I promised to write to you after the Budget with a full response on the changes we knew were coming our way, including further cuts to welfare. As expected, the cuts will be deep and will hit the sector hard. The 1% cut to social rents may be the biggest challenge we have faced in decades, and I am fully aware just how serious it is for many of your businesses. With the Right to Buy and further reductions in benefits also affecting your tenants and your revenue streams, I know that this will be a severe test of the sector’s resilience. We have produced a detailed briefing on all the changes announced last week to help you manage the specifics.
The Federation’s top priority now is working with you to mitigate the impacts of the last few weeks’ announcements. Our first step is to gather intelligence and model the effects on the sector to take to Government, and chief executives should have received my email on Friday to request any information you have.
We are also investigating alternative offers the sector could make to the Government that would achieve its aims while not destroying our capacity to build and thrive. This will take some time and will of course involve consultation with you, but we believe solutions must be found that work for both parties.
In the meantime, we will continue to talk to ministers and civil servants to reiterate how damaging this is for housing associations and emphasise our ambition to work with the Government in partnership rather than opposition. I met with Greg Clark and Brandon Lewis immediately after the Budget last week – a significant prioritisation of their time – and have another meeting with Brandon next week, where I will be setting out the impact of the new measures.
A Plan for Homes
Brandon has also committed to attend our parliamentary event this afternoon where we will be launching A Plan for Homes, a statement of intent that sets out what housing associations could deliver if the external environment were right. It sets how we’d achieve the vision for 2033 outlined in An Ambition to Deliver – and, crucially, the policy changes we’d have needed to get there, which are based on the work we did with members over the last year.
Of course, the developments of last week make it now virtually impossible for housing associations to deliver this if the Government follows through on its plans. So we’ll be presenting A Plan for Homes as an illustration of what could have been, and what still can be, if the Government works with us to enhance rather than inhibit your businesses. It is a vivid portrait of how bold, effective and valuable housing associations are, and will help us maintain that crucial positive narrative alongside the difficult conversations we’ll now be having.
You can download the publication here and details of the policy can be found on our website. I will be in touch again soon with our further thoughts on how to take these wider issues forward. I am grateful for your feedback so far, and, as ever, if you have other views or insight to share with us, I would be pleased to receive it.
National Housing Federation