With news that the Regulator of Social Housing has warned against Registered Providers (RPs) losing sight of social value, is it time for the sector to reassess its motives?
As RPs try to meet the need for new homes, many are engaging in more commercial activity to support ambitious business plans - private sales and PRS schemes are de rigueur these days.
So, is it fair to suggest that some organisations may be losing their way? Or is it just a fact of modern life that private sales and PRS are needed to support the delivery of affordable homes? And a diversity of providers can help us tackle the housing crisis?
Certainly most of the RPs that I have met over the last few weeks, which includes some of those that would be considered amongst the most commercial in the sector, have a very clear sense of their social purpose, and their business plan is to support those goals.
But there is no doubt that there are new models entering the sector, that offer alternatives to the traditional schemes. The Regulator has classed these as "emerging and stretching" organisations, and they can expect focused attention on their activities. These organisations, such as "for profits" and lease-based entities, are delivering new housing at scale, but the Regulator needs assurance that levels of risk are manageable.
The sector should be careful not to lose sight of the public value of social housing as it gets to grips with deregulation, the new interim chair of the regulation committee at the Regulator of Social Housing has warned