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 and we will continue to feed into the government’s thinking on how the additional grant funding will be delivered. We are also engaging our members in a conversation with MHCLG on its proposal to fund remedial works to lower rise buildings via loans to freeholders, pointing out the impact on housing associations’ borrowing capacity if proposals go ahead as planned.
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’ll continue to call for government to coordinate these limited resources so that they are directed first at buildings that need them most.
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’re feeding into the government guidance on the roll out of the Fire Safety Act and we’re engaging with the Home Office on other upcoming changes to fire safety regulation following its fire safety consultation last year.
Finally, 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.
We’re working with our members to explore how we can work with partners to drive forward the decarbonisation of social housing at scale.
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.
In 2021, we launched a new project on decarbonisation, with the aim of helping our members create a roadmap to net-zero and to better understand the financial and policy landscape around this area of work.
We have convened a number of new member groups on sustainability to help us shape the decarbonisation project and also to steer the strategic direction of this agenda overall. We have been working closely with government on policy and funding, in particular shaping the first wave of the 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 threatened with homelessness. There are now more than 200 housing associations signed up. We are also highlighting other ways housing associations can prevent homelessness.
Through this and other work, we’re showcasing how the sector can work with local authorities and other partners to end homelessness. We have continued to work with the Local Government Association to develop resources and events that outline ways to collaborate. During the coronavirus pandemic, our Communities Together initiative showcased collaboration between our sector and others to rehouse rough sleepers and other people in urgent need of rehousing.
We have also been working with our members and other stakeholders to increase knowledge around housing associations’ role in delivering Housing First, a key part of which is partnership working.
Housing associations provide three quarters of all supported and sheltered housing. This provision transforms lives and people’s wellbeing, allowing individuals to live independently and with dignity.
We have worked with government to share supported housing providers’ experiences throughout the pandemic. We ensured that the government counted supported housing staff as key workers, and that the vaccination programme prioritised all forms of supported housing, both for residents and staff.
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.