Investing in homes to drive the coronavirus recovery

The coronavirus crisis has had a signficant effect on housing associations' business plans for this year, particularly in terms of investing in new and existing homes. Through our coronavirus recovery planning work, we've been calling on the government to take action to provide confidence for business planning.

Our Homes in the Heart campaign is calling for housing to be at the centre of recovery. We're calling for government funding to help housing associations play a vital role in stimulating local economic growth and social recovery by investing in new and existing homes.

Housing associations had planned to invest over £19bn in new and existing homes during 2020 – around 1% of England’s GDP. The coronavirus crisis has undoubtedly put this investment at risk.

We know that many housing associations are revisiting their business plans now, in light of the current crisis, and may be cautious given the current uncertainty, and mindful of their first duty to safeguard services for existing residents.

Therefore we have been calling for government action to give confidence around business planning by:

  • Ensuring stability in short-term development, for example by providing flexibility over the timing and tenure of grant funding for existing schemes.
  • Setting out a ten-year, ambitious commitment to affordable housebuilding to provide certainty and enable investment for the long term.
  • Ensuring the existing 2020-2025 policy statement on rent setting in social housing remains unaltered.
  • Making housing associations eligible for funding to remediate non-ACM cladding.
  • Establishing a social housing decarbonisation fund to support decarbonisation work in the medium term.

Over the last few weeks we have been pleased to see the government recognise many of the arguments we have been making – for example:

  • For flexibility over timing of the existing Affordable Homes Programme.
  • To adopt a First Homes pilot to evaluate the policy before rolling out more widely.
  • To review the management of public land.

However, there is lot more still to do and we’ll continue to call for a once-in-a-generation investment in social housing to put homes at the heart of recovery.