Is housing policy sea change a tidal wave?

We live in strange political times. We are seeing a change in tone and approach to housing with almost monthly announcements of new policies and funding.

The Prime Minister attended the NHF Conference today, which must have been a welcome break from Brexit. In itself, her attendance is a statement of the importance that housing now has on the political stage.

Over the last few years there has been a great deal of unease in the relationship between housing associations and the Government. It does seem that today's appearance by Theresa May was somewhat of a peace offering - "This government values housing associations."

I'm not sure that I've ever seen a politician say this, but it is certainly long overdue. At last there is a recognition of the skills and expertise that housing associations have built up and the part they play in not only building homes, but in creating and effectively managing communities.

Theresa May has announced that new longer-term partnerships "will be opened up to the most ambitious housing associations through a ground-breaking £2 billion initiative".

Under the scheme, associations will be able to apply for funding stretching as far ahead as 2028/29, albeit that the funding is not available until 2022. It is, however, key that this is a longer term commitment providing subsidy further into the future than has previously been the case, possibly funding schemes which would otherwise be marginal in terms of viability.

There is a definite change in tone to move away from any stigma which attaches to social housing. The greater challenge is how this change is received and welcomed by society in general, albeit that the Grenfell tragedy has hopefully opened people's eyes to the issue.

It remains to be seen what shape the funding takes and what tenure type it's focused on delivering, but the hope must be that the emphasis is on social housing.



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