With the average first-time buyer deposit now being over £30k, well over the average annual salary, there is no wonder there has been a rise in the need for social housing. In 58 local authority areas in England the median house price is more than 8 times median earnings.
There are currently over 1.7m households on social housing waiting lists in England. The average waiting time for an affordable home is now over six years. The Homes and Communities Agency who regulates social housing providers in England, was responsible for and funded around half of all new homes built in England in 2009 when the construction of homes was at an all-time low.
Housing associations are there through good times and bad, doing all they can to help people regardless of age or income. Which is why housing associations are still investing in people and places – over half a billion pounds in 2010/11. Housing associations can be model social enterprises employing tens of thousands, improving lives, and ploughing surpluses back into people and places.
Last year housing associations helped improve the lives of over eight million people with more than half a billion pounds of community investment, according to the National Housing Federation’s Building Futures report published last month.
In 2010/11 housing associations:
• Delivered more than 9,000 neighbourhood services and provided or maintained 1,500 community spaces.
• Helped around 7.75m people.
• Employed 11,000 people to carry out this work.
• Invested £746.5m: £529.5m from their own money/ £217m raised from other organisations.
And it’s not just the people and the communities that benefit from good social housing - the savings to the public purse are notable, with the health impact of poor housing costing the NHS £600m to £1.5bn per year. And basic improvements to the energy efficiency of the housing stock saves between £100m and £150m a year from fuel bills, and saving 4-6 million tons of CO2.
As the government continues to reduce the Local Housing Allowance, and with a major shake-up on its way to how social housing tenants pay for their properties – the next few years are set to change the way housing associations operate forever.
(Source: The Homes and Communities Agency; National Housing Federation)