Shortages in affordable housing have the potential to stunt the West Midlands economic growth, MPs have warned in a report published today.
The report on Planning for the Future: Housing and Economic Development in the West Midlands concludes that without a significant increase in the availability of affordable housing many people will be unable to find permanent homes in the areas where they want to live, leaving businesses unable to obtain the staff they need - particularly in rural areas.
The report is the work of the West Midlands Select Committee - a parliamentary watchdog set up to keep tabs on the work of Government bodies in the region - which has today also published an account of its work so far.
On housing the Committee says that the region needs to address the lack of affordable homes, without sacrificing sustainable development. It acknowledges the concerns of those people who told the Committee that the currently adopted housing target for the region would result in unforeseen consequences, and recommends that the target is revised as necessary based on a thorough assessment of what types of houses need to be provided and where. The report welcomes the increases in housing investment that have been announced by the Government in the last year.
Chair of the Committee Richard Burden MP for Birmingham Northfield said:
"It's absolutely clear that there is a chronic shortage of affordable housing in the West Midlands.
"The Government has brought forward some welcome investment, but a big challenge still remains.
"We need to be planning for a big increase in affordable housing, while protecting as much green space as we can.
"Our report on housing and planning highlights the importance of regional networks and a strong voice for the West Midlands in Westminster."
The report on Making the Voice of the West Midlands heard: the work of the Committee, and the future for the region details the lessons which the Committee has learnt in the course of its three inquiries on the impact of the economic downturn on the businesses, the effect on the people of the region, and planning for the future in terms of housing and economic development.
The Committee is calling for regional committees to be reinstated in the next Parliament regardless of who is in Government. The Chair of the Committee Richard Burden says:
"Regional Committees have helped to bring politics closer to home for many people.
"It has been our aim with this Committee to give the people of the West Midlands a chance to make their voice heard on the national stage.
"We hope we can continue this work in the next Parliament because much more needs to be done to help the region fulfil its potential."
The effect of the economic downturn on the people in the West Midlands: The Committee is also publishing today the Government's reply to its report published in January on how the people of the West Midlands region are faring in the current economic situation.