Category

Social Housing

People should be proud of their council house – Theresa May

By | Residential Property, Social Housing

People who live in council houses should be made to feel proud of their homes, Theresa May has said.

The PM announced £2bn to build new homes in England, in an attempt to remove the “stigma” of social housing.

Under the plan, housing associations, councils and other organisations will be able to bid for the money to spend on new projects, starting from 2022.

Labour said the announcement fell “far short” of what was needed for the social housing sector.

BBC home editor Mark Easton said the government hopes the money will allow local authorities and housing associations to build schemes that would otherwise seem too risky.

He said the sector’s calls to provide more confidence about future funding – so the 300,000 extra homes required in England each year can be built – had appeared to have been listened to.

Mrs May told a National Housing Federation summit in London: “Some residents feel marginalised and overlooked, and are ashamed to share the fact that their home belongs to a housing association or local authority.

“On the outside, many people in society – including too many politicians – continue to look down on social housing and, by extension, the people who call it their home.”

She will encourage housing associations to change how tenants and society view social housing.

“We should never see social housing as something that need simply be ‘good enough’, nor think that the people who live in it should be grateful for their safety net and expect no better,” she said.

“I want to see social housing that is so good people are proud to call it their home… our friends and neighbours who live in social housing are not second-rate citizens.”

In mixed developments, she said it should be impossible to tell the difference between full-price and affordable housing, which should not be “tucked away out of sight and out of mind”.

David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, said the prime minister’s announcement was “extremely welcome”.

“This represents a total step change. For years, the way that money was allocated meant housing associations couldn’t be sure of long-term funding to build much-needed affordable housing,” he said.

He said that by changing the way the funding was allocated, ministers had given “long-term confidence and confirmed that we are trusted partners in solving the housing crisis, building new homes and communities”.

But shadow housing secretary John Healey said the reality was spending on new affordable homes had been “slashed” and the number of new social rented homes built last year “fell to the lowest level since records began”.

“If Conservative ministers are serious about fixing the housing crisis they should back Labour’s plans to build a million genuinely affordable homes, including the biggest council house-building programme for more than 30 years,” he said.

The English housing survey for 2016/17 reported that 3.9 million households – about nine million people – lived in the social rented sector, which was 17% of households in the country.

The funding covers the next spending review period, from 2021 through to 2028.

Downing Street said the money was separate to the £9bn of public funding put toward the existing affordable homes programme until 2022.

Source: BBC News

Prince William to launch landmark workplace mental health initiative on visit to Bristol

By | Social Housing

PRINCE William is set to launch a new workplace mental health initiative on Tuesday, which is designed to provide employers with improved access to tools and materials required to better support staff.

The Duke of Cambridge will unveil his Mental Health At Work project at an event in Bristol on Tuesday, which will include an online portal providing access to resources, training and information for managers in order to provide support for employees.

Prince William will visit Bristol’s Engine Shed, an innovation centre located in Bristol Temple Meads railway station, and will attend workshops demonstrating the online portal in action.

The initiative has been created in partnership between the Royal Foundation, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s charitable trust, and the mental health charity Mind.

Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, commented on the initiative, stating: “We know that employers want to do more and are starting to see mental health as a priority, but often don’t know where to start.

“The new online Mental Health At Work gateway will change that.

“Over the last few years employers have begun to take staff well-being more seriously and we know that many are doing great work around mental health in the workplace.

“Now is the time for a step change in how we think about mental health at work.”

The initiative will be open to all businesses, but will be particularly focused on small and medium sized organisations, which regularly struggle to access sufficient resources.

Alan Soady, head of media at the Federation of Small Businesses, commented on the issue to Sky News, stating: “For the small business employer without an HR department it’s important that they’re given help, support and guidance to allow them to do that for their staff and also look after their own well-being.”

Prince William will deliver a speech at the event, alongside Antonio Horta Osorio, the chief executive of Lloyds Bank, who will outline his own struggles in the workplace.

The Duke will also meet representatives from a number of organisations who have shown leadership in promoting and advancing mental health initiatives in the workplace.

The project will expand upon the Prince’s previous work on mental health as part of his Head Together campaign, which sought to end the stigma surrounding mental illness.

A survey conducted by Mind into wellbeing in the workplace revealed that almost half of the 44,000 people questioned had experienced poor mental health in their current roles.

However the research also revealed that only half of these individuals had talked to their employers about the issue.

This suggests that as many as one in four UK workers struggle in silence with issues including anxiety, stress and low moods, costing employers between £33-£42billion every year.

The Growth of Socially Conscious REITs

By | Residential Property, Social Housing

The REIT brand is recognised and trusted globally – so let’s use it as a force for good in creating vibrant places, writes Jenny Brown, of Grant Thornton.

Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) have continued to rise in popularity since they came into force in January 2007.

Within a month, nine of the UK’s largest listed property companies had converted to REIT status and, fast forward 10 years, there are now more than 70 UK REITs.

A REIT can offer significant benefits for investors and operators alike.

The brand is recognised and trusted globally, with most major economies having an equivalent regime.

There has been a marked increase in the number of REITs coming to the market in the last five to six years, with more than 30 new REITs listing on the London Stock Exchange and raising more than £12bn of equity.

Our latest report, REIT’s as a force for good, shows that many new REIT’s are now focusing on specialist sub-sectors, such as healthcare and social housing, which meet increasing demand from investors for both a financial return and an investment that focuses on property with a social value.

The potential for REITs to meet the need for new homes in the current climate is gaining increasing interest.

A sustained shortage of government funding has forced many housing associations to take on more debt in order to develop new homes.

With the government’s aim of building 300,000 new homes each year, REITs offer investors an opportunity to be part of a financial solution to help provide more social and affordable housing by partnering with housing associations in innovative ways.

A number of new REITs are already emerging that are focused on residential property and they have seen strong demand from investors.

REITs potentially offer investors better returns than they would achieve by investing directly in the properties themselves, as well as the security and liquidity of the REIT structure.

REITs are well suited to act as the owners of property assets with a social role, by working in partnership with operators.

The collaboration between the two can provide property management expertise to complement the expertise of either public or private operators.

The lesson we can take from looking at international markets is that the government can do a lot to help stimulate investment in this area through the tax system.

Australia is facing an affordable housing shortage so the government has introduced new tax concessions to encourage REITs to invest.

Similarly, in Canada, a number of REITs focused solely on residential property are supported by significant tax advantages and these REITs have delivered some of the highest returns across the stock market.

All those involved in the UK market need to continue to build and maintain effective partnerships between REITs, developers and operators and focus on collaborating effectively.

The combination of their different expertise is vital to supporting innovative high quality schemes with a social purpose.

That will only happen if we raise awareness of the potential for REITs to deliver long-term social benefits and educate both investors and operators about the risks and rewards of the structure.

These partnerships will be able to seize the significant opportunity for REITs to build on their success and become a force for good in creating vibrant places in which people can thrive by meeting the country’s housing needs.

Government can also help support these developments by looking at further reforms to the REIT regime to widen the permitted activities in which they can invest.

Source: Jenny Brown, chief not for profit operating officer, Grant Thornton UK

 

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