Working together, thinking alike

25 June 2015 | 25 June 2015

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With the planned extension of Right to Buy, continuing pressure to reduce welfare budgets as well as failing subsidy, it is has never been more crucial for housing associations, local authorities and Local Enterprise Partnerships to work together.

In fact, I believe that not only can we overcome these challenges we can do far more for the communities we serve by redefining old partnerships and forging new ones at a local level.

The benefits are obvious. The Elphicke-House Report and the Lyons Housing Review both highlighted the importance of housing for economic growth; the urgent need to address land supply; and the vital role of local agencies.

Both emphasised the importance of leadership in achieving this, and the role of partnerships and alliances in ensuring that the efforts of different players are brought together with a clear and effective focus on delivery.

We have begun this process with partners in the south and south west, starting with some honest conversations about our respective ask and offer. It means we can get a much deeper understanding of each other’s objectives, obstacles and opportunities. It means we are sharing plans earlier and being more upfront about what skills and resources we can bring to the table.

At the same time we commissioned research from The Smith Institute, published today, called ‘Working together – thinking alike: What do councils and local enterprise partnership expect from housing association’s’. Based on anonymous conversations with local authorities and LEPS, the report aims to get under the skin of those relationships.

It describes a traditional relationship in transition, and new relationships in development. It recognises our shared purpose and values. It identifies opportunities to tackle the challenge of providing new homes in a part of England where demand is high, and land seems scarce. Crucially, the report provides clear guidance on how key players can collaborate within communities to ensure that the right homes are built in the right places, and how their work can be supported at a national level.

These recommendations include greater collaboration to meet strategic housing need, make the planning system work for both sides as well as agreeing how we allocate homes, to make sure we continue to meet local housing need and support the most vulnerable.

There are recommendations for others too, including the government and its departments, the National Housing Federation and the Local Government Association. This national framework is as vital in making local partnerships effective.

Both for people needing a home, and for a nation seeking to consolidate the economic recovery, it feels as if housing and our shared social purpose has never been more important. To fulfil these objectives, now is the time to jointly shape a new long-term commitment with our local partners.

This blog has been previously published on Inside Housing.