The National Housing Federation released its response to the Government's Social Housing Green Paper earlier this week.
Amongst their key points and recommendations, they look closely at how to support the sector's aim to deliver more new homes. There is a positive recognition of the Government's approach to housing associations - dealing with them as "key partners" in solving the housing crisis. They do, however, ask the Government to "be bolder" in their approach.
Some of the suggestions they make around increasing housing supply include:
1. Development sites often increase in value significantly once planning permission has been secured. The NHF suggests changing planning rules, so that the local community receives a fair proportion of any such uplift in value;
2. Asking for 50% affordable housing requirements for developments on public sector land;
3. Suggesting a database of land ownership, so that it is clearer who is profiting and how more land can be made available for development;
4. Requesting more long term certainty around funding, to allow proper planning for developments. This includes asking for an ambitious commitment of grant in the next spending review period, in addition to the £2bn already announced. This level of certainty will allow organisations to commit to future site delivery, invest in skills, and set up the sort of longer term partnerships that are already becoming more common;
5. Formulating a new campaign on shared ownership products to increase its popularity and reach - although perhaps there needs to be a recognition that shared ownership is not always the answer, usually depending on geography;
6. Reiterating the proposal for residents to buy an initial 1% share in their homes, which they can then build upon. The NHF are called this model "Just One". We have already supported some of our more innovative RP clients in setting up such initiatives to encourage home ownership in their areas; and
7. Calling for funding to allow RPs to deliver more community-led housing. We are seeing that community-led projects are providing some great solutions, and delivering well-thought out developments that integrate well into the existing community.
How groundbreaking is all of this? Most of the above proposals have been mooted before in one guise or another, but it is initiatives of these nature that are needed to ensure that the sector is best placed to meet the challenge of a huge increase in the delivery of new homes. The Green Paper gives the sector an opportunity to gather some of the best solutions and to present them to the Government to ensure that the necessary support is in place.
The Government now needs to do its part now to ensure that housing associations are set up to succeed.
Increasing the supply of social housing – this is critical in ensuring everyone can access a quality home they can afford, and will require bold action by the Government, particularly on land