Posted by: Carl Brown21/09/2012
Much of the focus of this week’s annual National Housing Federation conference was on how to boost the supply of new homes.
Delegates in the bars and restaurants in Birmingham were full of ideas of how to boost supply and whether the coalition’s £10 billion guarantee scheme can make a difference.
As David Orr, NHF chief executive, said in his speech to delegates this week, the mood is oddly one of optimism, as housing bosses think of innovative ways of delivering homes and explore new group structures to make this easier.
However there was one voice in Birmingham urging caution, that of Julian Ashby, chair of the social housing regulator.
Mr Ashby delivered a tough message to the conference telling landlords they need a stronger grip on their finances. He bemoaned the fact that a number of associations have already got in trouble by mismanaging the process of getting the cash they need for their development programmes.
The regulator is thinking about how it is going to regulate for-profit housing associations and is especially concerned about associations which have unregistered for-profit arms, which it can’t by definition regulate. The big fear is that the value of social housing assets will be used to generate profits, rather than to help organisations fulfil their social and charitable purpose.
A main focus of the regulator over the next few months will therefore be to work out how to measure this ‘value’ and how to ensure it does not leak out of the sector, while at the same time ensuring the ability of social landlords to innovate is not unnecessarily restricted. It is an unenviable job.
From Housing matters
Carl Brown looks at regulation, training, board members, pay and a host of other issues that impact the day to day running of social landlords