We’re working with our members to drive the delivery which will help end the housing crisis and improve people’s lives – here are some of our recent achievements.
After years of work to secure a new, larger Affordable Homes Programme for 2021-2026 we have been supporting members to understand and access the £11.5bn fund to deliver affordable homes of all tenures. The Programme includes funding for social rent as well as expectations around supported housing delivery, and a renewed commitment to using modern methods of construction (MMC).
We’ve also been working with our members and the government to understand changes to the shared ownership model and the launch of First Homes so that housing associations can deliver as many homes as possible. We are ready to support our members when the Planning Bill and details of the replacement to Section 106 are published.
In addition, every quarter we collate and share the sector’s supply figures through our supply survey. The high response rate means we can demonstrate the full extent of development in our sector – which is often underreported by other bodies.
We quickly reprioritised our work to ensure that housing associations were supported as the pandemic developed. This involved working closely with the government and other stakeholders on a range of urgent issues, from clarifying guidance for supported housing settings, to working with partners to prioritise testing and vaccine rollout. During the first lockdown, we ensured that housing association staff were listed as key workers so that key services could continue, and we produced a statement to showcase the sector’s public commitment to supporting residents affected by the crisis, which was covered in the press.
Our Communities Together campaign showcased housing associations’ work during the pandemic. Through a series of case studies, it shares the story of housing associations’ work with residents, partners, and communities in the fight against coronavirus. From finding homes for rough sleepers to helping people with financial worries.
We successfully made the case for all public-facing housing association staff to be part of the Phase 2 vaccination prioritisation process. We have also worked with the government to ensure a range of asymptomatic staff testing options are available to our members, as part of a strategy of infection control and maintaining frontline service delivery.
Throughout the crisis, we have kept our members informed through dedicated newsletters, briefings, and guidance. In particular, our webinar programme has provided bespoke updates for supported housing providers, smaller housing associations, and board members, to ensure that every part of our membership has been informed and connected through this incredibly challenging time.
We’ve been working closely with the Department for Work and Pensions to press for changes to Universal Credit that work for housing associations and residents. As a result of our influencing, the government last year introduced a new system to pay the housing element of Universal Credit directly to landlords at the same time that tenants receive their payment.
Prior to the pandemic, our research on the impact of the freeze in Local Housing Allowance (LHA) levels achieved widespread media coverage, including on Channel 4 News and the BBC. The government has since raised LHA rates – a decision that will benefit 900,000 people.
In 2020 we completed the largest survey of social housing residents in receipt of Universal Credit so that we have evidence to show how people have managed during the pandemic. We plan to repeat this research in 2021 as part of our ongoing work to mitigate the impact of welfare reform on residents and our members.
Supported by almost 50 organisations, in 2020 we successfully launched a national advertising campaign to raise awareness of shared ownership. This included the first ever national shared ownership website and portal, alongside a new brand and narrative.
The campaign ran across a wide range of platforms including social media, YouTube, outdoor advertising in key cities, and a partnership with The Guardian.
Following this successful start, the campaign is now being delivered by Keaze, and will continue to build the brand of shared ownership across the country.