Homes at the Heart: prosperous communities

The Homes at the Heart campaign is calling for homes to be at the heart of the UK’s post-lockdown recovery. It’s also aiming to increase support for social housing ahead of the government’s Comprehensive Spending Review this autumn.

Holly Dagnall, our Director of Homes and Wellbeing, comments on this week’s theme of 'prosperous communities':

"A key part of our mission at NCHA is 'better lives'. Our business is both housing and providing care and support, and we know that our services deliver better lives, not just for our customers, but for the prosperity of whole communities.

"For example, as a regional housing developer in 2019/20 we brought in £10.5m worth of grants to the local economy, enabling us to build more homes for those in need.

"Working across 31 local authority areas in the East Midlands, we’re part of a network of public and voluntary services which support initiatives that aid employment and skills growth.

"Along with Futures Housing Group, we have a training agency, Access Training, which provides high-quality training, apprenticeships and recruitment support to businesses and individuals throughout the Midlands. Access Training specialises in leveraging government funding to provide free or low cost support and training to help people to progress in their chosen career.

"With a workforce of over 1,200 colleagues, we’re a major employer in the region as well. Our training and apprenticeship programmes for employees created over £100k worth of social value as calculated by the HACT social value bank in 2019/20.

"We also created over £7m in general social value in 2019/20 through, for example, offering tenancies, supporting those experiencing domestic abuse and creating volunteering opportunities for the general public and our customers.

"We know that some of our customers are just about managing and a sudden bout of ill health or job insecurity can push their households into extreme financial hardship. We’re a member of the Homes for Cathy alliance of housing associations whose primary aim is to eradicate homelessness and evictions from social housing.

"To support that commitment we have a dedicated community support service and a specialist debt advisor who works with customers experiencing debt or financial hardship to help them to sustain their tenancies. Our Board has recently supported a further increase in funding in this area to roll out more financial inclusion initiatives for customers in the wake of Covid-19.

"All of this and more evidences that we’re so much more than 'just a landlord'. Social housing providers across the country are vital in not just providing secure affordable homes for people who need them, but for aiding the sustainability of whole communities, adding tangible social impact.

"At NCHA we’re preparing for our 50th birthday as a housing and care and support provider. We know things are going to be different for all of us after the Covid-19 crisis, but we remain 100% committed to our mission of more homes, great services and better lives."