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Perfect partners

Securing credit from councils - not banks - can reap quick results

Martin   Pollhammer

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Martin   Pollhammer
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I think I’m going to get fewer offers of hospitality from banks and building societies in the future, thanks to East Lothian Housing Association’s agreement to source our future private finance from East Lothian Council.

That’s about the only downside I can see from our agreement with the council.

There’s quite a few upsides too - lower rates than those available on the market, no margins, no arrangement fees, low risk, simple terms and conditions, no hassle in drawing down funds, and no problem sourcing long term loan deals.

But the agreement is not about that. With drastic cuts in subsidy levels in Scotland coupled with an inability to raise rent levels to those in England, we had to do something to allow us to continue to build in an area with some of the highest housing need in Britain.

This is a story about partnership and about sharing resources with the council to do the best we can for our area.

Others can follow this road too. Not everyone will, mainly because too often relationships between councils and housing associations simply aren’t good enough.

But, considering we’ve moved from having an idea to tenants living in the first houses funded this way in six months, it shows what can be done when you start with the outcome you want, and work backwards with your partners to see what you can do together to achieve it.

Martin Pollhammer is chief executive of East Lothian Housing Association

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