Low-rent housing has played a significant role in reducing poverty in England.
However, welfare reform, the rising cost of living and changes to the way housing is funded are presenting major challenges for landlords. This study across 15 local authorities looks at how they are responding. It examines landlords’ written strategies, business plans and other policies.
- Almost all housing associations said they were building new homes at Affordable Rents (which are usually higher than social rents). However, the actual levels of these rents varied, given that most local authorities had policies to restrict rents charged and the circumstances in which social housing could be converted to Affordable Rent.
- The development of Affordable Rents has increased focus on the issue of rent setting. Around half the social landlords in the study said they aimed to maximise rental income where practical, but similar numbers reported that they aimed to minimise rent or service charges when possible.
- Developing housing associations were increasingly focusing on building housing for market sale or rent, either as a commercial activity to generate cross-subsidy for social homes. In terms of social housing allocations, some housing associations were moving away from focusing primarily on those in most severe need, in favour of a wider range of people, including those on middle incomes.
This paper summarises the findings of a poverty-focused review of housing organisations’ strategic and business plans.
The interim report, The role of housing organisations in reducing poverty: A review of strategic and business plans, is available here.