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Conference to ask: Why isn't housing a big political issue?

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Conference to ask: Why isn't housing a big political issue?

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

Conference to ask: Why isn't housing a big political issue? Conference to ask: Why isn't housing a big political issue?

Image: Housing via Shutterstock

The UK and Ireland’s leading housing professionals are set to gather in Glasgow next month to examine why social housing has failed to secure a place in the heart of government.

Conference chair Professor Paddy Gray said the Conference of the Isles will debate why social housing - despite its huge importance in terms of social and economic value - is a “poor relation” in terms of political priorities and “simply a footnote” in parties’ manifestoes.

Speakers will include Steve Stride, chief executive of social landlord Poplar HARCA and current president of the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH); Grainia Long, chief executive of the CIH; Dr Mary Taylor and Cameron Watt, chief executives respectively of the Scottish and Northern Ireland Federations of Housing Associations; and Kathleen McKillion, head of development at the Irish Council for Social Housing.

To be held just over two weeks before the Scottish referendum and eight months before the next UK general election, the event is being hosted by Wheatley Group, Scotland’s largest housing, care and community regeneration organisation.

Chief executive Martin Armstrong said: “These are momentous times for affordable housing and it is vital we come together, as a sector, to debate the challenges we face and the solutions we need to deliver.”

Other speakers at the conference will include John Connor, chief executive of the Housing Agency Republic of Ireland; Peter Walls, chief executive of Gentoo; Ken Gibb, Professor in Housing Economics (Urban Studies) at The University of Glasgow; and regular 24dash contributor Alastair McIntosh, chief executive of the Housing Quality Network.

Professor Gray added: “At this crucial time in the history of the United Kingdom, with the Scottish referendum looming and a UK election around the corner, it is vital we push social housing up the political ladder to ensure we are properly represented at the highest end of the electoral spectrum.

“Too often, politicians talk a good game about affordable housing, but stubbornly refuse to give it the political priority it so clearly deserves.

“This conference aims to bring our sector together to push the cause for social housing and to ensure it is more, much more than simply a footnote on parties’ manifestoes. We are determined to send a signal that we are no longer prepared to be a poor relation in terms of government funding and political priorities and focus.”

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