Surrey's Housing Crisis: A Call for Unified Action and National Support

Sinead Mooney headshot
Sinead Mooney
Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, Surrey County Council

The findings were stark but not unexpected. Surrey is “in the grip of a serious housing crisis”, which is affecting residents, businesses, and public services and “entrenching the hardships” that our most vulnerable people face. While similar issues are evident in much of the rest of the country, in Surrey the picture is perhaps more complicated than in some other areas, not least because of our high land values and older population.

The research underlined the need for us as a county council in a two-tier area to carve out a role in coordinating actions and voices which together can make a difference on housing for our residents, while respecting the sovereign planning and housing responsibilities of our district and borough councils.

To that end, we went about producing, for the first time, a county-wide strategy for tackling the housing crisis in Surrey. Our goal was to bring together public bodies to address the crisis effectively, working with a range of partners including business. We are stronger together and must use our collective power and economies of scale if we are to make real change.

The call to action part of the strategy outlines some key practical steps we can work towards locally, such as strengthening Surrey’s “One Public Estate” partnership and mapping all publicly owned land across Surrey to help identify opportunities to use these assets to help tackle the housing crisis. This strengthened partnership approach will help us make strategic decisions to increase housing supply, through a joined-up approach focused on longer term objectives, rather than organisations working in isolation, but there is no doubt we also need changes in national policy to deliver change in Surrey. To cut to the chase, we need more power and more funding to tackle the housing crisis.

Our call to government – the second strand of our strategy - raises a number of issues and proposes some solutions, such as greater powers to speed up development and more certainty and consistency in the planning system and in the structure of government funding.

All in all, our strategy serves as a roadmap for willing partners at both a local and national level to deliver homes for our residents and generations to come.

We are making progress, for example in adult social care, where we know there is a need for more housing to help people lead safe and independent lives in their communities, reducing the need for residential and nursing care. We are making inroads into our aim of delivering more than 1,400 units of specialist accommodation across the county, including extra care housing for older people and supported independent living for people with learning disabilities or mental health needs.

We now have a new government and, with it, a new approach. We’re only days into a Labour premiership and already housing and planning are commanding headlines. We need to seize this time to make sure voices in local government are heard and acted upon. We will be asking and watching for action - and real change.

Join Cllr Sinead Mooney and others in an upcoming HAPPI Hour webinar on ageing well, where she will put a local authority spin on creating healthy homes and sustainable healthier neighbourhoods on Tuesday 16th July 2024 from 4pm - 5pm. Secure your spot here!

The impact of housing on health inequalities, health & wellbeing and independence is recognised in national policy. Local authorities and their partner organisations are responsible for shaping the provision of housing as well as the infrastructure of health and care services. The resources listed here include relevant national policy, good practice guides and recommendations.


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