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First Wessex - We have been published!

Our Chief Executive, Peter Walters, has had another article published in the well respected sector magazine, Inside Housing.
 
Coverage in the magazine is good for First Wessex – it increases our visibility amongst other housing associations and puts us forward as thought leaders within the industry.
 
The article argues against the recent catchphrase - 'the death of social housing'. Below is the original text, or if you have a subscription, you can read the published version on the Inside Housing website.
 
"Reports of our Death…
 
Mark Twain [American author, 1835-1910] countered newspaper reports of his demise with the memorable, riposte that 'reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated'. I hope that, had he been a 21st century housing commentator, rather than a mere novelist, he'd be saying much the same about social housing. 
 
He'd be worried though, as we all are, by a government rampantly deploying its considerable powers to residualise our sector to an option of last resort. But, governments, while being more than just for Christmas, have no guaranteed existence beyond five years, whereas Housing Associations, by and large, are for life.  
 
And, just because it's bad - and it is very bad - doesn't mean it's terminal.
 
Housing at social rents in England amounts to 18% of the housing stock - a formidable 3.9m million homes. What can the Government’s raft of measures actually change in the remaining four years of this parliament? 
 
On a worst case scenario, a 3% RTB [Right to Buy] take-up would see the loss of 69,000 social rented homes, another four years of affordable rent ‘conversions’ removes a further 88,000, and (according to Shelter) the sale of 'higher value' homes (from 2017) would target 81,000 Council owned social rented homes by 2020. Add to this mix further Council owned RTBs, and homes lost through demolition, offset in part by associations like mine and others, ensuring most if not all RTB replacements are let at social rents, and the total is not far short of 250,000 lost to the sector.  
 
It’s irresponsible, and amounts to a dereliction of duty towards the most vulnerable third of society. But - and this is the point - that still leaves 3.65 million social homes in England.
 
We shouldn't let the 'death of social housing' narrative become a given. It feels like throwing in the towel, and worse, it runs the risk of legitimising a further upping of the anti against social housing.
 
Nobody can argue that that the concept of decent, subsidised social housing at genuinely affordable rents isn't under serious threat. But it will take more than one, two or even three terms of government to destroy it. And the electorate usually tires of governments before they can wreak permanent havoc.
 
Even under this unprecedented threat, it would take a further 45 years to extinguish all signs of life. Hang on in there: reports of our death are premature indeed."

 

 

Date published: 16th June 2016