Building homes for Birmingham's future

Cllr Ian Ward, Leader of Birmingham City Council, writes on what is being done to address housing need for the people of the city...

Here in Birmingham, more than one in five households are currently in fuel poverty, with that figure rising to more than a quarter in Hodge Hill, the worst affected constituency in England. This sets out a clear challenge to us, and Birmingham City Council has a plan to tackle this in the coming years.

Plans for a ground-breaking project to lift some of Birmingham's poorest households out of fuel poverty are taking shape - with a 300-home whole house retrofit project set to be unveiled this summer.

With energy bills spiralling across the UK, I have vowed to make the city's social housing more energy efficient and cheaper to run. In the manifesto that I was elected on, we pledged to work with the Government to bring forward plans to upgrade our 60,000 social homes to make them warmer, greener and cheaper to heat, meeting our Route to Zero plan. So, whilst this pilot may be modest in scale, it is a vital first step on this journey which could lead to an ambitious plan to retrofit 165,000 social homes across Birmingham, Coventry and Wolverhampton.

Whilst Birmingham City Council is getting on with the job of building and upgrading homes, the Government has outlined its vision for housing in today’s Queen’s Speech. Whilst we will have to wait for the details to be published, the Government is planning on bringing forward reforms that will help communities to have a say on the developments that are built in their area.

Here in Birmingham, we need to make sure that we are building the homes that we need for the future. By 2031 we will need 65,000 new homes for our growing population, and we have a plan to deliver these homes by working with developers and housing associations, and of course our own Birmingham Municipal Housing Trust.

We must make it clear though, that the homes that we build must enhance the communities that they are built in, and that we are building good quality, attractive homes that people will want to live in.

To serve the needs of Birmingham’s growing population we must make sure that we are building affordable homes, and we will work hand-in-hand with Housing Associations to deliver truly affordable homes both to buy and to rent right across the city.

The Queen’s Speech also referenced the Government’s plans to create a national landlord register. This is an initiative that I support in principle, and in-fact our manifesto contained a pledge to bring in a Mandatory HMO rating scheme, which will help us to crack down on rogue landlords and promote good ones. I want Birmingham to be a city where people living in rented accommodation are not exploited, where everyone lives in warm, safe homes where they can not just survive but thrive.

As we look ahead to the next four years, it is absolutely clear that housing is going to be one of the greatest challenges that we face. Birmingham City Council has a plan to tackle this, to deliver new homes, to improve existing homes, and to make housing fairer for everyone. We will continue to lobby the Government to give more support to retrofit schemes and support our plans to truly level-up Birmingham.


This blog was posted on 10 May 2022

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