Research article

7 take-outs from our housing sector survey

From social rent to mergers and funding, here are the key points from our housing sector survey that will define future development and activity

  1. Most people in the industry (64%) believe the main priority for the housing sector is to build more homes. By contrast, 36% prioritise managing existing homes. This pattern is consistent across sub-sectors, age and geography.
  2. 94% of respondents say that the number one housing priority is one of three groups: working households unable to afford the market; the homeless; and vulnerable people. It is also widely agreed that the needs of these groups are not currently being met and are worsening.
  3. 86% believe the sector is not doing enough to solve the housing crisis. But, of these, 75% say there is appetite in their organisation to evolve and innovate to do more. This falls to 57% across the sector as a whole. This suggests tensions and inefficiencies in the system, hampering the ability to rise to the challenge.
  4. As a whole, the sector thinks social rent is the right tenure to meet need in most cases, and more organisations are set to deliver it compared with last year. But our focus groups of senior housing association leaders are less concerned with tenure labels and want to focus more on getting people in homes they could afford and that meet their needs.
  5. Housing association leaders recognise the challenge of increasing the supply of homes and 73% say it has become more of a priority over the past year. But significant barriers to growth exist. Access to land was a challenge for 85% of organisations while 43% say they need to change financial arrangements to deliver their development aspirations.
  6. Brexit is only a minor worry for housing association leaders and our focus groups. They expect minimal impact on most aspects of their businesses, apart from construction capacity and costs. Here, it could exacerbate issues relating to the ageing workforce and a general lack of skills.
  7. Competition for development land is hotting up as housing associations large and small are increasingly entering the market as an alternative to acquiring stock through section 106. Local authority development companies are also adding to the demand. Mergers and joint ventures can offer a shortcut to accessing land. Only 3% of respondents say they are not considering any kind of partnership.

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