The 2022 edition of the CIH’s annual Housing conference has opened its doors at Manchester Central following two years of cancellations and variations thanks to the pandemic.
CIH CEO Gavin Smart opened the conference with a keynote address highlighting the very real fears of tenants over the rising cost of living.
“The latest Resident Voice Index, which surveyed over 5,000 social housing residents, found that 68% reported being worried all or most of the time about meeting normal monthly living expenses,” Smart noted.
“This rose to 82% for under-35s. Over half (56%) don’t know that help or support would be available to them if they faced a financial struggle and almost six in 10 (58%) don’t feel they have the power to influence their future financial situation.
The £15bn support package introduced by the chancellor last month was a very welcome step in responding to some of these pressures, particularly the targeted support for those on benefits and the commitment to uprate benefits next April by September CPI.”
Smart also drew attention to worrying rises in the cost of average rents, with a rise of just over 10 per cent nationally, and every region of England seeing rises over the previous 12 months.
He went on to express concern over the government’s commitment to expanding Right to Buy, saying: “I understand the government’s aspiration to support people into homeownership, but this cannot come at the expense of supplying the most affordable social rented homes that our country needs so much.”
Elsewhere, CIH Futures chief James Ballantyne discussed how to make housing a career of choice, and increase diversity in the sector, including by encouraging landlords to employ their own tenants: “A huge focus for us is on how we empower residents to come into the sector for careers,” said Ballantyne. “People who have experienced [social] housing know the sector personally [and] where the failures are.”
Around the stages and sessions taking place on Day One, it was no surprise to find issues such as retrofitting and the fight for net zero dominating many agendas, with the question of funding one that seems likely to recur over the next three days.
The National Housing Maintenance Forum launched Frameworx, a new procurement framework, across the UK with the aim of shaking up the procurement market and providing greater choice for social housing providers
The winners of the annual Housing Heroes and Women in Housing Awards were also announced today, with Mears Group and Calico clinching the coveted Employer of the Year independent and Housing Association/Local Authority respectively, Livin being recognised for its work with apprentices, Poplar Harca’s Christine Searle collecting the Lifetime Achievement in Housing Award, and Home Group’s Becky Leonard Dixon recognised by the Women in Housing Awards for her work as an inclusion champion.
Housing 2022 continues in Manchester until Thursday June 30.
Image: Gavin Smart, courtesy CIH