16 March 2022
The long-term direction for the sector provided by the Scottish government under the Housing to 2040 Vision has resulted in greater certainty and more confidence in current social housing policy: 81 per cent of respondents feel positive about the direction of travel in Scotland.
Encouragingly, only 13 per cent of respondents plan to build fewer homes than they did last year, and 45 per cent actually plan to build more, although delivery of homes will be dependent on the speed at which they can be completed when faced with the challenges presented by the availability of materials and skilled labour.
How do you feel about the direction of travel from the current government in relation to social housing policy?
With plans to deliver 110,000 affordable homes over the next decade as part of the Housing to 2040 strategy, what are your development plans?
Building safety standards
Building safety reform has one objective: saving lives. The UK and Scottish governments are travelling along different routes to this destination. The plan in Scotland is to focus on ‘reshaping’ the existing building standards system, while in England the focus is on fundamentally changing it through the Building Safety Act.
England and Wales
Back in 2021, two thirds of our Health of the Sector respondents in England and Wales believed that the Building Safety Act would achieve its aim – although almost a third were unsure as to how effective it would be.
Perhaps Judith Hackitt can take some pride in the fact that, after the release of her report ‘Building a Safer Future’, social housing organisations moved quickly to adopt its recommendations and so were already well ahead on compliance with the Building Safety Act when it took effect.
The sector has had to make some tough choices as it plans funding its compliance, however. In the absence of a cash injection from central government, and in the face of escalating construction costs, 84 per cent of our respondents plan simply to divert money that would otherwise have been spent on much-needed new homes and the essential maintenance of existing stock.
According to a report from Legal & General and the British Property Foundation, the sector needs to find £34bn each year to fund a 95,000-a-year shortfall in affordable homes.
How much of your total spend will be diverted to fund the requirements of the Building Safety Act?
The responses demonstrate a clear objective to develop new homes but tempered by the increasing challenge of where to allocate scarce funding resources in responds to multiple demands.
This redirection of funds will inevitably leave gaps elsewhere, perhaps reflected in responses we received when we asked about strategic planning for the year ahead. ‘Further cost savings’ were a priority for 65 per cent of our sector leaders in England and Wales, and for 45 per cent of Scotland’s sector leaders. As housing associations are not yet being presented with an alternative to self-funding for remedial building works, it’s unsurprising that constructing new homes may be scaled down the priority list for the foreseeable future.
The Social Housing Regulation Policy Bill is imminent, and Kate Dodsworth was recently appointed as the new Director of Consumer Regulation at the Regulator of Social Housing.
This is particularly significant to our new question for respondents in England and Wales, about the reliability of their data capture and reporting systems in terms of providing evidence of compliance with the Consumer Regulation Standards. Data will be essential to track when housing stock requires maintenance, for example, and to recording when and how resident complaints are resolved.
Get more insight from our 2022 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 2022 below.
Contact us for support and advice
Our social housing specialists can help you understand the impact of government regulation and policy, and plan the right way forward for your organisation and tenants.
Contact Keith Ward, our Head of Social Housing, to discuss your challenges.