Last week we launched House Proud - Devolved, a campaign to highlight the importance of housing in the run-up to May’s elections in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Here we present a whole alphabet of reasons why ignoring housing’s vital role in society is not an option
Anti-social behaviour - the Scottish Government recognises that when it comes to fighting ASB, ‘an effective housing market, including a good supply of affordable housing is key’. Early intervention by housing management staff resolves about 75 per cent of ASB cases, according to the Chartered Institute of Housing.
Better places to live - Welsh housing associations spent more than £256 million on regeneration projects between 2008 and 2009, Scottish associations spent almost £31 million on 879 regeneration schemes between 2003 and 2007 and Northern Irish landlords more than £526 million on new social homes in the past two decades.
Cymru’s contribution - the 70 housing association and community mutual members of Community Housing Cymru provide homes and housing-related services to more than 127,000 households across Wales. Collectively they spent £487 million in the Welsh economy in 2008/09, according to CMC.
Development - councils and housing associations completed 5,077 new homes in Scotland, 883 new homes in Wales and 1,838 new homes in Northern Ireland in 2009/10.
Environment - every £1 spent on energy efficient housing saves £0.42 in health costs, according to Cecodhas.
Finance - Northern Irish associations spent £183 million on new homes in the past three financial years, stretching public resources by 40 per cent - equivalent to 1,252 family homes. In the past year they invested £20 million in maintenance.
Getting the grades - 25 per cent of children living in bad housing gain no GCSEs compared with around 10 per cent not living in bad housing, according to homelessness charity Shelter.
Homeownership - to buy a home in 2009 the average first-time buyer had to borrow 2.85 times their income in Scotland, 2.96 times their income in Wales and 3.26 times their income in Northern Ireland according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders.
Inspirational projects - social landlords in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are leading the way in many fields. To see how it’s done look up the following 2010 UK Housing Award winners: North Lanarkshire Council’s Tasking and Co-ordinating Project, Melin Homes’ ‘Getting connected’ project in south east Wales and Apex Housing’s Travellers’ housing in Belfast.
Jobs - Welsh housing associations employed 4,100 people directly and a further 10,440 indirectly between 2008 and 2009.
Keeping one step ahead - preventing one 16 to 18-year-old from becoming homeless saves £1,467 from the average council’s temporary accommodation budget.*
Law and order - the Northern Ireland Housing Executive leads the country’s partnership to prevent re-offending, saving the taxpayer around £80,000 for every 18 to 21-year-old it helps stay out of prison.
Money matters - as cuts bite, landlords are helping vulnerable residents avoid the lure of loan sharks and doorstep lenders. For example Wales and West Housing Association employs two money advice officers, dedicated to helping the landlords’ 25,000 residents make sound financial choices.
Northern Ireland - social housing here is particularly vulnerable to government cuts. According to the UK Housing Review 2009/10, the sector’s share of state spending - almost 7 per cent - is higher than in anywhere in the UK.
Overcrowding - spending just £1 tackling overcrowding in every 100,000 homes where it is likely to cause health problems saves the NHS more than six times as much over
10 years, according to the Housing Health & Safety Rating System.
Pushing at an open door - ‘As well as improving our day-to-day quality of life, good housing is integral to achieving our overall purpose of increasing sustainable economic growth to provide opportunities for all to flourish,’ says the Scottish Government.
Quitting is not an option - £158 million has been slashed from the collective housing budgets of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland (£31 million, £57 million and £70 million respectively). Add to this forthcoming UK-wide welfare cuts, and it’s clear housing’s innovators cannot afford to take a backseat.
Rural communities - these suffer disproportionately high development costs. Scottish charity the Rural Housing Trust has helped more than 150 communities throughout the country address their housing needs since the 1980s. Meanwhile in Wales, 10 rural housing experts act as independent advisors to organisations including housing associations and local authorities, community councils and national parks to facilitate new affordable homes in the countryside.
Shared neighbourhoods - 90 per cent of Northern Ireland’s estates were segregated by the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. Since 2008, 60,000 people living on 30 estates have signed up to the Department for Social Development-led neighbourhoods programme to bring communities together.
Top rated - existing homes contribute around 27 per cent of UK carbon emissions. Cartrefi Conwy, a housing association in north Wales, is among the housing providers spearheading the fight against global warming. It’s part of Connect-in Housing, an exemplar partnership which recycled 99 per cent of site waste during renovation work on its 3,800 homes, clinching it the Waste Initiative title at the 2010 Sustainable Housing Awards.
Unlocking potential - almost two thirds of Scottish associations plan to start promoting social enterprise, up from more than half currently, according to Scottish Federation of Housing Associations research. And around three quarters of Scottish regeneration specialists reckon the sector has a future role in fostering these activities.
Vulnerable people - Research by consultants Tribal and Matrix suggests the Supporting People programme, which helps vulnerable groups with housing, produced monetary benefits of £441 million in Scotland and £450 million in Wales in a single year.
World leading - Scotland’s ambition to end unintentional homelessness by 2012 has won international praise. More than a quarter of the country’s housing association homes were let to homeless households last year.
X factor - many housing providers have an exemplary track record of spotting talent and promoting opportunity for disadvantaged groups. For example, in the last full financial year PATH (Scotland) secured training or jobs for 25 black and minority ethnic people in Scotland.
Young people - those wanting to buy a home face huge financial barriers. The average price for first time buyers was up 87 per cent in Northern Ireland, 106 per cent in Wales and 119 per cent in Scotland in the past decade, according to Halifax.
Zzzzzzzz - councils and housing associations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland provide 950,000 permanent homes. That’s a lot of people with a place to sleep soundly at night.
Sources: Cecodhas, Chartered Institute of Housing, Community Housing Cymru, Housing Health and Safety Rating System, Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations, Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, Scottish Government, Scottish Housing Regulator, University of Hull, University of York
* based on one rough sleeper presenting homeless
Wherever you are in the UK here’s how you can do your bit to ensure housing gets the hearing it deserves as we head towards election day: