The supply challenge – helping boards deliver

We recently published research revealing that more than 8 million people in England are directly affected by the broken housing market – that’s one in every seven people. It concluded that more than 300,000 new homes are needed each year to address the crisis, including 145,000 new social homes.

Clare Paredes, Head of Communications and Marketing

Clare Paredes, Head of Communications and Marketing

21 October 2019

Housing associations are committed to building these new homes. In 2018/19, our sector built 45,604 new homes – 27% of all new homes delivered in England. But this is a long way off the number of new homes we urgently need.

We know there are substantial external challenges that hold housing associations back. The price of land, economic uncertainty and the flattening housing market and, most critically, limited government grant all make building new social homes more difficult. Our modelling shows that we need £12.8bn government grant per year, in real terms, over the next decade to unlock a housebuilding programme worth on average £46.2bn.

Boards can help deliver

While we recognise that the single biggest action that would help us deliver is long-term serious Government investment, there are steps that we can take as a sector to deliver new homes – even without further investment or policy change.

We’ve been exploring these with our members since January through our sector-wide supply conversation, and one of the issues we’re considering is the role of boards in driving up supply.

Many ambitious housing associations have challenged themselves at executive and board level to stretch their capacity to build much needed new homes. Other boards are taking a more cautious approach, especially in the current uncertain climate. This is particularly relevant to organisations with less experience or history of development.

As board members, you’re experienced at managing risk in today’s complex financial environment. It’s perhaps not surprising that you might feel cautious about taking on new risk in order to build new homes, especially given your responsibility to safeguard your organisation’s stability and focus on other social priorities.

At the Federation, we want to support board members to think through the difficult decisions you need to make when considering whether to develop new homes. We’re putting together a programme of information and support to help you balance competing priorities and to give you the confidence to increase development.

These resources are highlighted in our latest Board Bulletin, our quarterly newsletter for housing association board members. You’ll find blogs from board members who’ve overcome challenges to develop new homes, advice from the Regulator and Homes England, and board member events dedicated to supply.

Our Board Excellence in Housing Conference on 6-7 February will have a strong focus on supply, including sessions on how to increase development, and how to operate in a world of uncertainty, volatility and complexity.

As board members, you have a crucial role to play in ensuring our sector delivers the homes we need. I’m looking forward to continuing the conversation with you.

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