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Opinion: Time to take housing seriously

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Opinion: Time to take housing seriously

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Central Government

Opinion: Time to take housing seriously Opinion: Time to take housing seriously

As Brandon Lewis replaces Kris Hopkins as housing minister after just 10 months in the job, Lindsey Williams, group chief executive at Futures Housing Group, says it’s time for the government to commit to taking housing seriously.

As the government appoints yet another housing minister there is one thing all housing professionals will be hoping: that housing is back at the table and it is there to stay.

It is, of course, extremely positive to see that the brief has rightly been upgraded back to full minister of state level. We can all agree that downgrading it in the last reshuffle was a mistake.

With less than a year to go to the next general election the more cynical of us may fear this latest move is merely an election ploy. One would hope instead that it shows the
Government's recognition of how central housing is to the UK’s socioeconomic infrastructure and signals a genuine intent to put it back onto the agenda in a serious way and restore the vital link between housing and planning.

Like many housing providers, at Futures we are committed to expanding our housing portfolio significantly in coming years to meet an ever-increasing demand. We will look to diversify into different tenures and find new ways to grow key areas of the business, with a particular focus on boosting training and employment opportunities in our communities.

What we need now is a housing minister who gets the sector and a government which recognises the potential that housing providers have to spearhead the nation’s economic recovery.

We need a long-term strategy and policies and initiatives to support the great work we are doing. But we also need recognition that this work now goes way beyond just providing social housing. It is about meeting all kinds of housing need and providing the opportunities and support needed to create sustainable communities and a new generation of aspiring homeowners.

After a number of changes in recent years what the position of housing minister desperately needs is consistency, both in terms of its status within the Government and the holder of the post. We need a commitment from the Government that housing matters and we need a competent and committed representative.

We also need to make sure that as a sector we make clear, consistent and convincing arguments about the need for a long-term strategy on housing.

Ultimately only time will tell if we are any closer to this.

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