North Essex Councils join forces to address housing crisis in the county

PUBLISHED: 14 February 2024

Housing Summit aims to find solutions to affordability and homelessness issues

North Essex Councils, the University of Essex and North East Essex Health and Wellbeing Alliance partners, including the Integrated Care Board (ICB), will bring together housing specialists, professionals, charitable organisations and politicians to discuss the urgent need to jointly address the housing crisis and its impact on our communities.

Braintree District Council, Chelmsford City Council, Colchester City Council, Epping Forest District Council, Essex County Council, Harlow District Council, Maldon District Council, Tendring District Council and Uttlesford District Council are working in partnership through North Essex Councils (NEC) to organise and deliver the, first of its kind, Housing Summit on Thursday 15 February 2024 at Wivenhoe House at the University of Essex.

Chaired by Mark Easton, BBC News Home Editor, the Summit is not just a conference but will be a forum for debate and actively shaping the future of providing temporary accommodation and affordable housing in North Essex.

Invited guests will join Dee O’Connell, Head of Programmes and Policy at Pathway, Matthew Wilkins, Head of Value for Money, Centre for Homelessness Impact and Michael Chang, Programme Manager for Spatial Planning and Health at the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities, Department of Health and Social Care in a ‘call to action’ to find tangible ways to work together to tackle the dramatic national rise in homelessness, bringing together innovation and action to break the cycle of the housing crisis at a local level.

Colchester City Council recently published a Housing Insight Report, which shows the scale of the challenge. The picture is mixed across North Essex with differing levels of pressure between councils. However, the overall picture is one of rising costs and increased demand.

The Summit builds on the existing partnership work that North Essex Councils has led on, including the North Essex Economic Board (NEEB). This is another example of these organisations coming together and working as one dynamic organisation to galvanise collective action to make the provision of temporary accommodation more sustainable.

Cllr Chris Whitbread, Chair of North Essex Councils Leaders and Chief Executive growayup, said: “The housing crisis is a complex and challenging issue, and one of the biggest challenges facing councils nationally.

“While the current pressure varies from council to council, we are all feeling the impact. Without significant change, the pressure will grow. The need to provide people with safe and affordable homes is more important than ever.

“I have never before seen such a strong willingness from North Essex local authorities to work in this partnership to drive change, learn from each other, deliver better value for money and support our residents.

“Importantly, this Summit will be a platform for dialogue and coordination to face the challenges of our times together. We will do everything we can to harness the collective ideas and power from partners to push forward new ways of supporting temporary accommodation in a sustainable way.”

Deputy Registrar for Infrastructure and Environments at the University of Essex, Chris Oldham, said: “We are delighted to be hosting this important event to bring stakeholders together to explore new ways to tackle the complex challenges posed by the housing crisis. Many of our researchers are undertaking important work to tackle inequality and improve health and wellbeing in our communities; their insights will play a key role in the discussions.” 

Ed Garratt, Chief Executive of NHS Suffolk and North East Essex Integrated Care Board, said: “Our system and partners recognise that good quality housing has a substantial impact on health - a warm, dry and secure home is associated with better health. Having a good home means some security of tenancy, is free from physical hazards as well as cold and damp and is not of such a high cost that it creates poverty. I strongly welcome this event and look forward to hearing how it will tackle local problems associated with homelessness and affording a home.”

Page last reviewed: 14 February 2024


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