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How do local authorities and housing associations work in partnership?

13th April 2022 By Social Invest
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How do local authorities and housing associations work in partnership?

One topic that often comes up in conversation in our sector is how local authorities (LAs) and housing associations (HAs) can work in partnership. Without a doubt, LA and HA partnerships are needed to meet and manage the increasing demand for affordable housing, but the question is: how can these partnerships be perfected?

Both LAs and HAs share a common purpose; they want to serve their communities by providing good quality, affordable housing. This common purpose can help strengthen and drive any partnership, it can also help build good relationships between key leaders in LAs and HAs.

Unfortunately, LAs and HAs also have a common challenge – funding. Local authorities in England have seen grants from central government slashed by 37% in real-terms between 2009/10 and 2019/20. This has been offset to some extent by the ability to increase council tax and, for housing specifically, the scrapping of the Housing Revenue Account borrowing cap. But despite these concessions, finances remain under pressure.

Meanwhile, housing associations are dealing with a trifecta of cost pressures brought by post-Grenfell building safety legislation, Net Zero targets and increasing demand for new development. The government’s £12bn Affordable Homes Programme will help but is not enough to meet rising cost

Even with the best foundations in place, LA and HA partnerships face complex and shifting operational situations that are out of their control, such as insufficient investment in affordable homes, welfare cuts, and the decline of new social lettings, amongst other issues. Other challenges faced by partnerships can include place-shaping, economic development, public health, and social care roles due to the government cuts in day-to-day services.

Considering how important LA and HA partnerships are to addressing the housing crisis, there is a priority discussion to be had so sustainable partnership solutions can be found and refined appropriately. Research shows that almost every local authority, with or without a Housing Revenue Account, will be looking at some kind of housing project in the next five years, and partnerships will be leading the way forward.

Social Invest Director Luke Cross will be discussing affordable and sustainable solutions to the housing crisis at this year’s Housing151 Conference. The conference is all about how LAs are working in partnership with purpose-driven organisations, and how collaboration is driving new funding models across the UK. Delegates will also be hoping that the answer to the question “how can LA and HA partnerships be perfected?”.