The British economy took some time to get moving again after the financial crisis, but it has now grown in every quarter since the start of 2013. The number of people with jobs across the country is at an all-time high and current unemployment rates are low. The economic outlook is, on the whole, positive, but this is not a view shared by many RPs across the country.
58 per cent of respondents in our latest survey think we are still operating in a recessionary environment. This figure has remained largely the same over the last two years (59 per cent in 2015 and 60 per cent in 2014), and the feel good factor felt by many within the commercial sector, is not reciprocated by large factions of those working within social housing.
During the recession the social housing sector performed well and housing association services were in high demand. When the country was struggling financially, RPs across the country were reporting record surpluses year on year. The sector had to implement cost saving measures like everybody else, but they were, in most cases, able to safeguard their tenant services and able to continue to build new homes.
What we’re seeing now is almost a complete reversal of the commercial sector. Whilst the country is out of recession, the social housing sector has come under increased scrutiny. Future rent cuts, welfare reforms and other regulatory changes are pushing the sector into implementing further cost saving measures. It’s not surprising then that the sector feels like they are operating in a tough environment, and the fact that 75 per cent of respondents think full economic recovery will take at least two years to materialise, is just reflective of the current feeling within the sector (76 per cent in 2015).