We’re working with our members to promote great quality to ensure homes are safe, more sustainable, and support people to live independently. Here are some of our recent achievements.
We’ve called for the support our members need to make buildings safe now, pressing the government to fund safety remediation work and address other issues that create challenges for housing associations in carrying out vital remediation works. We ensured that housing associations would be able to access the £1bn Building Safety Fund for their leaseholders’ share of remedial works costs.
We welcomed the additional £3.5bn of funding that the government has made available for remedial works, but we’re continuing to call for all remedial works to be funded and have generated media coverage to support this call. We will continue to raise the impact on social housing tenants of their housing association landlord having only limited access to government funds. However, we are also feeding into the government’s thinking on how the additional grant funding will be delivered, as well as its proposal to fund remedial works to lower rise buildings via loans to freeholders.
We’ve worked closely with the government and industry around the impact on leaseholders of having to wait many years for an External Wall System (EWS1) form to support their, or their buyer’s, mortgage application, given that the demand for these outstrips the capacity of professionals needed to complete them. We’re now highlighting the scale and complexity of remediation needed, particularly among lower rise buildings, as well as the likely timeframes for this work.
We’re also working with our members to shape the building safety system of the future. We contributed to the pre-legislative scrutiny process for the Building Safety Bill and are maintaining dialogue with the government as it redrafts the legislation. We have submitted a sector response to the fire safety consultation and we’re feeding into the government guidance on the roll out of the Fire Safety Bill.
As part of our wider work on culture change, we’ve worked with cross-industry groups to design a new competency framework. This will help housing associations take proactive steps to define and understand the skills, training and experience requirements for the new regulatory regime. We’ve also signed up to the Building a Safer Future Charter and are encouraging our members to consider doing the same, to help assess and benchmark approaches to safety.
Finally, through our media work we have continued to shine the spotlight on building safety, appearing in the Guardian, Newsnight, Panorama and the Mail Online with our calls for the government to support those affected by the cladding crisis.
We’re working with our members to explore how we can work with partners to drive forward the decarbonisation of social housing at scale.
Our first step has been calling on the government to provide policy certainty, set ambitious standards and targets, and deliver funding. So far we have secured £60m of additional funding for 2021/22 to support retrofit in the social housing sector.
We are also working to understand the challenges our sector faces. In 2020, we published new research on the major barriers and obstacles to retrofit, which has been used to support our calls for a £3.8bn 10-year Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund.
We’re working with our members and partners to highlight the important role that housing associations play in ending homelessness.
We’ve built on the success of our Commitment to Refer, a voluntary housing association commitment we developed with MHCLG to support the Homelessness Reduction Act by referring residents to a local authority if they are homeless or threatened with homelessness. There are now more than 200 housing associations signed up. We are also highlighting other ways housing associations can help people sustain tenancies and prevent homelessness.
Through this, and other pieces of work, we’re showcasing how the sector can work in partnership with local authorities and others to end homelessness. We have continued to work with the Local Government Association to develop resources and events that outline practical ways to collaborate. And during the coronavirus pandemic we highlighted partnership working through our Communities Together initiative, which showcased the amazing collaboration between our sector and others to rehouse rough sleepers and other people in urgent need for rehousing.
We have also been working with our members and partners to improve the knowledge base around housing associations’ role in delivering Housing First to end homelessness, a key part of which is partnership working.
We also continue to raise the profile of supported housing and the vital services it provides through our media work, ongoing engagement with MHCLG, and Starts at Home day. Many services have experienced reduced funding and have had to deal with the strain of the pandemic, so we’ve been calling on the government to ringfence £1.6bn for the support costs of supported housing.