The results of a recent ‘state of the nation’ survey, focusing on the future of the social housing market, have been released. The research was conducted by the National Energy Foundation in conjunction by Capita and the University of Sheffield.
The survey was completed by a selection of social housing providers, responsible for approximately half of the UK’s total social housing stock between them.
It was conducted in response to a number of growing challenges – such as Welfare Reform, the pressure to increase new supply, and the need to cut social rents by 1% per annum until 2020 – which will face the market this year.
Despite Britain’s uncertain political climate following Brexit, the results suggest that social housing providers are still willing, and able, to deliver. Energy prices and living costs are set to rise, but those surveyed were confident that they could continue to provide their tenants with healthy and affordable homes.
85% of respondents stated that their main motivation for investing in retrofit was to reduce fuel poverty and improve affordability for their tenants.
Over the last 12 months, approximately £120 million has been invested in retrofit and renovation Whilst social housing providers can no longer rely on local authority funding for this, the sector demonstrated a commitment to innovation, particularly in the field of energy efficiency.
Disappointingly, however, the survey results showed that only 40% of respondents felt that retrofit is appropriately promoted at board level.
The survey also revealed the importance of good data, which can help to create a strong, clear business case for retrofit. Social housing providers should be able to cope with, and interpret, this data in order to manage their properties efficiently, and provide the best service for their tenants.
Effective data management can help the sector to create robust investment strategies and optimise work programmes. By exploiting new technologies, providers can improve data management and develop effective ways to monitor performance and invest in their portfolios.
According to the National Energy Foundation, it is important that social housing providers make an effort to understand their assets’ performance, target investment, and improve their portfolios. Whilst new technologies provide a way to do this, many respondents stated that they were ‘interested but not delivering’.
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