social housing and brexit

How has Brexit impacted social housing organisations?

With the transition period over and a UK/EU trade deal agreed, do we have a better understanding of how Brexit will affect the social housing sector? Has the sector’s historic uncertainty been replaced by a clearer picture of things to come? 

In our annual Health of the Sector survey, we asked 104 industry leaders about the impact of Brexit on their social housing organisations. 

Here’s what social housing leaders told us about Brexit’s impact on their sector. 

What effect will Brexit have on your organisation? 

What effect will Brexit have on your organisation?

In every survey since 2017, almost nobody has said Brexit will have a positive impact on their organisation. We weren’t surprised to find the sector still feels this way, but it is still quite incredible given that 52 per cent of the British electorate voted to leave the EU. 

This year, slightly fewer people think Brexit will have a negative effect on their organisation. But more than a third still don’t know what the effects will be, and we’ve seen a seven-percentage point increase in those saying Brexit won’t affect them at all. 

These findings took us by surprise. 

It’s been widely reported that pre-Brexit stockpiling of supplies and subsequent gridlock at UK ports are hampering the construction industry. This will undoubtedly affect social housing development programmes, so we expected to see more respondents predicting a negative effect in 2021. 

What are the key effects of Brexit to your organisation? 

What are the key effects of Brexit to your organisation?

What are the key effects of Brexit to your organisation?
What are the key effects of Brexit to your organisation?

It’s been widely reported that pre-Brexit stockpiling of supplies and subsequent gridlock at UK ports are hampering the construction industry. So it’s no surprise that access to, and cost of, materials remain the top Brexit worries. 

But we’ve seen some interesting changes since our last survey. 

There’s far less concern about a fall in market sales and shared ownership this year, and just over a third are concerned about labour shortages – down from almost two thirds since 2020. 

This fits with our anecdotal evidence that labour shortages haven’t really materialised. For general providers of rented accommodation, the availability of workers from other hard-hit sectors could be offsetting any Brexit-related labour supply issues.  

This may not be the case across the sector, however.  

In care homes for example, where EU nationals make up around seven per cent of the workforce, the new points-based immigration system will surely affect the supply of labour at some point – especially as care work has not met the Government’s definition of skilled. 

Contact us for support and advice

Keith Ward 

Our social housing specialists can help you and your board plan for, and work through, any difficulties caused by Brexit.

Contact Keith Ward, our Head of Social Housing, to discuss your challenges. 


Get more insight from our 2021 survey

Want to know more about how the social housing sector has fared over the last 12 months? Interested in what social housing organisations have got planned for the months ahead?

Read the next articles in this series for a snapshot of the health of the sector in 2021:

social housing regulation

What is the social housing sector’s view on government policy?
Policy plans and a new Code of Governance in England have been published. So how do social housing leaders feel about the regulatory landscape?

Read more

social housing governance

What governance challenges are social housing leaders facing in 2021?
See what social housing boards have got planned for staff salaries, pensions contributions, rent increases, and more.

Read more