14 Housing Associations call for action to tackle homes crisis in Merseyside and Cheshire

The bosses of 14 housing associations are calling on politicians vying to become Merseyside and Cheshire’s next MPs to help tackle the housing crisis.

Across Liverpool, Sefton, Knowsley, Wirral, Halton and St Helens, the associations built more than 1,000 new homes between them in 2013/14; brought at least 200 empty homes back into use; and invested more than £231million in improving existing properties. They also supported more than 3,000 tenants into work and training.

But they say that with action from Merseyside and Cheshire’s prospective parliamentary candidates, they could do much more to tackle the housing crisis, which sees demand for homes outstrip supply nationally and locally.

In a joint report – Homes for Merseyside & Cheshire – the landlords warn that a quality home is still beyond the reach of many people because more new properties need to be built in the right areas; more empty homes need to be brought back into use; and action is needed to create jobs and boost regeneration.

At the same time, average salaries fall way short of house prices and unemployment in the area is above the English average, the report says.

The housing associations – who together provide thousands of homes in Merseyside and Cheshire – are sending the report to parliamentary candidates, asking them to:

  • Meet them to discuss how they can work together to tackle the housing crisis
  • Urge the next Government to detail, within a year of taking office, how it will address the crisis
  • Raise issues highlighted in the report across Merseyside and Cheshire so that the crisis is on the agenda of policy-makers.

Phil Gandy, Chief Executive of Symphony Housing Group – one of the organisations behind the new report – said, “Housing associations are making big investments in local economies by building new homes, improving existing properties, bringing empty ones back into use and supporting residents into work.

“However, by working more closely with parliamentary candidates and politicians, we believe we can achieve much more to help overcome the crisis and support economic growth for Merseyside and Cheshire.

“The next Government needs to quickly outline how it will address the crisis and we’re asking candidates to pledge their commitment to push for this within 12 months of the election.”

The Merseyside and Cheshire report has been produced in support of the national Homes for Britain campaign, which is calling on the next Government to come up with a long-term plan to tackle the housing crisis within a year of taking office.

The National Housing Federation recently found that over the next 20 years in the North West alone there will be 360,000 new households, all of whom will need homes. However, at current building rates, more than 195,000 will have nowhere to live.

And in Liverpool, Federation figures show that people face paying more than five times the average income to own a home, while unemployment is way above the English average.

Katie Teasdale, North West External Affairs Manager at the National Housing Federation, which represents housing associations, added, “We can see evidence of the housing crisis all over the country, and unfortunately Merseyside is no exception. In some places spiralling costs have put homes out of reach of many workers and families, while in other places we see communities that are struggling, in desperate need of jobs and regeneration.

“As this report shows, the region’s housing associations have taken real steps forward in tackling these issues. What we need to see from the next Government is a commitment to end the housing crisis within a generation and to publishing a long term plan within a year of taking office detailing how they will do this.”

The joint report has been produced by social landlords under the banner of Merseyside Housing Associations Working Together. They are: Halton Housing Trust, Helena Partnerships, Knowsley Housing Trust (KHT), Liverpool Mutual Homes, Magenta Living, Plus Dane, Regenda Group, Riverside, South Liverpool Homes, Sovini Group (One Vision Housing and Pine Court Housing Association), and Symphony Housing Group (BBCHA, Cobalt Housing and Liverpool Housing Trust).