Plans for every resident in Greater Manchester to have access to a safe, decent and affordable home sit at the heart of an ambitious Greater Manchester Housing Strategy that is to go before Leaders at this month’s Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) meeting.
The strategy – the first since the election of the Mayor of Greater Manchester two years ago – builds upon Greater Manchester’s Housing Vision, launched in January. Its central aim, to ensure that the housing crisis is addressed by meeting the needs and aspirations of current and future citizens, rests on a ground-breaking collaboration between the public, private, community, voluntary and social enterprise sectors across the city-region.
A key pillar of the strategy is a commitment to deliver at least 50,000 additional truly affordable homes by 2037, 30,000 of which will be social or affordable rent, by working in partnership with housing providers, local authorities, Homes England and government to maximise investment in new social housing.
The Strategy also commits to the introduction of a Greater Manchester-wide Good Landlord Scheme, to be developed by working in partnership with landlords, tenants and others. Our aim is that landlords will be accredited as a GM Good Landlord if they maintain their properties to a decent, safe standard and treat residents fairly when it comes to rents, deposits, length of tenancies and evictions.
Steps have already been taken by the GMCA to tackle poor housing stock in the city-region by investing surpluses from the GM Housing Investment Loans Fund (GMHILF) and prioritising residential regeneration of urban centres in each of the 10 boroughs through the Town Centre Challenge.
The environmental agenda also has a crucial role to play with the residential sector to make an important contribution to Greater Manchester’s bold pledge to become a carbon neutral city-region by 2038.
A further commitment for every new build in the city-region to be zero carbon by 2028 further demonstrates the Green agenda is at the heart of the proposals, alongside the presumption of building on brownfield-first sites as highlighted in Greater Manchester’s draft plan for Homes, Jobs and the Environment.
The Strategy also focuses on the link between housing and social issues such as health and ageing, following intensive working with partners at Greater Manchester’s Health and Social Care Partnership. Proposals include a new ‘Healthy Homes Service’ to help support vulnerable people live safely and independently in their own homes, and a more strategic approach to the provision of high quality supported housing across the city region.
Paul Dennett, the GMCA Lead on Housing, said: “The housing crisis takes many forms, and the challenges we face in Greater Manchester need solutions that work for our communities and residents. In drafting a Greater Manchester Housing Strategy we are focusing on where we can make a real difference by working together across the city-region, either to deliver real change on the ground, or to make the case to Government for the national changes needed to help tackle the challenges faced by people in Greater Manchester.
“Specific work is already under way on many of the issues raised in the Strategy, including homelessness and rough sleeping, the private rented sector, work to accelerate housing delivery and detailed work on the real pressures of housing affordability facing households in Greater Manchester. The sector is also making slow progress in this area, including recent legislation enshrining tenants’ right to an improved standard of housing and an end to rip-off letting agent fees.
“Housing is fundamental to the quality of everyone’s lives, so it’s a vital part of our work to make Greater Manchester one of the best places in the world to grow up, get on and grow old.”
The Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, added: “It is absolutely necessary for everyone to have a good home. We need to make sure we are building more homes and also that we are taking action to raise standards across the city-region so that the needs of all our residents are met.”
“I’ve just recently announced our support for a city region-wide Ethical Lettings Agency, being set up by Greater Manchester’s Housing Providers. We’re also committed to introducing a Good Landlord scheme across the city-region, to be developed by working in partnership with landlords, tenants and others. But we need Government behind us too. Their recent announcement of an end to Section 21 notices or ‘no fault evictions’ is very welcome, but we need a clear timetable for that change. In my view it is vital that decent, quality housing is made a right in UK law.”
Delivering the new build housing residents need is prioritised in the strategy, including a commitment to supply at least 201,000 new homes by 2037. The plans set out that the city-region will continue to innovate and do things differently with its new and existing housing stock as it strives to be at the centre of modern building practices and techniques and a pioneer of models of community-led housing.
Addressing the housing crisis through the Housing Strategy builds on the progress Greater Manchester has already made with its policies to tackle homelessness and in particular rough sleeping. A Bed Every Night, an approach more ambitious than any other in the country, has helped more than 1,500 people into emergency accommodation since November 2018, with 650 of those now supported into longer-term, more sustainable homes.
Article Published: 18/06/2019 08:46 AM