Discussions start on future of housing association sector

Published on 08/11/2017

The Future Shape of the Sector Commission held its first meeting on Monday 6 November, chaired by ex-Cabinet Secretary Lord Turnbull.

The high profile Commission has been established by three of the country’s largest housing associations – Clarion Housing Group, L&Q and Network Homes – and is examining how housing associations of all sizes should evolve to manage likely social, economic and sectoral change over the next 10-15 years in the best interests of customers, stakeholders and society at large.  

The first meeting was an opportunity for the Commission members to identify and discuss key trends which may affect housing associations through the 2020s and how they might react, as well as beginning thinking around how housing associations can influence the environment they operate in.

Significant themes to come out of the meeting included the importance of quality in existing homes, the housing management offer, the resident voice and accountability; geographic and size disparities and differential housing association experience around similar issues; the meaning and discharge of social purpose in increasingly mixed economy businesses; technological change and digital service; the role of housing associations in an era of squeezed incomes and ongoing welfare reform; financial resilience and new investment.   

A first Future Shape of the Sector Commission in 2006 proved influential in encouraging large housing associations to simplify their structures, change their governance, and play a more ambitious role in the housing market.

David Montague, chief executive of L&Q which managed the 2006 Commission said “The practicality of the first Commission’s recommendations was vital in its ideas being adopted and the emphasis of this new Commission will also be on the practical rather than the academic – making recommendations that can be applied to ensure all housing associations can succeed.”

The Commission has put out a Call for Evidence to over 90 influential organisations including housing associations of all sizes, local authorities, trade bodies, government and its key housing agencies, developers, lenders, think tanks and others, with responses requested by the end of November.  Key themes from the evidence will form the basis of a series of roundtables and interviews to be held during the early part of next year. 

The aim is to publish The Future Shape of the Sector report in June 2018.