On 7th September, the NHC facilitated a members’ roundtable session (hosted by Newcastle City Council) with Jake Berry, Northern Powerhouse Minister, when he visited the North East. The Minister was keen to emphasise his commitment to the devolution agenda and his passion for the role as a Northerner, and talked enthusiastically about the need to build a compelling narrative for the ‘whole North’.
Members’ discussed some of the challenges faced, including inefficient legacy stock, skills shortages, pressures on supported housing, and the need for regeneration to reconnect economically isolated communities. There was recognition of the many untapped market opportunities and the desire and will amongst members to do more if some of the key levers could be put in place – such as longer term funding programmes, rent certainty, and pump-priming for more challenging sites. The Minister acknowledged the need for regeneration and emphasised the combined importance of housing, skills, jobs and transport, describing the potential offered by Transport for the North’s 20-year plan as ‘transformative’.
The Minister also encouraged members to come forward with ideas that would help drive growth in house building, and for suggestions that would address the issue of graduate retention across the North, as well as evidence around the threats posed by changes to funding for supported housing. The NHC is happy to collate any evidence or suggestions that Members wish to put forward to the Minister – please email Senior Policy Adviser Karen Brown: Karen.firstname.lastname@example.org.