Playing our part in tackling the housing crisis
The National Housing Federation this week published a report which revealed the scale of the housing crisis facing this country.
In England an astonishing 8.4 million people are directly affected by the housing crisis, through having nowhere to live, living in overcrowded homes or homes that are unsuitable for their needs, or who are still living with their parents. That’s 1 in 7 of the total population. And the report concluded that of these around half would need a social rented home to meet their housing needs. You can read the report yourself on the NHF website.
Over the past year as we have brought three organisations together we have produced a new strategy which gives us clarity on our central role as a provider of affordable homes that will ensure we play our part in tackling the housing crisis. We’ve identified building affordable homes, including shared ownership homes as a core part of our business. Although we will still build homes for open market sale, we will only do this where it unlocks larger sites and it is necessary to develop a mixed and sustainable community and, importantly, where the profit we generate enables us to deliver even more affordable homes.
We have also been clear in recognising that we should really focus our expertise on those areas where we can make the biggest difference for our existing and aspiring customers, it’s important that we don’t spread ourselves too thinly. We have really strong footholds in Lichfield, Tewkesbury, Cotswolds and South Gloucestershire and we will continue to invest significantly in these local economies. We have committed to delivering half of the 14,000 homes we will build in the next decade in Gloucestershire including South Gloucestershire with the remainder in the Midlands and our wider operating area.
Increasing the number of homes we build on land we acquire remains a central aim for us, this is supported by our ever-expanding construction team. We are currently focusing on developing a standard range of good quality, affordable homes which will enable us to maintain tight controls over costs, quality and timescales and allow us to be competitive when bidding for land. But ultimately, acknowledging the growing housing crisis and the fact that there are 4.1 million people affected by the housing crisis in the Midlands and South, this is also about scale. That’s why our land-led approach will only ever represent half of our overall programme and is why section 106 and our partnerships with developers, including joint ventures with like-minded organisations, will be just as important moving forwards.
A key part of our strategy is that we are building a number of long-term, strategic relationships with partners whose ambition and values align with our own. Our financial strength, sector-leading credit ratings and exceptional liquidity position make Bromford an attractive proposition and we want to use our investment to build even more affordable homes through partnerships. We have some very strong existing relationships and we are looking at opportunities where we can align our businesses further. It’s about posing ourselves the question ‘how do we use the strength of the relationship we’ve already got to actually improve our offer’ and ultimately have several strands of business which are mutually beneficial with a given partner; rather than just one or two on a transactional basis.
Over the past year we have become one of Homes England’s new strategic partners, which gives us further opportunities to deliver more affordable housing by forging relationships and ensure we manage the quality of homes being built. Whilst this funding and the investment housing associations such as ourselves make in our development programmes ensures new homes continue to be built, the National Housing Federation’s report concludes that more central funding is needed to resolve what they’re calling the “single biggest domestic crisis” faced by the country.
At a time of such political uncertainty where the issue of Brexit has arguably pushed the UK’s housing crisis further down the immediate public agenda, there has never been a more important time for housing associations to come together to raise the profile of housing and the scale of the issue facing the country and to highlight our role in solving it.