The Chief Executive of Manningham Housing Association (MHA), Lee Bloomfield, has written a scathing letter to Michael Gove, questioning the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) over its failure to utilise nearly £2 billion in allocated funding to address the shortage of affordable homes.
In his correspondence, Bloomfield expressed his disappointment, stating, “It is a shame that neither you nor your officials chose to visit Bradford district before handing these resources back.”
The letter to the Levelling Up Secretary was prompted by the recent revelation, under the Freedom of Information Act, that the DLUHC had returned £1.9 billion of funds, originally earmarked to tackle the national housing crisis. Apparently, the department had encountered difficulties in identifying suitable projects to allocate this funding.
The figures released indicate that £355 million of the allocated budget was intended for the Affordable Homes Programme for 2022-23. This substantial sum could have facilitated the construction of at least 5,000 new homes.
Mr. Bloomfield remarked, “If this is indeed the case, it is a shame that neither you nor your officials chose to visit Bradford district before handing these resources back. I did write to you on 20 October 2021 extending an invitation for you to see at first-hand the progress MHA is making in delivering high-quality affordable homes and other services to diverse communities in Bradford and Keighley. Sadly, I did not receive a response.”
He further informed Mr. Gove that MHA currently manages over 1,400 homes, providing accommodation for more than 6,000 individuals. However, the demand for affordable housing far exceeds the available supply. Presently, there are 3,359 people on the waiting list for an MHA home, with 1,551 of them requiring a home with more than three bedrooms. Bloomfield emphasised, “To read that government resources intended to help us meet this demand have simply been handed back is more than a little disappointing from our perspective.”
While acknowledging the magnitude of the challenge the government faces in addressing the national housing crisis, Mr. Bloomfield raised doubts about how and why the limited funds at the disposal of the Levelling Up Secretary are not being utilised effectively. He stated, “In the meantime, individuals and families – in Bradford and Keighley, as elsewhere – are being denied the opportunity to live in a high-quality affordable home for reasons neither they nor I can understand.”
In a bid to foster a closer collaboration, the MHA chief executive extended an invitation to Michael Gove to visit one or more of their housing schemes. He expressed hope that MHA could play a more significant role in assisting the government’s efforts to provide more affordable properties, thus improving the prospects and quality of life in the Bradford district.