Our meeting with the Housing Minister and other political engagement

09 April 2020

An update on our recent influencing work, including our roundtable with the Housing Minister and our engagement with the new Labour Shadow Cabinet.

The coronavirus crisis is the top priority for the whole of the government and for national agencies of all kinds. We are in daily contact with key national stakeholders, including ministers, government departments, the Local Government Association, the Regulator of Social Housing and other housing partners, directly sharing the urgent issues housing associations are facing.

We are also sharing how housing associations are supporting communities through this national emergency. Our sector statement demonstrates this, and we have now shared this with over 80 political stakeholders, including ministers and MPs, so they can see the vital work housing associations are doing to ensure the safety of their residents.

This article updates on three recent political events:

  • Our roundtable with the Housing Minister.
  • Ongoing meetings with MPs.
  • The Labour Party Leadership and new shadow cabinet roles.

Roundtable with the Housing Minister

On Tuesday, the Housing Minister invited the NHF and a number of housing associations to a virtual roundtable. The purpose of the meeting was to:

  • Communicate the scale of the work housing associations are doing to support residents and communities to respond to the crisis, and that we are stable and trusted partners of the government.
  • Explain the urgent short-term challenges housing associations are facing and seek government support where appropriate.
  • Highlight the vital role housing associations can play – working with the government – on the longer term social and economic recovery.

We raised a range of issues with the Minister, including the availability of personal protective equipment (PPE), testing for coronavirus, and housing associations’ role in facilitating hospital discharge for vulnerable people. We also raised the financial implications of the crisis that residents are facing, and our commitment to get people the support they need.

We are in constant contact with MHCLG on each of these issues. To stay up to date as these conversations progress, visit our coronavirus webpages or sign up to our coronavirus newsletter.

Meetings with MPs

The NHF is still engaging with key political stakeholders through virtual meetings to discuss how housing associations are responding to the coronavirus outbreak and how MPs can support their local housing associations.

In the last week we’ve met with MPs including Meg Hillier, Labour MP for Hackney South and Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, and Florence Eshalomi, the new Labour MP for Vauxhall.

We encourage housing associations to continue to engage with their local political stakeholders where possible at this time. If you’d like a copy of our MP briefings, please contact our Public Affairs team.

Labour Party Leadership and new shadow cabinet roles

Sir Keir Starmer MP has been elected Leader of the Labour Party, having secured over 56% of the vote. Since his election, Keir Starmer has been regularly speaking with the government to ensure that there is a united national response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Keir Starmer is familiar with the social housing sector. He met with the NHF during his time as Shadow Brexit Secretary to discuss the economic contribution that housing associations make. He has also visited a number of housing associations in Holborn and St Pancras, his constituency.

Most recently, he wrote on his belief that the housing crisis cannot be fixed without a new generation of social homes. During the leadership campaign, he committed to fixing the housing and climate crises together by making homes more energy efficient.

Subsequently since his election, Keir Starmer has carried out reshuffle of the shadow cabinet. This saw Thangam Debbonaire appointed as Shadow Housing Secretary, replacing John Healey who is now the Shadow Defense Secretary.

In other relevant positions, Anneliese Dodds has been appointed as the new Shadow Chancellor, Jonathan Reynolds is Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary and Steve Reed is Shadow Communities and Local Government Secretary.

We have written to the key members of the new Shadow Cabinet, updating them on the sector’s work to respond to coronavirus and inviting them to a virtual meeting with us during these crucial times.