New research recommends measures for effective partnerships to ensure the ‘right homes are built in the right places’

To meet the increasing housing need, a close relationship between local authorities and housing associations will be vital. That’s the recommendation from a new best practice research guide by the Chartered Institute of Housing. (CIH)

Building Bridges explores the tensions between the two sets of organisations and advocates ways of partnering more tightly across a number of areas. These include fostering a leadership and partnership culture, and working together on new systems to manage affordability, allocations and lettings. The guide also outlines a series of proposals to government to allow the partnerships to thrive.

Terrie Alafat CBE, the chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Housing, said: “It is clear that the potential in local authorities and housing associations working together is huge and it has never been more important for these two sets of organisations to be close partners.

“Building Bridges showcases some great examples of local authorities and housing associations working extremely closely to make sure people in their communities get access to a decent, affordable home.

“Unfortunately this is not a consistent picture and we desperately need to maximise the potential in this relationship if we are going to tackle the housing crisis.

“It is true that much of the tension between councils and housing associations has its origins in government policy, and in the guide we have made a series of recommendations on how government could act on this.

“But this research also highlights that by working together more closely and sharing resource councils and housing associations can make sure the right homes are built in the right places.”

The new guide recommends councils and housing associations work in partnership to develop a Local Housing Affordability Framework (LHAF) to identify the required mix of homes and agreed targets in terms of number of homes and range of rents for each tenure.

It also suggests working more closely on homelessness; jointly collecting data on street homelessness and increasing engagement with other organisations to support vulnerable homeless people.

The guide also makes recommendations to the government, including: make the building of homes with rents that are genuinely affordable to those on low incomes a central policy objective; ensuring welfare reform measures align with housing policy on affordability; making it easier for councils to dispose of land so that they have more freedom to facilitate affordable housing supply; and increasing the amount of grant available for the building of new homes at lower rents.

Mark Perry, chief executive of VIVID, who also worked on the research, said: “Homelessness in our country is unacceptable so housing associations and local authorities need to embrace and appreciate each other’s differences and move forward to deliver stronger, more innovative housing solutions together, as recommended in this guide. By doing this we can make the most of our partnership and start to make a real impact on the wellbeing of our communities.”

Local authorities and housing associations across England were interviewed and visited as part of the guide, which CIH worked with the Association of Retained Council Housing (ARCH) and housing association VIVID to produce.

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