Following the seismic shift in the social housing sector caused by the government’s Budget and new policies, we’ve been considering how we can continue supporting people in housing need within our communities.
After reviewing our strategy and business plan, this week we set out how we’ll adapt to meet the challenge, remaining true to our social purpose, but working in a different way in order to remain a strong and effective business.
I wrote in my blog in September that the Budget announcements, along with the extension to Right to Buy, had created the most significant combination of policy decisions that I’d experienced in my 35 years in housing.
While since then we’ve signed up to voluntarily extend the Right to Buy, giving more of our residents the chance to own their own home, there is still a great deal of detail to work through.
The other policies, such as the 1% annual rent reduction, the lowering of the benefit cap and the introduction of the starter homes initiative, all contribute to a future where our income is constrained, our development programme under pressure and our assets devalued and potentially up for sale.
Unsurprisingly it’s making us think very differently about how we can remain strong businesses while holding on to those social objectives.
After the Board met at the end of October to review our strategy and business plan, we’ve been talking to our employees this week about what it all means for us.
The first question is always whether there’ll be job losses. I’ve seen others announcing redundancies and while we do need to reduce our headcount in the coming years, we’ll do it by not replacing people as they leave or as part of normal changes within the business.
We’ve said before we’ll need to change the mix of our 1,000-home-a-year development programme, upping the shared ownership, but we’ll keep building homes for affordable rent.
But these policies are a gamechanger and we need to really challenge ourselves. We’re looking at it as an opportunity to question how we’ve always done things and look again about how we deliver our services and maintain our homes.
We are a social business and we are committed to helping people in housing need. As we become an even more efficient and effective business, this will not change.
This blog appeared in the November issue of Sovereign News, our stakeholder newsletter.