By the time you read this, two things should have happened on 21st February.
The first is that the CofE Housing, Church and Community Commission should have published its final report. This commission was launched by Archbishop Justin Welby in April 2019 and has been re-imagining housing in our nation.
Covid-19 has highlighted and complicated UK housing problems. Lockdown has meant no escape for people who feel insecure, uncomfortable or isolated in their homes. Overcrowding has become a pressing virus transmission issue. Homeless people have been housed in hotels. Evictions were banned, mortgage holidays enforced, and work-from-home has encouraged people to move from the cities to the countryside.
But even before Covid it was clear that UK housing works much better for developers and owners of housing, than for people who do not own their own home. Certainly, I personally, have noticed the financial benefits of owning property. Over my working life, the houses that I have owned have increased in value by far, far more then any money I ever managed to save, even when I had a good salary! Government initiatives like help-to-buy have the effect of holding housing prices high. Similarly housing benefit (worth more than £20 Billion per annum) allows private landlords to charge higher rents than the market could otherwise support.
Justin Welby wants to see housing that is safe, stable, sustainable, sociable, and satisfying. However, it seems to me that affordable is the big issue in this locality. It is difficult to know how to address that. I am glad to be involved with the Lapworth Charity which makes low cost almshouses available and is seeking planning permission for smaller houses on the former scout hut site.
The second event of 21st February is an outdoor church service to mark the Revd Paul Cudby’s final Sunday as Vicar of Tanworth-in-Arden. Paul and his wife Ali are moving to Wooburn, Buckinghamshire, where Paul will be Vicar. Paul and Ali have been at Tanworth since 2006. Their steady presence has been a great help to me, especially when I first started here. Each year (including 2020!) we have run a Marriage Preparation day together at Tanworth. I have also appreciated the Celtic music they have played at Confirmations and other events, their interest in outdoor worship (“Forest Church”) and the annual Advent Sunday choral service. Our local cluster of churches will feel very different without them, and I hope God will grant them many blessings as they move to Wooburn. Let’s pray too for the Parish of Tanworth-in-Arden, which falls into vacancy at a difficult moment with Birmingham Diocese looking to manage with less clergy and facing big financial difficulties because of Covid
With prayers and best wishes, Fr Patrick
Prayer about Housing
Heavenly Father, whose Son Jesus Christ said, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head”;
we pray for the homeless, and for people who need better housing.
We pray that our society can make available housing that is affordable, desirable
and which allows households to flourish.
May our earthly housing prepare us for eternal life in your many rooms.
In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen. (c.f. Luke 9: 58 and John 14:2)