OUR VIEWS ON LIVING IN SUFFOLK … WE LOVE IT!

Financial concerns and the lack of affordable housing are two major factors preventing Suffolk residents from moving house, according to the recently published ressults of a major housing survey. However the key finding is that:

the vast majority of us – nearly nine out of ten – enjoy living in Suffolk – no surprises there!

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The analysis of responses to the survey conducted inMarch/April  and paves the way for housing officers to forecast and act on the county’s housing needs for years to come. The first countywide housing survey, commissioned by Suffolk’s Strategic Housing Partnership, and independently validated by University Campus Suffolk, paints a compelling picture of what matters to people about where they live and their intentions for the future. It marks a first for Suffolk, with the county council and all seven district and borough councils joining forces to conduct a single countywide survey, providing a comprehensive overview of the housing needs for Suffolk.

Of the 82,000 households to be sent  a survey, approximately 14,250 residents completed it, surpassing the target 15% response rate.

 Key findings include:

  •  A resounding 87% of respondents ‘love to live in Suffolk’ and nine out of 10 households intend to continue to make their home here

  • 60% of respondents have lived in Suffolk for over five years

  • The main barriers preventing a house move in future are financial considerations, not being able to find the right property and the lack of affordable housing

Ian Blofield, Chairman of Suffolk Strategic Housing Partnership says, “This is a landmark moment for Suffolk as we now have an invaluable snapshot of people’s views about living here, and their intentions for the future. This tells us where we need to collectively focus our efforts to deliver the type of housing that people need, and that will provide the greatest benefit, both to our local economy, but also to people’s health and wellbeing.”

There are currently just over 329,000 properties in Suffolk – a figure which has grown by about 30,000 in the past decade. New homes are currently being built at a rate of 1,900 a year.

With projected increases to the population in coming years – especially amongst the over 65s, who currently number one in five of Suffolk’s residents, and will be increasing to over 25% by 2031 – getting the right housing balance is more important than ever.

My colleague, Councillor Alan Murray, Chairman of Suffolk’s Health and Wellbeing Board, say, “As a county, we face challenges at both ends of the age spectrum: older people living alone in big houses which are not always fit to meet their needs, and younger adults wanting to move out of the family home in need of independence, but priced out of the market.

“That’s why we are working with the housing sector, public and voluntary sector partners to address the issue now, therefore avoiding a crisis in the years ahead. These figures support our actions and highlight why it’s so important that we take action on this issue. They also set a clear indicator to housing developers about the housing that people will need in future.” Although it is a legal requirement for district and borough councils to carry out regular assessments for housing in their area, this is the first time they have collaborated on a single survey. This comprised not only traditional questions but also contained sections addressing wider links between housing and people’s health, including social care, health and finances. Each local council will now study and interpret the data for their area.