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Bromford, welfare reforms and the other king’s speech

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Welfare reforms are being hailed by the chief executive of Bromford as an opportunity for the sector to help people tackle the underlying problems of worklessness.

Social landlords can also seize the opportunity to help those people to make positive choices about their future, argues Mick Kent.

His positive take on what many describe as the biggest shake-up to the welfare system in 60 years is published in Inside Housing magazine (opens new window) (Friday, May 20).

In a 600-word opinion piece, Mick refers to what he describes as "the other king's speech" - quoting King George VI, the wartime monarch portrayed in the Oscar-winning movie of the same name, in a way that highlights the need for social landlords to become agents of change.

The Bromford CEO says: "Is it right to assume that benefit claimants are passive recipients rather than individuals who, with the right support and public policy, can overcome adversity and make positive choices?
"In his other speeches, King George VI spoke passionately about his hope that the qualities shown during the hardships of war - "enterprise, skill, persistence and above all service" - would be taken up by future generations. Programmes were introduced to help young people in peacetime escape their background and limitations to discover self-reliance and initiative in the hope of fostering those qualities."

Where are those programmes today, asks Mick, an active housing sector lobbyist who draws on more than 25 years of experience as CEO at Bromford, and is this where HAs come in?

"HAs house the most vulnerable and economically inactive people within the UK...and this puts us in the position of being able to reach out and support those who need it most," he tells Inside Housing.

"Now, more than ever, we need to fully understand our customers and their circumstances so that we can become better agents of change, targeting advice and support programmes to raise the skills and aspirations of customers, and to ensure we invest in those that need it most.

"Whether we like it or not, the reality is that the principle of reform, if not the detail, is likely to be pushed through and HAs have to decide whether we want to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem."