Britain is in the midst of a housing crisis. It is a crisis which affects people’s material, physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing.
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Commission on Housing, Church and Community will seek to re-imagine housing policy, with a focus on building better communities and homes, not just houses. As well as making recommendations for Government and others, it will also look at what actions the Church can take, in partnership with others, to help tackle the crisis at local, regional and national level.
The Commission is chaired by Charlie Arbuthnot with the support of The Right Reverend Graham Tomlin, Bishop of Kensington.
The Grenfell Tower disaster of June 2017 in North Kensington became almost at once a symbol of our country’s housing crisis. It served as a stark reminder of how we have marginalised whole sections of the population in sub-standard housing, but also brought to the surface the resilience and power of local communities in responding to this tragic event.
Most of us are affected in some way by the housing crisis. Indeed, we are seeing mounting problems, from unaffordable rents and insecure tenancies to poor quality housing and gross inequalities in housing wealth. But as is too often the case, it is the poorest who bear the brunt.
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says that judgment is linked to justice, namely, in the way in which we treat those who are most vulnerable and weakest. Out of that extraordinary passage comes the Christian call to work for the welfare of everyone in our society, including shelter and a good home for all.
The Church – working with other public, private and voluntary organisations that share this vision – has a significant contribution to make in this area. We have land and resources that can be used to help meet the need for more affordable housing. We have social capital that can be used to uphold people’s right to a decent and secure home. We have a long history and expertise in community-building that can be used to shape new developments where people can flourish.
Responding to the housing crisis
Charlie Arbuthnot worked in investment banking in the City from 1978 until 2008. During this time, he opened up various new markets including the market for private finance for housing associations and advised Her Majesty’s Government on introducing private finance to the social housing sector.In 2008, he left to set up his own business and became a self-employed financial advisor to housing associations. This has allowed him to focus on a wider remit covering both financial advice to housing associations and strategic advice around building community and inter-connecting relevant stakeholders with a view to community transformation.
Charlie also sat on the main board of The Housing Finance Corporation (2008-2018) and was the Chair of THFC's Credit Committee (2014-2018). He is married with three children and four grandchildren, and lives in Sussex. His pro bono roles include work with the London Borough of Wandsworth on faith and community, hate crime and elderly outreach, mentoring various individuals and several small emerging businesses, and chairing his church’s strategy team. Charlie’s other interests include family, walking, running and painting.