2021 proved to be another big year for social housing. There was a Bill introduced on the new building safety regulatory regime, proposed changes to the planning process, and the Social Housing White Paper continued to move forward. Then of course we gained a new Secretary of State in Michael Gove and MHCLG was given new focus and responsibilities, becoming the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC). We were one of the first organisations to meet Michael Gove to hear about these changes directly, and we’ve since built relationships with new staff across DLUHC.
Housing was firmly on the government’s radar, and we made the most of the opportunities this presented to advocate and champion housing associations across the year. Working alongside our members, we were successful in securing additional funding for building safety, decarbonisation, supported housing and building new homes.
Some of my personal 2021 highlights included the progress of our decarbonisation work developed in partnership with our members, which has not only produced a new decarbonisation guide for housing associations, it has also positioned us as a credible and authoritative voice on one of the nation’s most critical issues. It was also brilliant to end the year with the publication of our equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) report, which uses our members’ data to compile the first-ever national picture of EDI in England’s housing association workforce.
We ended the year with the brilliant news that member satisfaction with the NHF has increased by 5% over the last year. Having expanded our member networks, groups and events, it felt like we were more connected with our members than ever in 2021, so it was great to see this brilliant result and one we’re committed to building upon.
Overall, the year was defined by our collective impact – working closely with our members to create positive change that will benefit people across the country.
Looking ahead, 2022 is already shaping up to be just as busy as 2021. A lot can happen in a year, but some of the key things to expect are:
Our mission at the NHF is to understand and anticipate the critical issues affecting the social housing sector. That involves responding to policy landscape such as the five points above, but it also involves being proactive and shaping the landscape ourselves.
That has been the central aim of our strategic review, which we started last year and has focused on how the external environment for social housing may change over the next ten years – and how best to prepare.
We’ve been speaking to our members, stakeholders and residents to shape this review, and plan to share our findings soon. These findings will inform our new business strategy ready for April 2022, and shape our work for years to come.
This will enable us, and our sector, to get out ahead on the front foot, making sure we can stay relevant and resilient whatever the future holds. Not just in 2022, but in years to come.