General Election: the results are in
We now know that David Cameron is set to govern a (slim) majority Conservative government. This has taken most of us by surprise as the pre-election forecasts all suggested a very different and much less conclusive result.
So whilst the pollsters work out why their predictions were completely wrong, we’re thinking hard about what this result means for our customers, for our communities, for our partners, for our business and for our staff.
At this early stage some things are clear. The housing association sector is facing some of the biggest challenges in its history. We are in the midst of a housing crisis where the demand for decent homes far exceeds supply. Too many people are struggling to find the homes they need to rent or buy at the prices they can afford. Too many people are struggling to make ends meet as housing costs increase faster than incomes.
We also know that there will be big cuts to welfare benefits - by £12 billion if Conservative Party plans are fully implemented. We can expect the roll out of Universal Credit to continue (a good thing so long as the systems work) and that the Bedroom Tax is here to stay. We can be sure too that Government will press ahead with plans to push homeownership as the tenure of choice. And, sadly, we must expect that they will pursue their manifesto pledge of extending the Right to Buy to housing association tenants – a policy, as I have said before, that we believe is fundamentally unsound.
The positive news is that that we are in a good position to prepare ourselves for what’s to come and to do the best we can to mitigate the impact on residents, communities and on our business. As a housing sector, we must continue to work together to ensure the housing crisis does not slip down the political agenda. We need to keep it in the minds of the public, to make sure they keep reminding their MPs that we all need a place to call home. And we need to push political leaders to produce a comprehensive national infrastructure plan that clearly sets out a long term commitment to end the housing crisis within a generation.
And, whilst we do all this, we will continue to support those who need us. We will continue to play the role of both spring board and safety net. We will find innovative ways to tackle the challenges of further welfare cuts and support our residents to do the same. Housing, whilst this is a time of change and challenge, it is also a time of opportunity.
Nick Horne, Chief Executive