Stonewater comment on Party manifesto housing plans

As one of the UK’s largest social housing providers, Stonewater has been taking a great deal of interest in what each of the Parties are setting out in their manifestos regarding the current housing crisis.

In 2014 less than 119,000 new homes were completed. Although this was an increase of 8% on the previous year, it is still less than half the number needed to meet demand. Stonewater already has one of the most ambitious current development programmes in the UK, aiming to provide more than 7,000 new homes over the next 10 years but it’s still not enough. It is clear that the issue needs innovative thinking, collaboration and new approaches if we are to see any sort of paradigm shift in the social housing landscape.

Ruth Davidson of the National Housing Federation has set out a clear and compelling response to the Conservative proposals. Housing Associations exist for the benefit of the whole community and have a responsibility to ensure that the needs of the most vulnerable are protected. The economics and ethos of social housing is not the same as the broader housing market – and quite rightly so.

While it is good to see this rising up the political agenda we will be taking a careful and considered look at all Party proposals. We need to understand more – from the possible diminution of the assets value of our current properties as a result of increased discount to how it may affect the sector and our rating? How might it impact our future borrowing costs? Our future developments? The policy announced is that the cost to housing associations will be met from sales of high value council properties. If this is the case then the impact on Associations will be limited to the disruption caused by mixed tenure estates and the need to procure replacements. The risk is that demand will exceed this source of funding and landlords are not fully compensated. What happens in local authorities where there has been a stock transfer so the planned source of subsidy has already been used up? We will be looking at all these things and modelling the impacts.

Headline grabbing is understandable in the current race to the ballot box but we need to ensure we think through all the implications. We have a responsibility to consider the needs of all our client groups in seeking workable – and sustainable - solutions.

- George Blunden, Chair of Stonewater


For more information contact:

Liz Coyle-Camp / Felicity Fox, Public Relations

Tel: 01747 871752 Email: liz@emc2publicrelations.com