Politicians must work with BME communities to restore trust, says Bradford housing chief

A housing chief in Bradford has urged politicians not to ignore the needs of BME communities after the general election, if they want to rebuild trust in the political process.

The task will require them to fully involve people from BME communities – and remain true to their word on policy commitments, especially for housing – says Lee Bloomfield (pictured), chief executive of Manningham Housing Association (MHA).

“I accept that election campaigns are abrasive, but the past few weeks have been especially antagonistic,” Bloomfield said.

“Whatever the outcome on 12 December, it is surely incumbent upon the new Government to represent the interests of all communities and ministers must stick to their policy pledges.”

This is all the more important when it comes to housing, where he says BME communities still face “considerable disadvantage”.

“It remains the case that BME households are more likely to experience overcrowding, poorer quality housing and fuel poverty,” Bloomfield added. “It is also more common for BME families to live in the most deprived neighbourhoods and in rented properties rather than owning their homes.

“BME communities must have the same opportunity as everyone else to benefit from the exciting new world that the political parties claim they will deliver for voters.

“According to Ipsos MORI, only 53% of BME voters turned out at the 2017 general election with 64% of white voters choosing to do so. This should be seen by politicians as a chance to engage with BME voters and properly involve BME communities in rebuilding public trust in the political process.”

A new mission statement published by BME National, a collective of more than 45 BME housing associations, identifies four areas where Government action would improve the quality of life for BME citizens.

“Working with colleagues on the BME National Executive Group, a list of policy asks were drawn up under four headings – ageing well, ending homelessness, equality of opportunity, and thriving and diverse cities,” Bloomfield said.

“We also outlined precisely how BME housing associations could play an active part in helping the new Government to deliver these policies. It must be a two-way process and we are willing and certainly able to roll up our sleeves and get on with the job in genuine partnership.”

The party (or perhaps parties) that form the next government in the wake of the 12 December election must be prepared to take decision and address the challenges BME housing associations such as MHA face on a daily basis, Bloomfield says.

“The General Election must be a means to an end, not an end in itself,” he added. “Politicians must be true to their word and sincere about helping people. Only then will public trust return, particularly within BME communities.”



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