It was a long day for a delegation from Wales led by Community Housing Cymru and the Chartered Institute of Housing Cymru including staff, board members and tenants who converged on London to meet Welsh MPs in Westminster at a reception hosted by David TC Davies, the Conservative MP for Monmouthshire, before making the short walk across College Green to attend the biggest housing rally in a generation.
It was a productive meeting with 20 MPs from across Wales who were given the opportunity to hear first hand the housing association success story in Wales and, in particular, the more than bricks and mortar message. It also gave us the opportunity to spell out how they can enable us to deliver even more for their constituencies. MPs were particularly interested to learn that Wales will not have the same flexibility afforded to Scotland and Northern Ireland to enable the housing element of Universal Credit to continue to be paid direct to landlords, and the impact that this potentially has on tenants and housing associations. We will be following this up with all parties ahead of the General Election.
As for the rally, there was a huge buzz around the venue and Westminster as rally attendees converged from right across the country.
2,300 people, a packed Methodist Central Hall in Westminster, and possibly the most eclectic selection of speakers gathered on the same platform. From Nigel Farage to Ken Loach to Grant Shapps to Owen Jones and Frances O’Grady, leader of the TUC, speakers from across the political spectrum pledged their support to the Homes for Britain campaign and committed to end the housing crisis within a generation.
The event attracted significant media attention and had huge social media impact both in the run-up, during and after the event. As an exercise designed to amplify the message of the housing crisis before the short election campaign, it was undoubtedly a success. Perhaps more significantly, the consensus amongst the housing associations involved is that for the first time in decades, the sector feels and is behaving like a movement again.
Homes for Britain has offered the opportunity to raise the profile of housing issues across the UK. Our main focus now, with housing devolved to Welsh Government is our own Assembly Elections in May 2016. We are already talking with potential partners about how we can translate some of the successes of Homes for Britain into a vehicle to campaign for housing to feature prominently as an election issue in Wales.
Housing has found its voice across the UK and our challenge now is to build on this success, amplify our voice right across Wales and ensure that housing is a key election issue being discussed on the doorstep by our politicians and members of the public in 12 months time.
Are you ready for the challenge?
CHC Group Chief Executive
CHC Group Chief Executive
You can view the rest of the photos from the day in our Facebook album.