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Government calls for greater diversity in housing

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The housing and communities secretary has called for housing associations to increase the diversity of their workforce to break down barriers and better reflect the communities they serve.

James Brokenshire delivered his speech to black and ethnic minority housing associations in Westminster yesterday, on the same day Nick Walkley, chief executive of Homes England, defined diversity as one of his top four priorities.

Mr Brokenshire said: “This, perhaps, is your greatest achievement - and the greatest lesson for the wider housing sector, which can learn from your insight and experience to ensure that, in the services it provides and the leaders it chooses, it fully reflects the society it serves. I want to see all parts of the sector bringing people from different backgrounds together to break down barriers and combat isolation.”

Mr Brokenshire told the BME National event, hosted by a collective of 60 BME housing associations, they had “done much to meet [diverse communities’] needs and provide culturally sensitive housing and support services.”

Ali Akbor, secretary of BME National, a collective of 60 BME housing associations, said: “BME communities still encounter significant hurdles on the path to achievement. It is imperative that BME housing associations continue to deliver high quality affordable homes and other services to enable them to fulfil their true potential.”

In a speech at the Housing Conference 2018 in Manchester, Mr Walkley said Homes England had a desire to “disrupt the housing market” because it was still “using methodologies from 150 years ago”.

Mr Walkley said: “We’ve got to be disruptive around diversity, because there’s an issue of under-representation.”

The Homes England chief then pointed to the make-up of the panel he was speaking on, which constituted four white men and one white woman, as an example of poor representation.

“Diversity is not just good but essential to deliver a better housing market for the whole of UK,” Mr Walkley said.

Mr Walkley later added that Homes England was currently working on a range of proposals to increase diversity.

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