We’re working with our members to drive the delivery which will help end the housing crisis – here are some of our key achievements in 2019.
Over the past year, we’ve built on our calls for new funding for social housing, which secured an extra £2bn for social rent under the previous government. We commissioned cutting-edge modelling to tell us, for the first time, how much investment is needed to fix the housing crisis for good. The resulting call – for £12.8bn a year over 10 years – has been endorsed by key partners, such as Crisis and Shelter, as well as by MPs from both sides of the house’ to ‘across Parliament.
Every quarter we also 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’ve also been working with you to understand the barriers to building more homes, so we can find ways to address these together. We’ve hosted roundtables with the Local Government Association to support you to build potential partnerships with local authorities and worked with you to understand the skills gap in development. We’ve continued to collaborate with Homes England on strategic partnerships and the future of affordable housing funding, while ensuring that some of the benefits of strategic partnerships are extended into the main Affordable Homes Programme.
We’ve been building on the success of our Commitment to Refer, a voluntary offer for housing associations to implement the referral duties of the Homelessness Reduction Act. There are now more than 200 housing associations signed up, and we’re exploring how the sector can work in partnership with local authorities to end homelessness.
Through this, and other pieces of work, we’re highlighting the important role that housing associations play in ending homelessness.
Following a series of roadshow events, we published a report together with the Local Government Association in October 2019 outlining practical ways housing associations and councils can better work together.
We continue to raise the profile of supported housing and the vital services it provides, through our media work and our annual Starts at Home campaign. Our analysis of national homelessness statistics revealed on the BBC News that new homeless families outnumber new social homes by 8 to 1. Many services have experienced reduced funding, so we’re calling on the government to ringfence £1.4bn for the support costs of supported housing.
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 is testing a new system to pay the housing element of Universal Credit directly to landlords at the same time that tenants receive their payment. We used our general election campaign to make several specific calls on the new government, including ending the benefits freeze. We backed this up with research revealing that the benefits freeze means payments don’t cover actual rents, pushing low-income families to the brink, which achieved widespread media coverage, including on Channel 4 news and the BBC. The government has since ended the Local Housing Allowance freeze, a decision that will benefit 900,000 people.
Over the past year, we’ve been working with our members, stakeholders and the government to develop a campaign that will boost the profile of this great product on a scale that’s never been done before.
By profiling the shared ownership brand, we’re shining a light on the great work housing associations do more generally – helping before build public awareness of our sector.