William Eichler 05 November 2018

Housing association model of delivering social housing ‘not working’

The policy of relying on housing associations rather than councils to deliver social housing is ‘not working’, procurement specialist says.

A study by the public sector procurement specialist Scape Group has found the average council in England would like to build 1,800 homes for social rent every year.

However, it learnt that most councillors only expect to build up to 1,000 homes over the next decade.

Scape polled 50 senior managers and decision-makers within local authorities in England and found that almost two-thirds (65%) were ‘very concerned’ about the provision of social rented housing in their area.

This rose to 75% in the south, including London.

Scape Group also warned that the Government’s policy of relying on housing associations to deliver social homes was not working.

Their research found that in 2017/18 housing associations completed just 4,500 homes for social rent. This was down from 5,464, which represents a nearly 20% decrease.

Mark Robinson, Scape Group chief executive, argued that relying on housing associations was ‘not working’ and said councils needed to be given more power to build affordable housing.

‘Councils have not been allowed to hold the required level of responsibility, or had the funding, to build homes for social rent for years,’ he said.

‘It has all been down to housing associations who, with the best will in the world, have not been building homes for social rent to the scale the country needs. The current model is not working.’

Acknowledging Whitehall has lifted the Housing Revenue Account cap, which means that councils are now able to borrow against their assets to fund new developments, he continued: ‘It seems that the Government has finally recognised that local councils need to contribute towards meeting housing targets, but it will take years to turn back the clock on decades of undersupply.’

‘In 2018, local authorities will be contributing just tens of thousands of new homes; in 1977, councils built 121,000 homes,’ he added.

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