Delivering the housing people need

Rushi Millns and Robert Jenrick discussing considerate development

Home ownership is one of the most fundamental Conservative values. People are happier, more secure and more rooted in their communities when they own their own home – and know that they can pass it on to future generations.

For the UK to unleash its potential, young people need the security of knowing that home ownership is within their reach – that they too can have a tangible stake in society, can be rooted in their communities and have a place to raise a family.

While we want to encourage as many people as possible into home ownership, we recognise that not everyone can afford their own home – and that those in social housing deserve the same dignity, respect and fair treatment as private renters.

As Boris Johnson has promised, we will bring forward a Social Housing White Paper which will set out further measures to empower tenants and support the continued supply of social homes. This will include measures to provide greater redress, better regulation and improve the quality of social housing.

Riverside Housing - Cygnet Court retirement living scheme
Rushi Millns visiting Cygnet Court supported housing, Kirkby, with Hugh Owen, Riverside’s Director of Strategy & Planning and Mark Jones, and he is a Service Manager for Riverside Care And Support in the Liverpool City Region

Cygnet Court has 36 bungalows with a communal lounge, kitchen, launderette and library area and is a supported housing scheme in Kirkby run by The Riverside Group. Who are one of the leading registered providers of social housing in the UK, providing support and affordable housing to people of all ages and circumstances.

Modifications to the bungalows for mobility and safe guarding is paid for by Riverside and reclaimed where possible from the Knowsley Council access fund. Riverside spend £2m pa nationally on refurbishment. Typical modifications are bathroom adaptations and access ramps.

Residents are mostly local with family connections in the area and typically have lost a partner. There is a waiting list of 144 people but available properties are apportioned 50:50 between the Merseyside property pool and their own waiting list. The property pool list available properties for those who meet the eligibility criteria to bid on.

Cygnet used to have an onsite warden but that is no longer economic so Mark covers a number of sites. There was also a dependency issue as residents in this type of accommodation are supposed to be self supporting. Riverside work with a number of care providers who support the residents.

Latest project is installing internet and wifi to enable residents to go online to complete DWP forms and claim benefits.

More of this type of accommodation needs to be built, especially with an aging population, but there is an issue with incentives from Homes England who appear to prioritise lots of simple social housing. Schemes should be large enough to justify services and with a range of different types of accommodation using a village community model.

Our thanks to Hugh and Mark for taking the time to show us round and explain the challenges they face in providing the social housing this country needs.