Building trust

We’re working with our members to build trust with tenants, partners, the public, policymakers and regulators. Here are some of our recent achievements.

Using our networks and influence to build relationships

We build trust and improve the understanding of our sector among politicians and civil servants, strengthening our sector’s reputation and shaping a political environment that delivers for our members and their residents.

Over the past year, we have met regularly with the ministerial team at MHCLG, including the Secretary of State, Minister for Housing, and the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Housing and Rough Sleeping.

We regularly give evidence to high profile select committees on issues ranging from building safety, the supply of social housing and Universal Credit. Alongside this, we continue to meet with senior officials at MHCLG and numerous other officials across government. We continually have high levels of Parliamentary engagement – meeting with MPs and Peers – including recently meeting with the new Shadow Secretary of State for Housing.

We worked with the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee to reopen their inquiry on cladding remediation, leading to a final report in April 2021 that echoed our call for the Building Safety Fund to cover the remediation of social homes. We briefed most English MPs ahead of the Second Reading of the Building Safety Bill and many MPs raised the importance of ensuring social housing providers are considered as part of the Bill.

Going forward we are focusing on working with MPs and Ministers ahead of the Spending Review in autumn 2021, and highlighting our work on sustainability, building safety and supported housing.

“Following our work, many MPs have raised the importance of considering the needs of social housing providers as part of the Building Safety Bill."

Telling the story of housing associations

We continue to raise the profile of social housing and the positive role it plays in society against the backdrop of one of the most crowded and challenging media contexts ever seen.

In 2020, we positioned social housing as a vital part of the country’s short- and long-term recovery, launching the Homes at the Heart campaign that was covered extensively across national media including Channel 4, The Sun, LBC and more.

Our People in Housing Need report, which showed that the real social housing waiting list reached 3.8 million people, was published in The Times, including in Rachel Sylvester’s column and as a broadcast exclusive on BBC Radio 4, BBC News at 10 and the Today programme. The accompanying BBC Online article was the most viewed story that day.

In 2021 we’ve continued to raise awareness of the impact of the building safety crisis on social housing landlords and their residents. Our YouGov poll, revealing that two thirds of MP’s believe that the government should pay for all building safety costs upfront, was published exclusively in The Sunday Times, and The Guardian published our figures showing that twelve of the biggest housing associations have spent £2.9m on building safety to date. In addition, BBC You and Yours broadcast an interview with our chief executive discussing our research on the impact of EWS1, and Clive Betts MP, Chair of the Housing Select Committee, authored a comment piece on our behalf for The Times Red Box, arguing that social housing must not be forgotten.

We also ensured that our sector had visibility on a flurry of policy announcements – our responses to the Planning White Paper, the Affordable Homes Programme, the Social Housing White Paper and the spending review appeared everywhere from the Financial Times and Channel 4, to the Times and the Guardian.

"Our People in Housing Need report was published as a broadcast exclusive on BBC Radio 4, BBC News at 10 and the Today programme. The accompanying BBC Online article was the most viewed story that day”."

Leading a new approach to working with residents

Through our Together with Tenants initiative, we’ve worked to build stronger relationships between residents and housing association landlords through a four-point plan for change. A key component of the plan involves housing associations adopting a charter, which sets out in clear terms what residents can and should expect from their landlord, including increased board accountability to residents.

Following a national rollout in 2021, the Together with Tenants plan has now been formally adopted by 187 housing associations covering more than two million homes.

Through this work, we’ve supported our members to deliver many of the commitments set out in the Social Housing White Paper in advance of any legislation or new regulation being brought forward.

This work is being guided by our Member Steering Group and Tenant Advisory Panel, which we convened in 2019 to critique and shape Together with Tenants.

"80% of the homes owned and run by our members are now covered by the Together with Tenants programme and charter."

Showing leadership to drive action on equality, diversity and inclusion

In 2019 we established our first ever diversity, equality and inclusion (EDI) member group. The group has worked with us to take forward our diversity agenda, including promoting a sector-wide shift in culture and delivering more inclusive workplaces.

As a starting point, in 2020 we launched a comprehensive insight report on EDI in housing association staff in England. This report is helping housing providers understand where we currently are as a sector. Alongside this, we published our new Code of Governance, which has increased requirements for housing association boards on EDI. We’re also sharing best practice from across the sector by adding to our library of case studies for housing associations to be able to learn from one another.

Our insight report addressed EDI data gaps across our sector. In response to this, in April 2021 our in-house Research team created a new EDI data tool. This tool enables housing associations to compare workforces to the communities they serve, and we’re inviting housing associations to volunteer their completed data tools to be part of a sector-wide benchmarking exercise. This will allow us to create targeted EDI actions and track progress over time.

On top of this, we’ve run several virtual meetings, bringing together over 120 sector leaders who are committed to improving EDI in our workplaces. We have since created two new national networks – one for CEOs to explore the role of a leader in creating an inclusive workplace culture, and one for operational leads to be able to network, compare top tips and explore some of the complex challenges they may be facing.

"Our insight report marks the start of our sector-wide work on EDI focused on culture. It won’t happen overnight, but we are committed to making long-term change."