A group of 10 Conservative MPs have called for a move from a policy of ‘housing first’ to one of ‘prevention first’ that would see more funding go to services aimed at preventing homelessness.
In an essay collection published by the think tank Localis entitled ‘Valuing Housing, Improving lives’, the MPs attempt to rethink the social and economic role of housing over the next decade.
They focus on how housing policy and the planning system could be directed to supporting the most vulnerable, provide more opportunity and prosperity, and build beautiful homes supported by the right infrastructure.
Among the proposals are a ‘preservation of life’ Act to tackle rough sleeping and the recommendation of offering more support to victims of domestic abuse. They also call for more spending allocated for frontline and preventative services.
The authors, all of whom were elected in 2019, argue for a green belt levy with additional funding directed at brownfield sites in cities and towns to make up for shortfalls in urban areas.
They also recommend that strategic planning be ‘powered up’ through integrated spatial and infrastructure modelling that is directed by community engagement.
Coastal and post-industrial areas should also receive greater support for economic and social regeneration and brownfield land should be brought back into use, they argue.
‘Housing has a fundamental social and economic role. It is a cornerstone of the safety net of the welfare state,’ said Natalie Elphicke MP.
‘It provides the ladders of opportunity and prosperity. Providing homes and supportive services is about so much more than bricks and mortar, it is about building the very fabric of successful and sustainable communities and supporting lives.’
Commenting on the essay collection, the chief executive of Localis, Jonathan Werran, said: ‘This paper rightly sets out considered proposals which prove how housing remains the single most emotive domestic political issue of our time - striking as it does at our sense of belonging of identity - as both an individual and as part of a wider community.
‘These answers to local housing are inherently capable of being unlocked within the individual contexts of people and place, and will need a multi-layered and differentiating approach. An approach where local leadership and solutions can be supported and co-ordinated in line with national ambitions.’