There should be no doubt we are in a housing crisis and that the shortage of homes in England is acute. The ramifications are both social and economic. We need to be building many more homes than we currently do, at least double the 115,000 homes built in 2014 and even more to make inroads into the backlog of homes we’ve not been building for a generation.
Housing associations are already a key part of the solution to the housing supply issues, they accounted for approximately half of the new homes built during the recession period. They deliver nearly all of the 45,000 to 50,000 social homes built each year. Yet dealing with the housing crisis and even bringing down the waiting lists will not be achieved by increasing social house building levels alone. We need to dramatically ramp up the number of market homes built and this is where housing associations could make a real difference. In short we need everyone; the major commercial developers, housing associations, and smaller builders to do their bit.
Despite the successes, housing associations need a shot in the arm. Associations can achieve even more if it was unshackled from excessive financial and regulatory constraints. Policy Exchange’s recent report Freeing Housing Associations proposes giving well-performing providers independent status and the green light to buy out historical grants. This would free them up to do what they do best: delivering much-needed new homes and services to their residents and surrounding communities. The report also concludes that the government still has a role to play investing in new social housing, but that the current traditional model of grant funding is no longer fit for purpose.
This blog originally appeared on the National Housing Federation’s website