The Future of Housing Associations
This week sees the Annual Conference of the National Housing Federation in Birmingham. The conference is being held against an almost unprecedented backdrop of change within the Housing Association market and some of the speeches and discussions promise to have significant impact for the future direction of the sector.
There are a number of key questions that the conference will seek to propose answers for. These include, how to financially account for the Government’s changes to rent policy, the proposals for introducing Right to Buy, and how to ensure that Housing Associations are able to continue to deliver accommodation for the most vulnerable.
The subject of how a Housing Association can continue to provide social rented properties against the commercial temptation of moving towards market rent is particularly interesting. The UK has plenty of private sector developers and property management companies, but by changing their focus, Housing Associations will create a vacuum behind them, with the supply of available social rent stock drying up. The consequences of this are uncertain, affected in the main by how far the Housing Associations decide to go.
The possibility exists that it may lead to Council’s having to resume their role as the principle supplier of Social Housing, something that was unthinkable just a few years ago. The level of investment required to do this would go against current Tory trends for cutbacks and, given the historical performance in this area, trusting the Council’s to deliver would be a real leap of faith.
While this week is unlikely to produce the answers to such broad questions, the insight and opinion will be varied, insightful and potentially controversial. It will certainly make for interesting reading.