The social housing sector is undoubtedly going through a period of significant change, driven by a series of political events, as well as developments within the sector itself. While Brexit is of course one of the political drivers – forcing housing associations and local authorities to rethink their procurement, supply chain and workforce – it is by no means the only one.

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The Grenfell tragedy in 2017 prompted an independent review of buildings and fire safety regulations by Dame Judith Hackitt, the well-respected former Chair of the UK Health and Safety Executive. An increased focus on resident safety was also a feature in the Social Housing Green Paper, published by Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government in 2018, as we have previously written about for 24Housing.

Through the Green Paper the Government sought to rebalance the relationship between residents and landlords, tackle stigma and provide housing that can underpin social mobility. Other than the issue of resident safety, it has largely been perceived as a call for social landlords to engage more closely with their tenants.

While Brexit and Grenfell have certainly had an impact on policy making by central government, some of the greatest drivers for change in the sector have come from within. The return of the Direct Labour Organisations (DLOs) and a pressure to deliver higher-quality services in an increasingly challenging financial setting, are just two examples.

DLOs have experienced a renaissance in recent years as social housing providers seek to make savings, reduce risk and improve services for their tenants. Negative perceptions of inflexibility and lower service standards are a thing of the past, as social landlords take repairs and maintenance either completely or partially in-house by establishing a DLO.

And while there is still significant pressure to reduce capital expenditure, there has also been a shift in the way landlords consider their approach to repairs and maintenance. Quality and safety are now priorities for both government and landlords alike. Instead of focusing on short-term cash savings (delivered through cheap and low-quality products) landlords are now exploring options that achieve greater value in the long term.

Finally, over recent years, there has been a wave of housing association mergers. This has been driven partly by government policy around welfare reform, extended Right-to-Buy, rent cuts and a growing requirement to build more homes, but also the opportunities to achieve economies of scale and reduce management costs.

Mega mergers, such as Anchor-Hanover and Notting Hill-Genesis have created housing associations with more than 54,000 and 65,000 homes respectively. With larger development, legal, compliance and back office teams and greater expertise, engaging in larger scale house building projects becomes infinitely more possible.

The result of these shifting plates brings both challenges and opportunities for registered social landlords. If you want to know more about Travis Perkins Managed Services and how a bespoke managed service for your repairs and maintenance can support you to navigate these, please get in touch with the team today.

Read our Guide for Registered Social Landlords here:

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