Housing is the most important issue in London – so say businesses and the public. The reason? We are in the middle of a housing crisis which affects everyone from renters to families struggling to get on the ladder for the first time. New housing is also important to the business community because they want to ensure people can live in affordable homes near to their workplace.
So, with a political consensus that we must build many more homes, housing associations have a critical role to play. This is why the g15 is making an offer to its partners.
It is widely accepted that our capital city has built far too few homes for far too long. Housing supply needs to almost double in order to meet demand. Last year, the g15 group of housing associations committed to build 93,000 homes in a decade. This year, we are setting out the terms on which that supply could double to 180,000 homes– an investment worth around £50bn. But we will not be able to do this without the support of our partners.
So our offer is simple, we are ready to build many more homes if the right conditions can be put in place. Critical to this is a new partnership between the Mayor, Government and local authorities, on a cross party basis, to plan the long-term supply of housing, aligning this to welfare policy.
Together we need to create a volume housing production line starting with land. If, using their planning and compulsory purchase powers, our partners can guarantee a long-term supply of clean, serviced and consented land, we will guarantee jobs, apprenticeships, economic growth and homes.
Investment is also another important aspect of getting housing delivery right. Collectively g15 has levered in £15.5bn of private investment into London housing supported by minimal public money. But we can do more with imaginative investment through equity, bond, bond guarantees and discounted land. Greater certainty on the rents we charge will also allow us to plan future investment with confidence.
However, we know that our sector faces significant challenges. Recent policy changes for housing associations have led us to look carefully at our businesses. We have changed our development programmes, introduced more housing for sale and market rent to subsidise the affordable homes that are so important. And we will be delivering more shared ownership properties and the extended Right to Buy. As it stands, g15 is already the largest provider of shared ownership in the capital, with 6,400 homes built in the last three years.
Housing Associations are unique because we are also charitable organisations. We do much more than building homes. A core part of our mission is to help the disadvantaged and promote social mobility. To help us do this we recycle all our business surpluses back into building and managing homes. Last year we invested £40 million and we have helped over 11,000 Londoners into work over the last three years; we plan to help 21,000 extra people find employment in the next three years.
In recent months we have been meeting with London local authorities, MPs, the Mayor’s team and the Government to secure the partnerships we need to deliver more. These discussions have been positive because there is a will between partners to get more homes built and to work together.
Despite the huge challenge we face I am confident we can achieve our goal.
David Montague, Chair of the g15