Latest Public Sector News

21.11.16

Almost all social housing providers want change in housing policy, survey finds

A survey of social housing providers found that almost all of them believe that the government’s housing policy needs to be improved, a new report has found.

The new report, from the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH), Solace and Civica, conducted independent research into over 100 housing providers and found that 94% believe that current policies – such as the extension of Right to Buy – leave them and communities at risk.

Of those surveyed, 65% of social housing providers believe that central housing policy should focus on a broader range of tenures beyond home ownership, such as building new homes. Over the next 12 months, over half of these providers will be focused on safeguarding jobs (59%), cutting costs (57%), improving customer service (57%) and dealing with changing regulations and reforms (52%).

Terrie Alafat, chief executive for the CIH, commented: “The current policy and political environment make this a pivotal time for social housing.

“The government has promised to build more homes of all tenures that everyone can afford and this research very clearly highlights there is a consensus that this is what we need.”

Housing associates have been largely protected from change as they straddle both the public and private sectors. However, they have recently been hit by the introduction of Universal Credit (UC), the extension of Right to Buy and a lack of involvement with devolution, making it harder for them to plan without guaranteed revenue.

It is estimated by the Institute for Fiscal Studies that the 1% rent cut policy will reduce rental income by £2.5bn by 2020, leading to almost half (49%) of providers wanting to see it reduced or scrapped altogether. Around 42% also want the government to revisit their decision to cut welfare due to the cost of supporting tenants on UC compared to tenants on legacy benefits.

The report found that in order to survive, social housing providers are considering merging together in order to grow, collaborating with outside organisations such as private funders and central government organisations, and commercialising their services to develop new income streams.

It also highlighted the increasingly urgent issues facing social housing as the population in the UK continues to age substantially.

By 2027, for example, it is estimated that there will be an additional 5.8 million elderly people, with one-twelfth of the population projected to be aged 80 or over by 2039.

(Image c. Telford and Wrekin Council)

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