23 January 2020
In September 2019 we published a briefing for housing associations to help them prepare for Brexit, focusing on the No Deal scenario, based on the government’s then recently published Operation Yellowhammer document.
This article provides an update following this briefing, taking into account the now very different political environment. It covers:
Following the general election last year, Prime Minister Johnson stated that there was now a mandate to take the UK out of the EU in January, “no ifs, no buts”.
The Withdrawal Agreement Bill passed its second reading in the House of Commons with a majority of 124 votes before Christmas, and is on track to complete its passage through both houses in time to allow exit from the European Union at the end of January 2020.
Assuming the remaining stages press ahead as planned by the government, the transition period will then begin, with the UK remaining in the customs union and single market for the duration of that period. If by 31 December the UK and the EU have negotiated a free trade deal, the transition will end and the new relationship will begin.
The No Deal scenario, though delayed, would still be possible if, by this point, the UK and EU have not reached a trade deal – the UK may have to then trade on WTO terms.
We’ve worked with our members to map the possible longer term impacts of Brexit on housing associations, detailed in previous briefings. The main issues identified were:
Below we set out some of the key things that housing associations can be doing during the transition period to manage important issues.
Housing associations are united by an ambition to deliver good quality, affordable homes for everyone. They are uniquely positioned to keep doing this, with the right support from the government, whatever the final outcome of the Brexit process.
However, the continuing uncertainty makes the operating environment for housing associations more difficult. We’re being clear about this in our conversations with the government and making the case for as much certainty as possible over investment and support.
We will continue to work with members and the government on the areas we have recognised as crucial to the post-Brexit transition period: funding (particularly the Shared Prosperity Fund), construction skills, and care skills.
We will continue to make the case that solving the housing crisis must remain a priority for the new government, and that supporting housing associations remains one of the best ways to deliver the new homes and strong communities needed, whatever the outcome of the Brexit trade deal negotiations.