The radical message behind ‘back to basics’Posted: December 13, 2022 | Author: julesbirch | Filed under: Housing associations, Regulation, Social housing | Tags: Better Social Housing Review | 1 Comment
Originally written as a column for Inside Housing
At first glance there is nothing especially radical about the Better Social Housing Review – as the independent panel says, ‘there is nothing revelatory in our findings’ and ‘it may seem to housing associations that our recommendations are already central to their approach’.
And indeed much of what the review commissioned by the National Housing Federation and Chartered Institute of Housing says about engaging tenants, improving repairs services, handling complaints better and tackling stigma and discrimination are things that landlords could, and should, already be doing.
But take a second look and the key messages about organisations focussing on their core purpose and about it being ‘time to get back to basics’ are profoundly radical. They represent a challenge to the way that the sector has developed in the three decades since housing associations became the alternative to what the Conservative government called the ‘municipal monopoly’.
Because that same government was also making associations the vehicle for private finance and stock transfer and steadily squeezing the grant rate for new development to encourage them to ‘sweat their assets’.
That drive for ever greater efficiency and value for money worked in the sense that it delivered more new homes for less public money but it also created a remorseless logic for merger and the creation of landlords that became even bigger than the giant council housing departments of the past.
And that was only reinforced by regulatory changes in 2010 that overwhelmingly prioritised financial concerns over consumer ones and encouraged landlords to focus accordingly.Read the rest of this entry »