Resolving the housing crisis: our moment of opportunity
July 12, 2018
This month has seen the launch of a number of thought-provoking publications across the breadth of the housing agenda. The new contribution from Onward offers a refreshingly disruptive 10 point plan to address issues of both supply and demand in the UK housing market. Meanwhile the plan produced by Crisis to end homelessness, among many other things, identifies the need to build over 100,000 social and affordable homes each year for the next 15 years.
The Future Shape of the Sector Commission also released its report, Building Homes, Building Trust: The unique role of housing associations in responding to the housing and social challenges of the 2020s, last week. This is the culmination of its work over the last nine months, to explore the role of housing associations in helping to resolve the housing crisis.
These are all highly welcome contributions to the discussion on housing, the key domestic policy issue of today. Given our wealth of experience in the sector, we took the opportunity to contribute our thoughts to the Commission report as well as to support the Crisis work with some economic analysis.
In 2017 we published our views on how housing associations could prioritise and align strategies and resources to make a meaningful contribution to resolving the housing challenge, and in particular in the delivery of social housing. In launching our paper, Growth, Place or People, we said:
“The crisis in the supply of housing in the UK, particularly those who are most vulnerable or in need, is now a national infrastructure challenge of 25 years making. Rising to this challenge requires organisations with capability, capacity and clarity of purpose.
“We’ve identified three distinct roles that housing associations must play:
- they must build homes
- they must work within communities to shape and regenerate places
- they must provide the critical services that enable people to thrive.
Each role is critically important but that doesn’t mean that every housing association has to fulfil them all.”
It is encouraging to see that our ideas, along with those of other passionate contributors, have been picked up by the Commission and are reflected in the key findings.
There is also a core focus on robust governance and transparency of purpose. This further supports what we are seeing in the work we do with our clients across the UK and the important ways individual associations are rising to meet the needs of their customers and the sector at large.
There is much food for thought in these recent reports, and they are well worth a read. The trick though, as we’ve said previously, is that we can’t still be having this conversation in another 25 years. So while the political and collective will is aligned to resolving the housing crisis, how can the sector recognise and seize this ‘crucial moment of opportunity’?