Challenges Facing the Social Housing Sector
With social housing organisations facing an inadequate amount of housing stock and other obstacles, One Guarantee founder and MD Robin Plaster explores the current social housing landscape.
What is your experience with Social Housing warranties?
I was the co-owner and managing director of a guarantee provider that worked with social housing organisations before establishing One Guarantee in 2017.
My experience in social housing stretches back beyond that role, though. I have been involved with a wide cross-section of housing associations, both large and small, for more than 20 years. During that time, I gained a thorough understanding of the industry and its specific needs, leading me to work with insurers and my teams to develop a solution to protect their properties and organisations.
Plus, One Guarantee’s connection with the wider One Broker Group sees the involvement in the social care sector extend beyond pure warranties, because the group acts for a range of different social care entities, including The Papworth Trust, which has been a client for many years.
How has the social housing sector changed over the years?
Without doubt, the social housing sector has shrunk. A total of 5.5 million homes were provided by local authorities and housing associations in 1979. This number declined by a quarter over the next 40 years, reaching 4.2 million in 2020.
Research conducted by Heriot-Watt University for the National Housing Federation (NHF) and Crisis (2018) called for 145,000 new affordable homes per year, of which 90,000 should be for social rent. These estimates were later endorsed by The Housing, Communities and Local Government (HCLG) Select Committee in 2020.
And while the number of homes provided by the sector has increased slightly in the last decade, the availability of homes for social rent has fallen as alternatives, such as Affordable Rent, have become more available.
This is believed to be due to factors including Right to Buy sales, conversions from social rent to Affordable Rent, and low levels of new homes available for social rent.
According to a research paper published in April 2021, only 11% of the 57,600 new affordable homes delivered in 2019/20 were for social rent. This represents a sharp decline compared with the period before 2011/12, when social rent made up most of the affordable housing supply.
The March 2020 Budget announced an additional £9.5 billion in funding for the Affordable Homes Programme, bringing the total programme to £12.2 billion available from 2021 for five years. Although welcomed by the sector, the Government didn’t outline the proposed tenure mix, in particular the number of social rented homes. Of 180,000 affordable homes, the 2021-26 programme is expected to deliver around 32,000 for social rent, falling short of the estimates set out by the Heriot-Watt University report.
Are there other challenges?
The social housing sector is arguably facing its biggest challenges ever following the outbreak of COVID-19.
Measures such as the Government furlough scheme have helped shore up the UK economy and protect jobs during the coronavirus pandemic. However, unemployment is expected to rise once furlough schemes come to an end, resulting in higher demand for social housing.
Alongside the prospect of rising unemployment, housing associations are also facing logistical and financial headaches. The multibillion-pound Fire Safety Bill, for instance, along with the challenge of upgrading the stock to zero-carbon will add to their cost base.
Because we understand these challenges, the One Guarantee team is fully conversant and up to date with the key issues facing the industry. We know you need reliable, AA-rated structural warranties for your new social housing developments. That’s why our policies are tailored to your sector’s needs and are backed by one of the largest and most financially secure insurance organisations in the world. We can even arrange cover for up to £45m for any one structure.
By providing suitable policies, not only can we help housing organisations like yours to rectify defects with minimal disruption to tenants, but we also provide peace of mind for the future.