Congratulations Sir Mark Boleat
It is with great pleasure we can announce that the HFi’s Chairman, Mark Boleat, has become Sir Mark Boleat. He was knighted in the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2017 for his contribution to the financial services industry and to local government in London.
Sir Mark was instrumental in the founding of the HFi, and the HFi team owe him a debt of gratitude for all the hard work he has done.
In addition to his role at the HFi, Sir Mark is also a member of the Court of Common Council of the City of London where he holds the role of Deputy Chairman of the Policy and Resources Committee, having been Chairman for a full term. And has been instrumental in working to secure the future of the City of London post Brexit.
Sir Mark is a high achiever having led insurers, mortgage lenders, trade associations and building societies.
We are hugely privileged to have him at the HFi and congratulate him on this well deserved recognition.
Repair, Protect and Build
Over the past fortnight, housing has dominated the news bulletins because of the devastating fire at Grenfell Tower. At the time of writing, 80 people have been confirmed dead, with that number expected to rise. This makes Grenfell the deadliest fire on mainland Britain since detailed records began in 1900.
What has become clear over the past fortnight is the strength of public feeling. This is not confined to those directly affected, but shared amongst our society as a whole. It is not enough to solely offer condolences, we must also make sure a tragedy like this never happens again.
On Tuesday, the HFi released a new report about what comes next for UK housing after the tragedy at Grenfell Tower. The report received national media coverage, including in the Evening Standard and other trade journals. You can download ‘Repair, Protect, Build’ by clicking here.
The report contains a three-pronged approach – to repair, protect and build. We must repair at-risk buildings. We must protect the public by implementing a moratorium on new-build tower blocks until the causes of Grenfell are found. And whilst doing this, we must continue to meet our target of building one million new homes.
You can find out more about the report by reading our Chief Executive, Natalie Elphicke’s fantastic article in yesterday’s Times Red Box.
Alok Sharma Appointed as Housing Minister
We have been treated to many political surprises over the last 12 months, and the General Election on the 8th June was no exception. The Conservatives failed to win an overall majority, culminating in the Housing Minister, Gavin Barwell, losing his seat of Croydon Central and being appointed the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff.
On June 15th, this vacancy was filled. Our new Minister of State for Housing & Planning is Alok Sharma. This makes him the sixth housing minister since 2010.
Alok is the 49-year-old Conservative MP for Reading West. The Indian-born, Reading-raised MP was elected in 2010. Before his appointment as Housing Minister, he was the Minister for Asia and the Pacific.
Previously, he had been a member of the Commons Treasury select committee, the Commons Science and Technology select committee, a Parliamentary Private Secretary at the Treasury and as a Conservative Party Vice Chairman. Also, he has served as the Prime Minister’s Infrastructure Envoy to India, and been a Parliamentary Private Secretary to Oliver Letwin MP, the former Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.
Before entering politics, he qualified as a chartered accountant with Coopers & Lybrand Deloitte, and worked for 16 years within banking, first with Nikko Securities and then with Enskilda Securities.
He is a big believer in government backed infrastructure projects, campaigning to improve railway infrastructure in his constituency.
The HFi at the CIH Conference
This week many of you will have attended the CIH Conference in Manchester, which is, as always, an opportunity to bring together housing associations, local authorities, housebuilders, funders, contractors and advisors.
The HFi spoke at a Trowers & Hamlins event about local authorities and their role in delivering new supply. As well as a Laing O’Rourke event discussing the delivery of the policy objectives of the new government, chaired by Emma Maier, editor of Inside Housing.
We detailed some of our achievements over the past two years and our role in aiding housing delivery, but there is still a long way to go. Councils have a unique role in housing, collaborating with others and articulating how new homes will benefit their communities.
‘We want to work together to build the homes we need. Everyone has a part to play’
Mole Valley Joins the Housing Business Ready Programme
In our last newsletter, we spoke about our summer cohort of Housing Business Ready councils. Hot on the heels of the General Election, we met with Mole Valley District Council to discuss practical actions to accelerate housing delivery.
Mole Valley, located in Surrey, is a beautiful rural area with plenty to offer. High levels of employment, high wages and a great quality of life, who wouldn’t want to live there?
As a result, there is significant demand for affordable and market housing in Mole Valley, and the council is looking for practical solutions to meet this demand.
We at the HFi are delighted to partner up with councils to make sure we build more high-quality homes across all tenures for generations to come.
The HFi At the National Infrastructure Forum
As many of you will know, on June 13th, the National Infrastructure Forum was held at East London’s ExCel Centre. The event covered the key areas critical to Britain’s infrastructure needs.
The HFi’s Brian Horton and Natalie Elphicke gave a well-received presentation at the forum. They drew on many of the findings of the HFi’s Housing Infrastructure Pilot, explaining that if there are more homes to be built faster, there needs to be faster infrastructure as well.
Natalie dispelled the myth that housebuilding is in a trough, because the data says the very opposite. Housebuilding is performing very strongly, with 2016/17 being the fifth best year in 27 years in terms of housebuilding. Yes, the financial crisis caused difficulties, but the country has recovered. The sectors are in a good position to drive forward the million homes the country needs.
We argued that many of the solutions to infrastructure issues are practical business ones. More in our report which is to be published shortly.
The HFi also recognises that all infrastructure is important, but certain types of infrastructure ought to be prioritised. In particular, Housing Delivery Essential Infrastructure, which is the infrastructure all homes require for delivery, such as electricity, water, sewerage, roads and broadband.