The morning after the night before

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fiona_underwoodThe dawning of a new economic cycle – not really witnessed in the security of what has been the housing sector…. how are you feeling now you’ve reached September? The end of a long hot (and wet) summer and a feeling that the post-budget hangover may be waning?

So what does ‘the morning after the night before’ feel like?

Brain not quite wired correctly? A fuzziness regarding the details of the last couple of months (too much to do, too little time)? The need to pull the duvet over your head and crawl back to the land of nod?

OR

Full of energy – new challenge, new day? Exciting opportunities in store? Where to start?

Whichever reaction, the reality of the budget announcements and resulting fall out over the summer have brought the provision of social housing into sharp focus and the choices available to RPs, positive and negative, have to be seriously addressed and thought through. The responsibility lies with the Boards and Executive teams up and down the country.

However, for most of us, the vision and values of an organisation are the place to return to when assessing the options….. what are we here for? Once you answer this, the choices, although difficult, are clearer. For most organisations it is about excellent services, quality homes for current and future customers and enabling them to ‘be the best they can be’ (borrowed from Bromford!).

We have heard of different approaches to tackling the reduction in income and all the other impending changes – slow or stop development, change the mix to reduce the social rent and increase the shared ownership and outright sale, smooth and change the stock investment profile, stop the community investment etc. etc.

Not as prominent, but surely one place to start is a good hard look at how efficient you are as an organisation. My experience from within the private sector and comparing the two is that some have tackled this issue but a significant number have not. What is stopping you? The board should be asking the question and not shy away from the difficult decisions, 10% – 20% out of operating costs is achievable and should be on the agenda now.

Likewise, the question of independence. Are you better remaining independent, managing through the next few years with reduced ability to really make a difference, and for some just surviving is the objective with no flexibility if conditions remain the same or worsen after 2020? Be proactive, work out your strategy and whether remaining independent fulfils your mission and purpose and even if it does, good practice dictates, that when there is a fundamental shift in the operating environment you should review your position.

So, things to do, decisions to make.

Is social housing dead? No, I don’t think so, but the choice is yours.

If you’re looking for an effective hangover cure, just contact Altair Partner Fiona Underwood on 07788 643 092 | fiona.underwood@nullaltairltd.co.uk or Steve Douglas on 07810 152 840 | steve.douglas@nullaltairltd.co.uk.