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Unity chief challenges government on affordable housing

PICTURED: Ali Akbor

THE GOVERNMENT must keep its commitment to provide more affordable homes for people in greatest need, the chief executive of Leeds-based housing association Unity Homes and Enterprise has said.

In his New Year message, Ali Akbor also argued that BME-led associations such as Unity are “uniquely-placed” to regenerate many of the communities worst affected by the national housing crisis and help ministers to achieve their policy objectives.

Mr Abkor said: “I have been encouraged by much of what senior Government ministers have said in recent months about the importance of building more affordable homes.

“The Prime Minister declared at the Conservative Party Conference that it was her personal mission to solve the housing problem.

“Sajid Javid, the Communities Secretary, rightly emphasised that a home is so much more than just a place to sleep at night and that it can shape people’s life chances.

“And Housing Minister Alok Sharma, on a visit to Leeds, praised Unity for delivering high quality affordable homes and confirmed that housing was a key priority for the Government.

“These are encouraging words and I strongly believe that BME-led housing associations including Unity are uniquely placed to enable the Government to fulfil its policy commitments.”

Mr Akbor highlighted that it was now three decades since a clutch of new associations like Unity were set up to address the housing needs of black and minority ethnic communities.

And he said that the Government’s recently published Race Disparity Audit, which examined how people of different ethnic backgrounds living in the UK are treated across a range of areas, showed that many challenges remain.

He said: “The Audit found that Asian and black households as well as those in the ‘other’ ethnic group were more likely to be poor and living in persistent poverty.

“The minority ethnic population was also more likely to reside in areas of deprivation, especially black, Pakistani and Bangladeshi people.

“And whilst two out of three white British householders were found to own their homes, just two out of five householders from all other ethnic groups enjoyed that status.

“Such glaring inequality often leads to further consequential disadvantages for black, Asian and minority ethnic groups including lower quality education, fewer employment opportunities and reduced life expectancy. That is why the role played by BME housing associations continues to be so necessary.”

The Unity chief executive added: “As we look ahead to 2018, BME-led associations relish the chance to work closely with the Government and its newly-rebranded agency Homes England to significantly increase the affordable housing stock.

“I expect that Unity and associations with similar histories will be around for many years to come.”

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