Posted by: Carl Brown09/03/2012
A large swathe of the sector gathered in Brighton this week for the first major housing conference of the year.
The gathering came in the week when the welfare reform bill has become law and just weeks before the new self-financing system for councils begins.
So what was the mood in Brighton?
The sense from delegates is that the sector now knows exactly how the land will lie over the next few years. The time for complaining about cuts is over (for now), housing providers need to get on and think creatively how they can provide services.
Brighton saw delegates talking about the need for more creative use of assets, different ways of raising money and debates on the purpose of social landlords. Brian Johnson, chief executive of Moat, while acknowledging challenges to tenants, said it is an ‘incredibly exciting time’ to be working in the sector.
As Inside Housing reports this week, more private companies are applying to be registered providers and, conversely, more housing associations are looking at de-registering parts of their businesses to avoid regulation.
The boundaries between social landlords and the wider market are being blurred. As new CIH chief executive Grainia Long said in her keynote speech, the sector does not really understand how housing markets work.
That needs to change. The overwhelming message from the seaside this week is that social housing can no longer exist as a ring-fenced sector protected from the wider market.
Landlords need to be thinking about how they use their assets more effectively, how they can be more efficient and how they can operate in a more corporate way without diluting their core purpose of building and maintaining homes for those on low incomes.
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