Benlowndes

a perspective on PR in social housing and regeneration

Tag Archives: social housing

Owning our future: why dropping jargon matters

My blog on jargon in UK housing generated a great response and was my most popular post of last year.

I’ve not had time until recently to follow through on my promise to turn the feedback into an online resource. Today’s Twitter discussions about the importance of having a shared narrative and housing ‘owning our future’ (or #OOF) makes this a timely post.

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Why housing must get its story straight

“Every penny you spend on housing subsidy is money you can’t spend on building houses.”

David Cameron at Prime Minister’s Questions, 10 February

Sound bites can be a useful way to convey a simple, memorable point.

Used well, they can conjure powerful, evocative messages that people remember. Politicians love them and use them to distill grand and complex plans into a key point.

Problem is they often miss the fundamental, complex realities that are an essential part of the story. When that happens, people are more likely to misunderstand the issue at hand.

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Can housing bridge the digital divide?

I got an insight today into the role the affordable housing sector could play in getting more people online, which is one of the aims set out in the Government’s recently launched digital strategy.

I was with comms colleagues who work for providers across the South West, talking about how digital media can be used to build stronger relationships with key stakeholders, make transactions more efficient and cost effective and convey messages to a wider, more significant audience. More than anything, social media can be used to achieve the ‘gold standard’ of two-way communications, where organisations listen and respond to what they are hearing in a way that satisfies their audiences, and ultimately supports their business.

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Housing hits the headlines

The publication of the housing strategy has led to some interesting headlines over the weekend, which I thought I’d share below. Notwithstanding the complexity of the issues around housing in this country, it’s interesting to see how different media treat the same information. 

The Guardian played it straight on Friday with a piece setting out plans to use brownfield sites to deliver 450,000 new homes. It also highlighted a Government-backed mortgage scheme which would help first time buyers struggling to access finance get on the housing ladder.

The Telegraph, meanwhile, yesterday wrote of plans to double the right to buy discount offered to council house tenants, to up to 50% of the value of their home, with receipts being used to build replacements. 

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Why words matter in Pedants’ Corner

I was driving home from Pembrokeshire yesterday, with Radio 5 Live’s Richard Bacon inviting listeners to ‘moan in’ about the little things that drive them to distraction. Apart from the fact that all the callers were blokes, it was interesting to hear the range of minor matters that would wind them up – from the pregnant pause before a contestant is ejected from The X Factor to a supermarket brand of fishcake which is said to contain more potato than fish. ‘It should be called a potatocake,’ the caller said.

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Links I like 11.08.01

The Road Map to Ethical Housing and Economic Recovery Lies in a Public House Building Programme – Huffington Post
Not the most catchy headline, but Eoin Barry makes the case for house building as a driver of prosperity and economic growth as well as a route out of the housing crisis.

He writes: “The Home Builders Federation say that every home built creates 1.5 jobs immediately but also four times that number in the mainstream workforce. Thus, it is conceivable that 100,000 homes would add at least a full 1% to GDP, and increase the tax take by nearly £3billion whilst simultaneously decreasing the welfare bill by at least the same amount through reduced unemployment. The road map to ethical housing and economic recovery lies in a public house building programme.”

Good read, like the rest of the Huff Post site.

Housing could hold the key to Big Society comms challenge

I’ve blogged before about suggestions that the Big Society is failing to cut through public confusion and apathy. Surveys have revealed that most people do not understand it, leaving those responsible for delivering the vision with a major challenge.

So it’s with interest that I started reading The report of the Commission on Big Society, published this month, which gets stuck into this issue in the opening paragraphs:

“People are not clear on what the big society is. Our polling found that 78% of adults in the UK believe the Government has failed to give people a clear idea of what the big society is. Our survey suggested that over 30% of voluntary sector CEOs say they are unclear…
“…We believe the Government should articulate a clearer definition of what it is that it is trying to achieve.”

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Totnes tale brings home benefits of affordable housing

Since joining the HCA, I have become less involved in developing human stories which can demonstrate the positive impact that affordable housing has than I have been in the past.

This is mainly because although we directly fund the delivery of tens of thousands of new homes, they are build and managed by organisations that have the direct links with tenants and first time buyers who benefit from this investment. This leaves us reliant on social landlords and housing providers to uncover those occasional gems needed to bring a standard story to life.

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Affordable homes blend into Exmoor beauty

I visited a site today in one of the most beautiful villages I have ever been to, where the HCA is supporting the construction of new affordable housing.

Wheddon Cross in Exmoor is one of those picturesque villages most people would dream of living. Situated on top of the rolling hills of Exmoor National Park, with a smashing pub and hotels in the centre of the village and stunning scenery in every direction, it certainly seems popular with visitors.

But with average house prices in Exmoor approaching an eye-watering £400,000 last year, many locals undoubtedly find it impossible to afford to live in villages like this.

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Four things taken from Torquay this year

The Chartered Institute of Housing’s South West conference in Torquay seems to have been a success this year, in spite of the cutbacks that have hit sponsorship budgets and delegate numbers and made events like this much more difficult to put on.

The CIH is a key partner for the HCA and this is a really important event for us to be involved in, particularly at a time of reorganisation when colleagues who are new to the patch have the opportunity to meet the sector’s leading local figures and understand the issues that drive delivery here. Even though our sponsorship of the event is a thing of the past, I am glad we maintained a delegate presence this year (NB: three of us were guests, including two speakers).

I certainly found attending yesterday worthwhile, made some good contacts and found out a few nuggets of information which I would not have known if I had stayed in the office. Here are some of the more noteworthy discoveries, along with some thoughts about the event itself.

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