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Community and Practitioner: Why do Small Social Landlords Matter?

24-25 September 2018

The Think Tank will explore the potential for a technical support organisation, on a non-profit footing, to help small housing associations wanting to develop. Small and medium-sized associations, technical specialists, larger associations interested in helping, and councils wanting to make better use of micro-sites are all invited.

We will brainstorm the barriers to growth, the benefits of small-scale, incremental development and the special initiatives that small housing associations are often set up to deliver. We want to include community-led housing groups of all kinds who bring a youthful energy to making small work.

Small is in the news. The government just announced a community housing fund of £50m per annum over six years – totalling £300m – to help small community groups tackle their own housing problems and find new solutions.

Small infill sites can accommodate two to ten homes. There are millions of scraps of land in every town and city. But big builders and big housing associations are not geared up for this, whereas small builders are. So small housing associations can play a big role to helping to provide homes.

Small housing associations are grounded in local areas; offer a direct and personal housing service they are popular. But they struggle financially with very few specialist staff; often they are absorbed into bigger associations. But we need them to help meet local needs in local areas.

There are several hundred small housing associations with less than 1000 properties each, and hundreds more with less than 5000 properties. There are also smaller transfer associations with under 10,000 properties. Few of these housing associations build much since grants and subsidies disappeared. They struggle to fund new homes for social rent, they need professional support to get through planning, surveying, designing, building and financing small schemes. They need to borrow to invest. They need a supervisor for the building work; they need a reliable income stream from rents with strong management skills.

Access to professional, technical support overcomes the barriers to small housing associations developing without all the necessary skills in house.With the right support, small housing associations can add several thousand rented, low cost homes a year – paying back over 30 years, and breaking even on the cost.

We are organising a pioneering Think Tank:

  • To showcase the value of small, community-based housing associations;
  • To inspire new support for small housing associations wanting to develop;
  • To explore the untapped potential to tackle local housing need;
  • To discuss how to manage rental income so it supports expansion.

The Think Tank will explore the potential for a technical support organisation, on a non-profit footing, to help small housing associations wanting to develop. Small and medium-sized associations, technical specialists, larger associations interested in helping, and councils wanting to make better use of micro-sites are all invited. We will brainstorm the barriers to growth, the benefits of small-scale, incremental development and the special initiatives that small housing associations are often set up to deliver. We want to include community-led housing groups of all kinds who bring a youthful energy to making small work.

 

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