Leazes Homes echoes calls to make housing central part of “Northern Powerhouse” agenda
Newcastle-based affordable housing provider, Leazes Homes, has echoed a plea from Homes for the North for the government to make housing central to the Northern Powerhouse project, with policies tailored towards solving problems specific to the region.
Chair of Leazes Homes, Bill Midgley, invited the Housing Minister, Brandon Lewis, to the region in December 2014, with a view to helping him to understand the particular problems faced by the North East and to address the failings of successive London-centric policies to deal with them.
Bill Midgley said: “I wanted the housing minister to visit our region and see for himself the issues we face, which are not the same as those faced by the south. We have a very specific situation here in the North East and successive London-centric policies have failed to acknowledge this over recent years.
Chair of Leazes Homes, Bill Midgley
“We need the ability to build more houses to respond to changes in our population and we also need to consider that our population is ageing and facilities more attuned to these needs must be factored in.”
However, Mr Midgley also recognises that progress is being made, with Leazes Homes continuing to roll out an ambitious three year new build programme made possible by Homes and Communities Agency funding.
Mr Midgley continues: “I agree with Homes for the North that housing must play an integral part in the government’s plans for the so-called Northern Powerhouse and obviously there are areas in the region that need significant redevelopment. Graduate retention is also very important and we must create a thriving region that is attractive to a whole range of people.
“But I think it’s equally important that we remember the most vulnerable people in our society if we are to truly display great strength. Those who may never be able to afford their own private home, those who cannot live independently and those whose needs are so complex that the prospect of building properties to suit them is not attractive to the private sector must not be overlooked.
“The National Housing Federation recently reported that housing associations across the country are scrapping, or at least delaying, plans to build new sheltered accommodation as a result of reductions in housing benefit. Leazes Homes remains resolute that this kind of accommodation is absolutely vital and believes that we, as a region, should commit to prioritising resources to help those who need it most.
Trevelyan Court, Leazes Homes’ extra care accommodation in Newbiggin Hall
“In times of austerity, we must focus on those who are most in need to ensure they are not further subjected to negative impacts and we must also accept our own responsibilities in relation to this. Leazes Homes has a strong track record of working in partnership with the private sector to create high quality supported accommodation in Newcastle and our brand new extra care facilities in Newbiggin Hall and Kenton will soon be joined by another in Byker.
“We will continue to focus our attention on supporting vulnerable groups and would welcome conversations with colleagues in the private sector who share our vision for creating a region that gives the same credence to people as it does power.”