Social purpose focus soars for housing providers

25 June 2019

The annual Savills Housing Sector Survey 2019 found 84% of senior housing professionals see the provision of social rented homes as a top priority, compared to 65% last year.

The survey of more than 500 housing sector leaders across housing associations and local authorities – the most comprehensive of its type – also found that just over half of respondents now believe too little is being done to maintain existing homes, up from 35% in 2017.

Compliance and fire safety remain central issues, with 78% of respondents reporting increased investment in health and safety compared to two years ago, and tenant engagement has climbed the agenda for 59% (34% in 2018).

Other key findings in the annual Savills Housing Sector Survey 2019, run in conjunction with Social Housing magazine, include:

  • Local authority building: 70% of local authorities plan to increase their delivery of affordable homes, while 25% expect a big increase – though 61% say financial capacity remains the key barrier, despite the removal of the HRA debt cap
  • For-Profit Registered Providers: 72% believe FPRPs have a role to play in solving the housing crisis but 65% believe they are not as concerned with tenant welfare as traditional housing associations
  • Land: 78% say land is the key constraint to building more homes (84% 2018); a third of housing association respondents own some strategic land and 39% plan to buy some in the next five years
  • Strategic land: a third of housing associations hold strategic land (consistent over the past three years) but the volume they hold has increased; 24% had enough land for more than 500 homes in 2018 – now 34% in 2019
  • Modern methods of construction: 69% of respondents expect to be using MMC for 10-50% of their homes in five years’ time – compares to 21% at present
  • 91% believe estate regeneration has a role to play in solving the housing crisis, but this must not just be focused on delivering more homes – the key is to balance viability with the right outcome for residents
  • Brexit: 33% say a Brexit-related market downturn would affect their development activities – up from 27% last year.

The findings of the third annual Savills Housing Sector Survey will be launched in Manchester at Housing 2019, the Chartered Institute of Housing’s annual conference.

Commenting on the results, Robert Grundy, Head of Housing at Savills, said: ‘There is more expectation on the social housing sector than at any time in recent memory.

‘First, pressure on new housing delivery continues in the face of a slowing housing market and the uncertainty of Brexit. Along with this, and in the long shadow of the Grenfell tragedy, the Social Housing Green Paper, the Hackitt Review and the likely review of the Decent Homes Standard have led to a sustained focus on health and safety compliance of existing stock.’

Robert added: ‘Crucially the results from our 2019 survey reveal that there are also exciting new opportunities in the sector. Perhaps the most notable is the potential increase in delivery from local authorities following the lifting of the HRA debt cap. Encouragingly, 70% of local authorities who responded to our capacity survey are planning to increase their delivery of affordable homes – 25% expect a big increase.’

Despite this ambition and the lifting of the HRA debt cap, 61% of council respondents say financial capacity remains a key barrier. The rise in joint ventures and other forms of development partnerships indicate how town halls are working with others to find solutions.

But there is widespread recognition that the ambition of housing professionals and policymakers to significantly increase affordable housing supply cannot be realised without continued and additional grant funding.

Notes for editors:

-          The Savills Housing Sector Survey 2019 is produced in partnership with Social Housing magazine

-          It consists of two surveys and two focus groups: sentiment (more than 500 responses from housing professionals); capacity – director-level at HAs and equivalent at LAs (130 HA; 120 LA); two focus groups made up of capacity survey respondents and discussed both surveys

-          Click here to read the full report

 
 

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