The UK’s most extensive survey of the housing sector
A renewed sense of purpose
There is more expectation on the social housing sector than at any time in recent memory. First, pressure on new housing delivery continues in the face of a slowing housing market and the uncertainty of Brexit. Along with this, and in the long shadow of the Grenfell tragedy, the Social Housing Green Paper, the Hackitt Review and the likely review of the Decent Homes Standard have led to a sustained focus on compliance of existing stock.
But, the results from our 2019 survey reveal that there are also exciting new opportunities in the sector.
Perhaps the most notable is the potential increase in delivery from local authorities following the lifting of the HRA debt cap. Encouragingly, 70% of local authorities who responded to our capacity survey are planning to increase their delivery of affordable homes – 25% expect a big increase.
The rise of For Profit Registered Providers has also attracted much attention, both as an opportunity and possible threat. Sage has started to build real scale, and L&G has entered the sector with big ambition. Our report shows that 72% of respondents believe FPRPs have a role to play in solving the housing crisis providing they remain focused on tenant welfare.
Modern methods of construction also represent a big opportunity. They are attracting significant investment and the sector will see an increase in use over the next five years.
Against these exciting new opportunities, many of the old challenges remain.
As the sector increasingly looks to move from Section 106 to land-led development, availability of land remains the biggest single factor impeding increased housing delivery. Skills and organisational capacity (exacerbated by Brexit), remain a challenge, mostly so for local authorities.
Unsurprisingly, lack of grant funding still inhibits development. In the face of a more challenging environment for the cross-subsidy model, there is a clear role for government here.
Partnerships have been active in the sector and the clear message from the survey is that this trend will continue. Whether these are within the sector, with government bodies or with private partners, well-delivered partnerships spread risk, unlock opportunity and accelerate delivery.
Encouragingly, the strongest message from the research is the renewed sense of social purpose. This comes through emphatically in our survey and focus groups. With such a shared drive toward common goals, we are optimistic the sector will continue to innovate and adapt to fulfil its critical role in housebuilding and society.
This survey, in association with Social Housing magazine, is the result of two surveys and two focus groups.
The sentiment survey
This was completed by senior professionals working in the housing sector and we received more than 500 responses. The purpose was to understand how the sector feels about the scale of the housing crisis, housing priorities, and how well the sector is responding.
The capacity survey
This focused on senior director-level employees at housing associations and people in equivalent positions in local authority housing teams. For the first time, the capacity survey had questions focused on local authorities and housing associations. Respondents were asked about their development plans and priorities, financial capacity and issues, and the impact of policy changes. Data was collected in March and April 2019. We received just over 130 housing association responses (representing more than half the total homes in the sector) and 120 local authority responses.
We invited a small group from the capacity survey to two focus groups to discuss both surveys. The group represented a cross-section of the sector and the aim was to expand on any interesting results, share experiences and discuss issues outside the survey questions where relevant. The participants are not identified due to the confidential and sensitive nature of some of the topics.
Read the articles within The Savills Housing Sector Survey below.