Unreliable sources say a change in seasons could bring interesting weather
Within the next six months, we hear a housing strategy is on its way as well as a new chair of the social housing regulator. Affordable rent has been virtually put to bed for this year and it’s all change at CLG, with Richard McCarthy heading to pastures new. And a welcome back for right-to-buy.
We will also have a new housing agency with a different role from the Homes and Communities Agency and the Tenant Services Authority. It will have the RDA’s land, as well as a few of its liabilities- watch out for the sting in the tail that is impairment.
We will also have the new investment agency in London and the Localism Bill will be law. Depending on who you talk to, now is the time to hunker down and see what happens or alternatively to be bold and set the agenda. Each said in equal measure. Our take is that local authorities, registered providers and developers should be taking the time, while things settle down, to make sure their houses are in order and are prepared for the next big upswing in activity. Which could be much sooner than many have suggested.
If it is big capital projects that will be the driver for growth – housing is a prime candidate for investment. Registered providers will be asked to dig deep again, by the new regime in government. The economic regulator might take a different view of value for money and RPs’ asset wealth, unless a clear strategy for its use can be demonstrated. There is a deal to be done. Local authorities will have a new set of freedoms – but many are still to work through what their new relationship with developers and RPs will look like. There could be opportunities on the way as well as a few rows.
It looks like the weather is set to change. Take your umbrella but also take your sunglasses. The months ahead could be very interesting.
Steve Douglas is a Partner at Altair