Sinéad Butters MBE is the Group Chief Executive of Aspire Housing.
At the last General Election, we succeeded in making housing a top five issue for voters. Now, for the first time in 40 years, the UK is gearing up for a snap election.
So, can I guess the outcome of the June 8 election and what it means for housing? Probably, but surprises can happen. Although it might not matter much to the political commentators, the answer is one which will affect the lives of those housing association customers who rely on the support from Government to aid unaffordable housing costs.
In a world of no surprises, my guess is that we will see a number of things…
Welfare Reform and the impact on our tenants will remain a big challenge?—?an area to campaign on and never give up. Withdrawal of Housing Benefit for under 21s, Local Housing Allowance (LHA) caps that restrict housing benefit for under 35s and the most vulnerable will be unaffected, although pressure will further mount on Government to review the arrangements for supported housing, which could see vulnerable people on the streets.
From there, homelessness will continue to increase, triggering an urgent response from Government despite it being a symptom of a problem, the cause of which will remain unaddressed. But, housing associations will build more homes; and if you think 1 million was a big ask, try 1.5 million by 2022.
“The extension of the Right to Buy scheme will be kicked into the long grass in the hope it will be forgotten, or a more diluted version will prevail.”
The extension of the Right to Buy scheme will be kicked into the long grass in the hope it will be forgotten, or a more diluted version will prevail. Social housing will assume a new significance in Government plans if they want to achieve their ambitious target, and efficiency and published metrics comparing providers will replace a Value for Money statement.
Housing associations will step up.
We will take more risks in terms of building for sale and we will keep pressing for clarity around funding for supported housing, along with a review of the operation and application of the LHA cap to contain the Housing Benefit bill.
We will get a rent deal of some kind which will enable us to build more homes. We will win the fight to see regeneration funds invested nationally to kick-start marginal markets and encourage developers to build.
We will get our message across that one size fits no-one and that local areas need local solutions.
What do I know?—?I could be surprised. Surprises can happen.