The housing sector and change: lessons to learn

13-04-2016

by Dr Louise Dunne, Lead Housing Advisor, CIPFA Housing Benchmarking and Diagnostic Service

The first round of CIPFA’s diagnostic analysis of housing organisations across the UK suggests that the housing sector needs to be more ‘fleet of foot’ when faced with change. Against the background of policy changes being introduced by the Housing and Planning Bill this is a lesson that needs to be learnt  and learnt quickly. 

This is just one of the findings that have emerged in recent weeks out of the data analysis from the first round of our new diagnostic service, which provided an initial health check of each housing organisation’s performance covering everything from the cost of repairs to return on assets. The aim of these health checks was to give us some base data from which we could make an early assessment of performance, and also to help CIPFA experts identify the range and types of strategic based questions we would need to ask as we move forward to the more in-depth analysis of our members’ housing business plans.

Discovery

Not surprisingly vast differences appeared. There are a considerable number of housing organisations that need to address resourcing issues, cash flow and management of their assets as a matter of some urgency and even those authorities that may be said to be ‘doing comparatively well’ are facing serious challenges in one or two specific areas.

Following the results it would be fair to say that authorities need to rethink their decision-making processes, management of information flows, including governance arrangements, and their risk management. Officer hierarchies in terms of empowerment, roles and responsibilities also scored poorly. Authorities need to think about how they can become more agile or responsive in managing the impacts of government policy and other influencing external factors.

Going forward

The new administration is clearly focused upon ‘homes for sale’ not for rent. If the social housing sector is to survive this latest round of assaults upon its very ‘raison d’etre’, they will need to think carefully about what these early results are telling us, and learn from them.

Discover more

CIPFA will be discussing these results, and their implications, at our forthcoming Housing Conference on 9 June 2016, in central London. Our keynote speaker, Lord Kerslake, will explore the government’s drive to promoting home ownership and the impact of this policy on the supply of new affordable rented housing for those on low incomes.