General Election: Wrekin chief executive calls on new government to end the housing crisis

I’m Wayne Gethings, chief executive of The Wrekin Housing Group, which has 13,000 properties across Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin, and Staffordshire.

Today, on Keir Starmer’s first day as our Prime Minister, I’m calling on him and his new Labour government to work with housing associations like Wrekin to end the housing crisis.

We provide secure, safe, good-quality homes to 28,000 local people, and I wish I could say that we are able to help everyone who needs it – but sadly that is not the case.

There are currently 8.5 million people across England alone who can’t access the housing they need, with 112,000 households in the West Midlands on council waiting lists – the highest figure we’ve seen in 10 years.

A continuation of the short-term, disjointed approach we have seen to housing issues in recent years is not going to cut it.

That’s why we’re backing the National Housing Federation’s campaign for a long-term #PlanForHousing, and calling on the new government to commit to a bold strategy taking us through the next Parliament and beyond.

We know that suitable housing improves health outcomes, builds resilient communities and strengthens local economies, but it has disappointingly not been a key issue during this election campaign.

However, Labour’s manifesto – which has now received the endorsement of the public at the polling booth – included a clear commitment to build 1.5 million homes in the next five years, and, crucially, to support councils and housing associations by increasing our capacity, to ensure delivery of enough affordable and social homes. We await the detail of what exactly this will look like.

Over the last few weeks we have met with a number of local candidates, including Shaun Davies in Telford, Julia Buckley in Shrewsbury and Adam Jogee in Newcastle-Under-Lyme, all of whom are now elected. We’ve had encouraging conversations with them about the scale of the problem and what their new government needs to do about it.

We look forward to building on these discussions, and will be inviting all our new and returning MPs to visit us over the coming weeks and months.

We now need to ensure the party’s leadership is in no doubt that housing will be a defining issue of the next Parliament, and the dire situation millions more families will be in if they fail to deliver.

Housing associations will play a vital part in any long-term plan to end this crisis, and we stand ready and willing to do our bit. My message to Sir Keir is this – help us help you.

Give us a long-term rent settlement, that provides us with certainty over our income while being fair to our tenants. A 10-year settlement will allow Wrekin to deliver 2,500 new homes.

Give us flexible grants to allow us to deliver the vital regeneration schemes our towns and villages need.

Give us investment to help us decarbonise our homes, reduce emissions and cut our customers’ energy bills.

Give us a planning system that says ‘yes’ to new housing where it is most needed, and ensures that all new developments contribute an adequate number of social and affordable homes.

Before the election, Labour promised to deliver the biggest boost in social and affordable housing in a generation. Only a long-term plan will achieve this.

5th July 2024