A new Government and an opportunity to build a new relationship with housing associations

5 July 2024
3 mins

Today the country welcomes the first Labour Government for 14 years, and we hope this is an opportunity to build a new relationship between housing associations and the Government and encourage engagement with the National Housing Federations #PlanForHousing.

Throughout the pre-election process, we heard from all parties how important housing was if they were to win. While this level of acknowledgment has been good to hear, what we did not hear was how they would enable this. Now that we have an elected Government, it is critical that they work with the Social Housing sector to understand the challenges and opportunities we face.

As a sector, we have been committed to building much-needed housing across the many past Governments. We have built between 25% and 30% of all new homes each year, funding this with £4 of our own money for every £1 we receive in grants. We have done this while absorbing the changes in Regulation, Legislation, and policy that have accompanied this for decades. We are agnostic about what is happening in the open market and will keep building the much-needed new homes within our communities.

We have seen the sector absorbing more and more financial stress as the obligations have increased and the income levels decreased. However, we contribute £79Bn a year to the economy by keeping our residents in permanent homes and enabling healthier and more stable lives.

We have the skills and expertise to deliver, and for some time we have been campaigning for a long-term plan for housing to give us the certainty to invest in the long-term requirements of building sub-market rental homes, as well as the growing burden of decarbonising the 4million homes that already exist.

We are willing partners, but we need to be treated as partners in earnest, and they must support our needs to enable delivery. 

My greatest fear throughout the pre-election period has been that in the game of chasing numbers, any incoming Government will lose sight of the futureproofing and place-making that must go alongside just building houses if we are to build communities that will be future places where people can live positive, healthy and vibrant lives.

I truly hope that our new Government is willing to work with us to enable us to build not only houses but places our residents will be proud to call home. We always consider the long-term impact on our homes and communities, and this must be the lens the incoming Government looks through for delivering more homes.

The other critical area is to reduce the carbon footprint and energy consumption of our existing homes, which is an enormous feat and cost to achieve. Clarity on future government support and reduced VAT on the works needed to achieve this will not only enable us to improve the lives of some of our society's most vulnerable but will also motivate the growth in the supply chain needed for all homeowners to achieve the same end goal. This is a national and even global imperative, and we can be the first part of making this change happen.

I truly hope our new Government sees the depth of capability, willingness, and expertise they can tap into by simply opening the conversation with us as a key stakeholder to a more powerful future for housing.