This is a guest blog from RP ASSURE
The views expressed are not necessarily the views of the SHOUT campaign.
With a new government, a bulging benefits bill and controversial cuts adding fuel to an already hellish fire, 2015 has been a difficult year for the social housing sector. And as concerns over the UK’s financially vulnerable bubble ever closer to boiling point, opinion remains divided over the best way to move forward.
As the war over welfare reform rages on and truly affordable homes give way to rising rent prices, we’re taking a look at the future of social housing and discussing how much-needed changes can make an impact on the UK housing crisis.
The current landscape
As the acute housing shortage grows ever more apparent, all eyes are on the government to find a solution to the increasing problem - but with a lack of housing contributing to rocketing rent prices, it looks set to be a drawn out process.
While 141,000 homes were built last year, questions have been raised as to whether this is something the government can maintain in their efforts to stabilise the sector. With charities and industry professionals campaigning tirelessly for an affordable social housing sector, as well as a promise to bridge the gap between incomes and living costs, the country is up in arms about the current status of social housing.
Earlier this month, the Belfast Telegraph reported on the positive effect social housing associations can have, with figures from 2012/13 showing that “15,000 jobs were supported by the sector”. But, as backing from the government dwindles and registered providers feel the strain of trying to support their tenants, how long can the sector struggle on?
In light of this year’s political upheaval, those who rely on social housing are at risk of being left out in the cold - and they’re not alone. As the country deals with the largely unwelcome shake-ups, it seems that individuals and organisations working to support the social housing sphere are among those hit hardest.
With multiple threats pressing down on registered providers, managing risk is an ongoing process. From efforts to support their tenants to offering advice with issues surrounding unemployment, social housing associations are feeling the strain - and implementing suitable financial risk mitigation options will be key to their survival in the sector.
While social housing landlords face a period of uncertainty, implementing safeguarding solutions means they can work towards a financially stable future for both themselves and their tenants.
Social housing: a solution
So, what’s the answer for the social housing sector?
With David Cameron suggesting £450,000 is a reasonable price tag for a starter home dreams of homeownership are slipping further out of reach for many of the UK’s low income families. As it becomes increasingly difficult to plant a foot on the property ladder, more and more of the country’s residents are becoming reliant on social housing.
Despite figures revealing that less than 460,000 homes were built between 2011 and 2014, by the end of their time in power, the Conservatives are aiming to have built one million more homes in the UK. Realistically, at least 100,000 new homes a year are considered necessary to stabilise the social housing sector - but will the Conservatives deliver on their promise?
Whether you’re a concerned social housing provider or confused tenant, if you’re affected by the latest shake-ups to the sector, keep one eye on the industry news surrounding this political hot potato. That way, you can make steps towards safeguarding your future.