Deliver a new deal for social housing with residents at the heart
As the Social Housing Regulation bill makes its way through parliament, we welcome the Government’s efforts to strengthen regulation and give residents a strong voice.
We are already preparing for the new regime and have created a co-production model where residents are working alongside our leaders to develop ideas and make decisions. This is spearheaded by a Resident Services Board comprised of residents of varying tenues who hold our group board and leadership team to account.
Acting as equal partners and co-creators, we are aiming to build reciprocal relationships that ensure what we offer is resident led and resident driven.
We have strong foundations in place for resident oversight that would help the Government in defining what good and excellent looks like. We are keen to share our learning and demonstrate how an inclusive “co-pro” culture can reap rewards for residents and landlords alike.
Work with residents and housing associations to manage the cost-of-living crisis
Energy prices are going to soar beyond what the average person can reasonably afford, and we’re very concerned about the impact this will have on the people living in our homes.
As we enter an autumn of uncertainty for millions of households, we are actively engaged in supporting residents and community organisations through the L&Q Foundation. This includes supporting free or low-cost food services and using our network of community centres to provide spaces for local projects and those in need.
Through our Tenancy Sustainment, Pound Advice and Employment Support services, we’re providing emergency support to vulnerable residents who are in crisis; helping residents reduce their debts and outgoings; maximising benefits for those that need them; and getting people into paid and secure work.
As the scale of the economic shock becomes clearer, we know our support can only go so far. Since the start of April, the rate at which we issue food bank vouchers has nearly doubled, and we are facing the prospect of a difficult and expensive winter. There is no easy answer, but it is clear more assistance is needed.
The National Housing Federation (NHF) has warned that 400,000 homes in England will not be protected by the energy price cap as a result of being on communal heat networks. To make matters worse, a large proportion of those affected are vulnerable people living in supported housing, who may already be struggling to make ends meet.
The Government and housing sector must work together closely to find a solution that works for all.
We welcome the consultation on a proposed rent cap in response to the rising cost of living. However, we are concerned that a new cap will significantly impact our ability to maintain and improve existing residents’ homes, as well as continuing to build much needed new affordable homes. In getting the balance right on rent setting, we are pleased to have the opportunity to discuss these important issues further.
Make sure everyone is safe in their home
Nothing is more important than resident safety. L&Q has committed over £250 million to building safety works over the coming years and has launched one of the UK’s largest building safety inspection programmes. We were the first housing association to announce that we would not charge for works required to homes that we built, and are working urgently to remediate potentially unsafe homes, as well as bringing about changes to make new homes safe in the future.
The Building Safety Act signifies an important milestone in overhauling building safety regulation and offers a robust framework to improve standards. Whilst its full effect is still to be understood, we need to stand firm on our plans to solve this crisis. The next chapter will be how we pivot from remediation to routine compliance– and a productive relationship with Government will be crucial to this.
Build more homes for social rent and shared ownership
As an organisation, L&Q was one of the first to champion Shared Ownership, marketing our first homes through the scheme in the late 1980s. Today, we remain one of its biggest advocates.
Shared Ownership is the most tried and tested way of helping lower-income households onto the housing ladder. Thanks to the alignment of political will, lender appetite and customer demand, it is firmly established as the UK’s fourth mainstream tenure.
We hope the Government continues to recognise the important role it plays in bridging the gap between renting and open-market purchases.
Given the rising costs of labour and materials, static grant rates will affect the development of not just shared ownership homes but homes of all tenures, including social rent.
The only way to address this is by raising grant levels to give certainty on the future of the Affordable Homes programme.
Drive decarbonisation efforts forward
Social landlords like L&Q want to be at the forefront of decarbonisation by generating the scale needed to kick-start this economy.
L&Q has started the industry’s largest investment programme – £2.7bn over 15 years – to upgrade the safety, quality, comfort, and environmental performance of our residents’ homes.
With a deep commitment to the long-term sustainability of our stock, we are uniquely placed to lead the way in decarbonising Britain’s homes.
We recognise that doing so is not only an essential part of tackling climate change, but it saves residents’ money, helps combat fuel poverty, improves energy security, and creates jobs. Given the interlinked energy, cost of living and climate crises, the benefits of this cannot be overstated.
Housing associations will not be able to meet this challenge alone. We need to invest in our homes, while working with the Government to put in place the policies and funding needed to reach net zero by 2050.