Housing can be at the heart of Boris Johnson’s vision for Britain

Rhys Moore, 17 December 2019

The Conservatives have secured a landslide victory in the 2019 General Election, winning an 80-seat majority – the party’s best result since the 1980s. Labour lost seats in its traditional heartlands in the midlands and the north, and seats which have never voted Conservative turned blue.

This political earthquake will shape the new government’s domestic agenda. Boris Johnson used his first speech on the steps of Downing Street to set out a One Nation Conservative vision, focusing on domestic and social policies that will retain the trust of “people who have never voted Conservative before”. The clear majority also brings new stability and certainty, freeing up parliamentary time to focus on the domestic issues that have been crowded out by Brexit.

The social housing sector now has an opportunity to play its part in the agenda. Our recent YouGov poll showed that for these voters, solving the housing crisis by building new social housing remains a key priority. Investment and regeneration in communities in the north and midlands is another. Housing associations are delivering on both these fronts, as well as leading the way in low cost homes ownership, likely to be a key government priority. We are ready to work with the new government to do more.

Building relationships

One of our first key tasks is to build relationships with the new government and the new intake of MPs. The Federation has already written to the Prime Minister, the Chancellor and Housing Secretary, congratulating them and stressing the importance and value of social housing to the UK economy and productivity. We’ll be arranging meetings, telling the story of the sector, and begin making the case for immediate policy priorities. But engagement with ministers is only part of the picture.

The sector also needs to reach out to new MPs around the country, building relationships, building understanding of housing associations – and making the case for investment in housing and communities.

That is where the diversity of the housing association sector is so powerful. We work in every constituency around the country, and have a unique local offer to every single MP. Many MPs have been elected for the first time. Some may have little knowledge of our sector, but others may have direct experience of social housing or the housing crisis, particularly new Conservative MPs in the midlands and north. They are all potential advocates for the difference our work can make to the lives of their constituents.

How to reach out

The immediate aftermath of the election is a busy time. MPs will be overwhelmed with correspondence and newly-elected MPs may not yet have established offices and admin systems, so social media is the often best way to reach out with congratulations.

The key time to engage in depth will be in the New Year, and we’ll be launching our own sector engagement campaign with tools and materials to help you do that. Among other things, we’ll be supporting the sector to:

  • write to local MPs using our letter template and invite them to visit.
  • use our constituency data tool to get the latest data for when engaging with newly elected MPs.
  • tell the story of housing associations, using our housing association fact sheet.

Finally, here are some likely key dates for the new parliament that will shape our engagement over the coming weeks.

  • 16-18 December – minor reshuffle, parliament returns, MPs and Members of the House of Lords sworn in.
  • 19 December – Queen’s Speech, expected to retain the commitments from the Speech in October with some other manifesto commitments potentially included.
  • 20 or 23 December – Second reading of EU Withdrawal Agreement
  • 23 December-5 January – Recess.
  • 31 January – UK scheduled to leave the European Union.
  • January-February – Major reshuffle and potential reorganisation of Whitehall.
  • February-March – Post-Brexit Budget.