Earlier in the summer the Northern Housing Consortium initiated a Commission for Housing in the North to reflect the frequently expressed views I hear from NHC members that the varied housing markets and conditions seen across the north need locally crafted solutions.
The need for the Commission was evident at its conception and if anything that need is even more pressing now as we digest the impact of the summer budget and prepare for the forthcoming Housing Bill, the progress towards devolution, and of course the Spending Review.
I’m delighted that we have secured a range of immensely talented people to join the Commission – each of whom brings significant expertise, creativity and most importantly a passion for the north. I’ve no doubt the eventual findings of the Commission will be hugely enhanced by their diverse but complementary skills. You can find out more about our Commissioners here.
The role for the Commission is to gain and disseminate a better understanding of the issues facing housing in the north and propose areas for possible improvement, including how housing can support economic growth and productivity, how housing can better support aspiration, develop solutions to some of the complex problems preventing appropriate supply, and deliver better conditions in the private rented sector.
To set the context for the Commissioners and ensure the Commission delivers impact and relevance, the NHC invited members across the north to a series of start-up meetings to hear from them what they consider to be the priority issues for the Commission. It was really invigorating to hear from so many members about how they are setting about reacting to the rapidly changing operating environment, all of the discussions were characterised by a real sense of innovation, of determination and a resilience and commitment to bring about positive change for their communities. They warmly welcomed the Commission and I’m looking forward to their contributions as the Commission progresses. There were some common themes emerging from these start up meetings – including recognition of the role of good quality housing in supporting economic growth, the need to provide a simple, strong narrative about the contribution that housing makes to the north, and that devolution presents a tremendous opportunity to pull the many strands of housing work together under one economic aim, and a view that Commission is well placed to spearhead this debate. Further details of the start-up meetings can be found on the commission website.
At their first introductory meeting last week the Commissioners spent a long time considering and exploring the information from the start up meetings. We will now be collating the priority areas from that meeting and assembling background information for the Commissions to refine the scope of their work at the next meeting. After that we will be holding further engagement sessions with our members and wider stakeholders to ensure the work of the Commission will be of value and have real impact for housing in the north. The Commission intends to report in the spring and I look forward to updating this blog with further news.