The new ‘normal’ – how can we prepare for an unpredictable future?

The National Housing Federation’s Annual Conference is housing’s essential event. It helps us define and understand the now, sets the tone for the coming year and inspires us to invent the future.

Simon Nunn is Executive Director of Member Services at the National Housing Federation

Simon Nunn is Executive Director of Member Services at the National Housing Federation

17 July 2017

2015 felt like a turning point for our sector. As Secretary of State, Greg Clark, attended our Annual Conference, we waited for the Government’s response to the voluntary Right to Buy deal, and found our relationship with the Government on a new footing. This year, we welcome Sajid Javid MP to discuss how we fix a broken housing market.

In 2015, no one could have predicted where we find ourselves today. If they had, no one else would have believed them. As this year’s conference approaches, we’re leaving the European Union, David Cameron and George Osbourne are long gone, and the Conservatives have lost their majority. The Labour Party, with a radical manifesto and under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, is ahead in the polls and would have a real chance of forming a government if an election was held now.

The terrible tragedy at Grenfell Tower has affected us all too. Whilst individual housing associations work to keep their tenants safe and reassured, and we all seek to learn the lessons, Grenfell has engendered a wider debate about the role of social housing, poverty and division in our society. No doubt this will be a recurring theme at this year’s conference and many more to come. Housing associations should be at the forefront of that debate.

We’re not going to see a return to ‘normal’ any time soon. Uncertainty and change are a permanent feature of the times we live in. The challenge is to stay clear-sighted and keep an eye on the long term. That’s why our Ambition to Deliver – created with our members – committed us to delivering the homes and specialist services this country needs, no matter the uncertain political climate. The more that Government wants to work in partnership with us, the more we can deliver. When Government introduces measures like the changes to supported housing funding that make our mission harder, we will challenge them. 

Housing associations don’t operate as islands. No matter what they do or where they are, they face similar challenges. They are all seeking innovative ways to deliver better services and value for money and play a vital role in society and in communities.

So it’s more important than ever to come together to inspire, challenge and learn from each other to achieve our mission and ambition. We must broaden our horizons and learn from others outside our sector, like David Anderson from Rightmove, and Javier Buron from Barcelona City Council. 

Annual Conference helps us to be the creators of our own future. Be there.

Early bird ticket sales for the Annual Conference end at 5pm on Friday 21 July. Reserve your place now.

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