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PlaceShapers challenge report

For many PlaceShapers members #housingday was soured by the release of Policy Exchange’s report “Freeing housing associations”.

One of the fundamental principles of Placeshapers is that housing services should respond to local circumstances and that close working with local authorities, CCGs and other local groups is critical to the success of housing associations.  Collaborative working is a cornerstone of PlaceShapers work.

The Policy Exchange report suggests that local authorities would be side-lined, or, at best, be restricted to “contractual” relationships with associations.

Another concern of PlaceShapers is the possibility of rents being driven upwards.  There are only two ways that can be supported financially.  Either the Housing Benefits bill will increase exponentially or associations will increasingly stop housing people on benefits. 

Tony Stacey, Chief Executive of South Yorkshire HA and Chair of PlaceShapers, said, “We welcome the debate that the Policy Exchange report has provoked.  However, there is a danger that ideas driven by large, Southern associations will not provide solutions for the rest of the country.

"Much of the rhetoric in the report describes a parallel universe for many of us working in the North.  I am also very concerned by the implication that public assets could be privatised on such a massive scale.  We all think of the NHS as a national treasure, and I hope that, in the run up to the Election, we can start to talk about the homes we provide in the same way.”

PlaceShapers comprises over 100 community-based organisations with strong social values. Our Members own over 750,000 homes between them and are at the forefront of the provision of new housing with a further 32,000 new homes due by 2015. We have called repeatedly for a grant regime that would enable output to be increased still further. John Giesen, Chief Executive of B3Living in Hertfordshire and PlaceShapers Board Member, said, “We aim to build homes at truly affordable rents.  Forfeiting grant is not an option for most of our members.  We should be maximising the number of new homes associations build, not excluding locally-focused associations.”

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