As election fever starts to grip the nation’s politicians and parties gear up to fight for votes in May 2015, the National Federation of ALMOs (NFA) has published its 2015 Election Manifesto, bringing together its ideas for building more homes, improving neighbourhoods and supporting communities in this tough economic and financial climate.
Housing is one of the key election issues for many people across the country, with recent polling showing that 80% of the British public agree that “there is a housing crisis in Britain” and 78% of MPs reporting receiving more contact from constituents about housing than a range of other subjects.
It is in this context that we believe ALMOs can make a real difference to people’s lives. Alongside calling for the next Government to allow councils and ALMOs to build at least 60,000 new affordable homes over five years, we are also asking that all political parties realise the potential of the ALMO model to assist local authorities in dealing with a wider range of housing and social issues.
Increasing numbers of families are using the private rented sector to meet their housing needs. The NFA would like to see ALMOs being used more widely to help improve standards of both accommodation and management in key parts of that sector. Some ALMOs have already started to provide services to the private rented sector and we want the next Government to incentivise landlords to improve their offer to tenants and provide high quality housing management services and longer term tenancies.
The NFA also wants to see a review of some elements of recent welfare reform and more support and resources to help prepare tenants properly for the roll out of Universal Credit.
Most ALMOs are already funding financial inclusion work and providing training and employment opportunities for tenants. The NFA believes that ALMOs are well placed to provide tailored support packages for jobless people in the communities that they know and serve.
An ageing population is placing more demand on care and support services and we believe that ALMOs could provide more supported housing which would help to ease the pressure on adult social care and NHS budgets. To that end the NFA is calling for more joining up of the health and housing budgets and for housing to be made a statutory partner on health and wellbeing boards.
We will be urging all political parties to consider the NFA 2015 Election Manifesto and commit to supporting its recommendations. We would also urge local government colleagues to work with us to promote our common messages at both a local and a national level to ensure housing gets the political recognition and the resources it needs come 2015.
Chloe Fletcher is policy director of the National Federation of ALMOs.