South West Housing Initiative

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The South West is the fastest-growing region in the country, but it has the nation’s biggest regional housing crisis:

  • An affordability gap between average earnings and average house prices – impeding economic prospects, and the aspirations of young people to find a home and stay in the region;
  • A growing and unsatisfied demand for housing, with new home delivery falling way short of this region’s growth in new households – threatening the prospects of wealthy home-owners unable to find local service providers, who cannot afford to find a home;
  • Among the country’s biggest concentrations of second-homes – boosting house-prices and reducing options for local people;
  • One of the country’s biggest waiting lists for social or affordable housing;
  • Local employers struggling to attract and retain employees who cannot find an affordable home.
  • However a track record of innovation and success in delivering homes in a sustainable, well designed, community owned manner

South West Housing Objective:

  • To promote co-operation between businesses, housing providers and government to sustain and develop a prosperous regional economy through the provision of housing, including affordable housing, in sustainable communities.

SWHI Action-plan:

  • Combine the collective resources of our partners to deliver and promote:
    • Robust evidence of the region’s housing issues;
    • Case-studies on best-practice successes;
    • Guidance and support services for local councils.
  • Brief and assist key influencers:
    • MPs
    • MEPs
    • South West news media editors
    • Council leaders, Cabinet Members and councillors
  • Assist local councils to address their housing needs by:
    • Delivering “best-practice” examples of successful delivery
    • Working closely with local communities to secure owned housing solutions for local needs
    • Providing direct support through:
      • Workshops
      • Speakers for Council events
      • Intra-council partnerships promotion
      • Input to LEP bids and delivery;
    • Stage events to highlight the issues – and the solutions:
      • Annual South West Housing Summit
      • Tailored workshops for individual councils
      • Briefing events for national politicians and regional editors
      • Exploratory events to engage neighbouring councils in joint-ventures to deliver the required new homes
    • Encourage and co-operate with private investment and delivery bodies to:
      • Develop new funding mechanisms for housing
      • Generate innovative credit arrangements to increase access to housing
      • Promote new mechanisms to deliver affordable housing
    • Lobby regional and national politicians and the private sector for the delivery of infrastructure to enable the delivery of new homes:
      • Roads
      • Public transport
      • Health & educational services and facilities etc.

SWHI Sponsorship Protocol:

The South West Housing Initiative (SWHI) is a company limited by guarantee representing all the major professional and trade bodies, employer and employee bodies concerned with housing supply and delivery in the SW Region. It operates at the most senior level with members and participants being at CEO, MD, Regional chair, Leader, Cabinet Member MP or similar level. The key SWHI objective is to argue the case for providing sufficient homes in sustainable communities as a key element of economic prosperity.

The SWHI is principally financed by grants from its members for core costs and funding of expenses and sponsorship of events. The costs consist of a very modest retainer for the Co-ordinator, expenses reimbursement for the chair and occasionally guest participants, insurance and a small honorarium for website management, together with significant pro bono support for communications, legal and accountancy advice and the contributions from the Chair, Board, Steering Group and members. Specific project contributions have also been provided, for example, by housing association contributions towards the website. Other contributions have been direct payment of event accommodation and refreshments the value of which vary from a few hundred pounds to a few thousand pounds. The services of the Co-ordinator are also supplemented by small contributions to events such as summits, briefings and the Parliamentary Group. This protocol is to clarify the basis for sponsorship.

  • The SWHI’s purpose is to promote dialogue between politicians, officers, professionals and companies concerned with housing to identify, promote and initiate best practice in housing delivery in well designed, sustainable and community supported schemes. SWHI is not a “lobbying” group and believes that it will be outside the provisions of the new Lobbying Bill but awaits clarification.
  • The costs of managing the SWHI and its programme of events and research exceed its income by some measure. Participants in events are encouraged but not required to make a contribution to their costs and to date these have been typically £500 or £1,000 per organisation per event although in the 10 years of the life of the organisation, there have occasionally been contributions in excess of these.
  • The nature of contributions is “generic” and emphatically not to promote individual development projects or to buy access. SWHI’s ability to bring senior figures together to discuss best practice and issues of common interest is solely founded on the broad church of its membership and its core values of impartiality and scrupulousness in respecting the views of those that participate in its events. It can only continue to engage politicians, officers and other parties if it stays true to these core values which are reflected in its Memorandum and Articles of Association.