Council chiefs claim Birmingham can lead the way in tackling the UK’s housing crisis

Birmingham has the ability to lead the nation in tackling the housing crisis, council bosses have claimed.

A Government white paper published earlier this year vowed to revitalise the property market across the UK by giving more power to local authorities to persuade developers to build on land they own.

The report also said 250,000 new homes were needed each year to meet demand.

A document – Building Great Homes, Creating Great Places – has been drawn up by Birmingham City Council to outline how it intends to tackle the issues locally.

Cllr John Clancy

Cllr John Clancy

The report, signed by leader Cllr John Clancy and Cabinet member for housing Cllr Peter Griffiths, says the local authority wants to take inspiration from one of its most famous civic leaders.

“Birmingham’s radical 19th Century mayor Joseph Chamberlain began clearing the city’s slums in 1874, demonstrating that local government could make a positive difference to people’s lives,” the document explains. “Chamberlain understood that poor housing is an economic as well as a social issue.

“Families living in warm, decent homes tend to be healthier, happier, better educated and have better jobs, high wages and brighter prospects.

“Joseph Chamberlain’s vision is as true today as it was in Victorian times. Birmingham City Council is proud to follow in the footsteps of Joseph Chamberlain.”

The report reveals that The Birmingham Municipal Housing Trust has already created 2,350 new homes since 2009 and has a further 800 under construction.

But it admitted the scale of the challenge facing local authorities could not be underestimated.

“The challenge today is every bit as stark as that in 1874,” the report added. “Some 89,000 new homes are needed to meet growth in jobs and households in the city by 2031 and this will require positive partnership working in the West Midlands by councils, the regional mayor and combined authority, the private house building sector and the Government.

“But we also need homes that are affordable for the whole population, so we must provide more social housing. In doing so, we want to be bold and to rethink social housing for the modern age.

“Above all we want to create great neighbourhoods not just great homes. We will not fail to innovate and meet the challenge. As Chamberlain did 143 years ago, we will do in 2017.”

To tackle the issues, the council has drawn up a six-point plan of action:

  • Work collaboratively with our neighbours to support housing delivery.
  • Enable the private sector to build more homes.
  • Maximise the capacity of the council to directly deliver new homes.
  • Eradicate homelessness.
  • Agree a new vision for social housing with tenants.
  • Agree a regional housing deal with the Government.

The report continues: “Providing people with better, more secure and more affordable homes is a big priority for Birmingham. We are ready to work with anyone and to do things very differently to achieve that aim.

“We have the heritage, track record and ambition needed to lead the nation in tackling our housing crisis.

“In partnership with Government and the private sector we aim to secure the funding and the powers we need to make a truly historic difference to housing in our city. In doing so we will develop innovative solutions that can be applied across the country.”

The new document will be discussed at an overview and scrutiny committee meeting at Birmingham City Council on Tuesday (July 25th).

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