Leading landlords in talks with Treasury
Representatives from some of the country’s largest housing associations have met with Treasury officials to encourage government to help ease the financing of social housing.
The meeting, which took place last week, was convened by chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander. Among the issues discussed was how to make the case for government to invest in housing as a means to stimulate economic recovery.
It comes as the G15 group of leading London-based housing associations discuss plans for a research project to put forward the economic case for housing.
The meeting was attended by senior figures from Affinity Sutton, Circle, Home Group, the Guinness Partnership, London & Quadrant, Riverside and Sanctuary, as well as National Housing Federation chief executive David Orr and chairman Lord Matthew Taylor.
‘It was an opportunity for the country’s leading affordable housing providers to meet the man with the purse strings,’ said David Montague, chief executive of L&Q. ‘He was very keen to understand whether access to finance was a challenge for us; and in the long term, we could do with a bit of help.’
Since the meeting, the Financial Times has reported that the Treasury is considering a plan to make it cheaper for housing associations to borrow from the capital markets by letting the Bank of England buy bonds as part of its quantitative easing programme. However it is understood that the proposal was not put forward at the meeting.
Simon Dow, chief executive of the Guinness Partnership, who also attended the meeting, said the bigger problem for landlords was the continuing absence of long-term bank lending rather than the price of bonds.
‘We are not aware that there are any problems with liquidity in the bit of the bond market that supports our sector,’ he said, adding that what was missing from the current funding mix was ‘the more flexible set of arrangements’ that used to be offered by the banks.
So far this year, housing associations have borrowed almost £2 billion, long-term, from the capital markets while banks have generally stopped providing facilities of longer than 15 years.