Richard White 1 (1)
Richard White Executive Director of Development

The Housing Crisis

As the housing crisis continues to grip our nation, it’s essential to recognise the pivotal role that housing associations play in addressing this pressing issue. With a portfolio of 79,000 homes, we’re committed to providing safe, affordable housing for our communities. However, to achieve the ambitious target of building anywhere near the 1.5 million homes that the Labour party have outlined as part of their plans, the social housing sector need robust support from a new government.

The Housing Association Solution

Housing associations are uniquely positioned to bridge the gap between demand and supply.  At Southern we understand the local context, collaborate with stakeholders, and prioritise community well-being. Our commitment extends beyond bricks and mortar; we create vibrant neighbourhoods, foster social cohesion, and enhance residents’ quality of life. For every £1 of government investment, the sector levers in £6 of capital investment. However, building homes is in many ways a discretionary function of a housing association. Our primary commitment must be to our current residents and investing in their existing homes. We have taken the decision to invest £9.2 billion in our existing homes over the next 30 years, but that comes at cost when it comes to building new homes.

While we carry on building the 3,256 homes in our pipeline alongside existing regeneration projects and continue to work in partnership with Local Authorities to build and manage homes on their behalf - new development starts will be paused. Cost rises and several delays due to development contractors going into administration have been two of the factors in the economic slowdown that are impacting our ability to build. So, the general election offers us the opportunity to call upon the new government to help kick-start a fresh approach to housing. Our belief and that of the National Housing Federation and Shelter, is that by building 90,000 social homes the next government could add £51.2 billion to the economy and stimulate economic growth across the UK.

Government Support: A Vital Catalyst

Here are the key areas where support is urgently needed:

  1. Long-Term Rent Settlement: Introducing a stable, long-term rent settlement would provide certainty for housing associations. Predictable, inflation-linked income allows us to plan strategically, invest in new developments, and maintain existing properties effectively. Reintroducing rent convergence should form part of this.
  2. Building Safety Fund Extension: The safety of our residents is paramount. We urge the government to extend the Building Safety Fund to include social and affordable rented properties. This funding would facilitate essential safety improvements and ensure residents’ peace of mind.
  3. Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund Flexibility: As we transition to a greener future, increased funding through the social housing decarbonisation fund is crucial. By supporting energy-efficient upgrades, we can reduce our carbon footprint while enhancing residents’ comfort and cost-of-living.
  4. Greater Grant Support: Investing in affordable homes is an investment in our communities. By increasing grant support, the government can empower housing associations to build new homes swiftly. The Affordable Homes Programme presents an excellent opportunity for collaboration.

Ready to Build

We stand ready to put spades in the ground. Our track record of delivering new homes and creating employment opportunities is exemplary. However, we cannot do it alone. Government partnership is essential to achieving our collective vision of a well-housed nation.

Economic Growth and Skills Development

Investing in homes isn’t just about shelter; it’s an economic catalyst. By supporting housing associations, the government can kick-start growth, create jobs, and encourage new skills within the housing sector. Our success aligns with broader government ambitions to strengthen the UK economy.

Building a Brighter Future

As we navigate the challenges of housing provision, housing associations must sit at the heart of any long-term plan. Together, we can build a brighter future—one home at a time. The time for action is now, and we invite the government to join us in this critical endeavour.

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Featured in the photo (from left to right): Bunmi Atta (Director of Construction at Southern Housing), Mike Link (Chair of the ABE CLT), Cllr Michael Warden (Chair of Aldingbourne Parish Council) and Steve Underwood (Development Manager at Southern Housing).
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