes Programme, and overall the budget represented a welcome first step in levelling-up for the North. There is more to come – and we need to see evidence of a commitment to levelling-up when the planning white paper, infrastructure strategy and the comprehensive spending review emerge.

NHC submitted a Budget Representation to HM Treasury in February, which you may have seen was reported on the front page of Inside Housing. Our representation focused on local authority housing and planning capacity, the affordable homes programme and regeneration via decarbonisation.

Post-budget, we are particularly keen to influence the development of the £400m brownfield fund the Chancellor announced on March 11th. We were already engaging with MHCLG officials on this, prior to recent events. If you have thoughts on how this fund should operate, then please do contact Brian Robson.

Whilst our immediate priority is supporting our members through current uncertainty, in the longer-term, the NHC will continue with our influencing activity to ensure that Government’s promise of levelling-up is realised and that housing’s contribution is recognised.

Read the full on-the-day briefing here.

NHC welcomes MHCLG officials to Tees Valley

We were delighted to welcome MHCLG Housing Delivery Director Cathy Francis and members of her team to the Tees Valley on Thursday 12th March.

Cathy and her team undertook a day-long tour, taking in sites of opportunity, challenge and recent success.  This included:

  • The huge SSI industrial site in Redcar, now in the hands of the South Tees Development Corporation, and surrounding residential estates
  • Areas of opportunity in Middlesbrough Town Centre, including the ongoing Middlehaven regeneration project and the challenging Gresham town centre renewal site
  • Successful estate regeneration in Stockton, and town centre sites at various stages of development.

Commenting, NHC Executive Director (Policy and Public Affairs) Brian Robson said

“With a £400m brownfield fund announced at Budget just 24 hours beforehand, this was a really timely visit from Cathy and her team. There’s nothing like seeing sites for yourself, so we were delighted to facilitate it, and in the process deepen our engagement with the Ministry and identify areas where we can support policy development.”

Cathy and team also attended an NHC Influence North engagement event with NHC members from a broader geography.

Huge thanks go to Redcar & Cleveland Council, Beyond Housing, Thirteen Group, North Star, Middlesbrough Council and Stockton-on-Tees Council for supporting the Tees Valley visit.

What have new Northern MPs been talking about in their maiden speeches?

The 2019 General Election returned 140 new MPs to Parliament; of these, 40 represent constituencies in the North of England. Traditionally, new MPs arrive in Westminster and deliver their first speech to the House that gives some personal and constituency background, as well as briefly setting out the issues they aim to confront in the duration of Parliament. This means that we are expected to hear a total of 40 maiden speeches in the coming weeks and months that will give us insight into the aims of these new Northern MPs.

Conservative MPs’ Maiden Speeches

Of the 31 newly-elected Northern Conservative MPs, 15 have so far given their maiden speech in the House of Commons. Here, we take a look at what initial concerns and interests they have discussed as an indicator of what we could expect from them here in the North:

The image above shows that the NHS has so far been one of the biggest concerns of Conservative MPs detailed in their maiden speeches, with most Conservative members celebrating the NHS Funding Bill and committing to improving local health services.

Brexit remains in the lexicon of Northern Conservative MPs, unsurprisingly as many represent constituencies with high leave-voting majorities. It has been typical for them to refer to the “unleashing” of potential that exiting the EU is predicted to establish and it is likely that this will continue in maiden speeches yet to be delivered, especially in relation to the North.

We can also see that other issues such as crime and the police force have been frequently mentioned with many stressing the importance of the police having access to the necessary resources to tackle such things as terrorism-related and organised crime. Concerns about education and young people also seem to be high up on the agenda, with a real focus on social mobility across the group.

More interestingly for NHC members, a commitment to the principles of the Northern Powerhouse and “levelling-up” unites Northern Conservative MPs. A need to rebalance the regions through the spreading of opportunity and investment has been acknowledged, along with the recognition that many areas in the North have been “left-behind”. Most MPs have so far referenced the Government’s programme to level-up communities and their role in this within their constituencies. Transport has been a common theme in this agenda, with many calling for the improvement of rail and bus services as an integral part of levelling-up the country. The renewal of town centres was also outlined by some as another necessary measure, with praise following for the Towns Fund and Future High Streets Fund frameworks.

There has so far been very little on the climate crisis, and even less on housing in the North from this set of MPs. We know that housing can make an important contribution to levelling-up at pace; and that decarbonising the North’s existing housing stock will be vital if we are to achieve the goal of net zero by 2050. This exercise has shown the importance of our sector engaging and working with these new Northern Conservative MPs to show them what councils, housing associations and ALMOs in the North have already achieved and to work with them to deliver on our shared priorities of increasing housing supply and quality in the North.

Labour MPs’ Maiden Speeches

With the party’s presence significantly diminished in the North, only 9 Labour MPs representing Northern constituencies were elected to Parliament for the first time last year. All but one of these first-time Labour MPs have now delivered their maiden speech to the House of Commons. We take a look at what they have been saying:

Immediately, we can see a stark difference of priorities for new Labour members compared to the Conservative group in this Parliament. Outlining the consequences of austerity measures from current and past policy decisions ran through each of these maiden speeches, with continuous reference to cuts to public services in each of the MPs’ constituencies.

Universal Credit has been frequently criticised, with its impact on individuals and families being highlighted in most of these speeches. Unemployment and precarious working arrangements are also high on these MPs’ agendas, as well as the impact of in-work poverty for many of their constituents, notably the rise of the necessity to use food banks.

Homelessness and rough sleeping feature heavily in these speeches. Concerns include the budgets of councils, which Labour MPs believe are unable to deal with the increasing level of people without a home, with links drawn to levels of funding. The majority of Labour MPs who spoke on these issues linked them directly to the lack of quality, affordable homes available to constituents and criticised the Right-to-Buy scheme for having further reduced the stock that councils and housing associations maintain.

The climate crisis has so far been a significant concern of new Northern Labour MPs with some discussing climate changes impacts the North has seen such as recent flooding. With references to a Green Northern Powerhouse, it was suggested that constituencies in the North are well-placed to lead in the move towards low-carbon energy.
The North’s housing sector has an opportunity to bring together those who are calling for more, and better quality, affordable homes with those calling for action on climate change. If we can integrate these arguments, we have a compelling story to tell.

The NHC continues to work with MPs across parties through the APPG for Housing in the North and other engagement activities.

This analysis was prepared by Anna Seddon, Policy and Public Affairs Assistant. For more information, contact Anna Seddon 0191 566 1000