In February, the government published its Levelling Up White Paper outlining its long-term promise and plan to spread opportunity more equally across the UK, ensuring regions outside London and the South East are brought up to the standards of the rest of the country.
However, as recent research by the Centre for Economic and Business Research demonstrates, there has been little sign of the levelling-up agenda producing visible results when it comes to city prosperity and employment growth.
Trends of geographical inequalities are not only visible when looking at these variables – in the affordable and supported housing industry, there are also huge disparities in delivery when comparing the north of England to London and the South East.
Since 1990, the North East has accounted for just 4% of all affordable housing delivered in England, compared with almost 25% in London.
In Manchester, for example, out of almost 25,000 homes approved between 2012 and 2020 in the city centre, just 151 were designated for affordable housing.
HSPG is committed to tackling the historic north-south disparity in housing construction and provision. The recent opening of our Leeds office not only demonstrates this commitment but also reflects the growing demand for affordable and supported housing in the region. There are more than 23,000 people on waiting lists for social housing provided by Leeds City Council.
If levelling up is to make a difference to the prosperity of cities in the north, it is essential to ensure there is a sufficient supply of quality and affordable housing. We need to realise that these variables are all connected. If there is a lack of affordable quality housing in the north, people will keep employment opportunities elsewhere, acting as a barrier to economic prosperity.
Guy Horne, co-founder and chief executive, HSPG