What is social housing?

Social housing is unique in that it is the only type of housing where rents are linked to income. So, generally speaking, social homes are the most affordable homes across the country, usually rented at about 50% of the average local market rent.

Who provides social housing?

Houses and flats for public or social housing use are built by or for local authorities. Historically known as council houses, since the 1980s non-profit housing associations have become more prominent and social housing has become the default term.
Approximately 55% of the country’s social housing stock is owned by local authorities – of which 15% is managed on a day-to-day basis by arms-length management organisations rather than the authority – and 45% by housing associations offering social homes, shared ownership, supported and specialist housing.

What’s happening in the market today?

At a time when housing is in short supply, social housing is more important than ever before. Unsurprisingly given the dramatic rise in the cost of living, the demands for social housing – already pressing – is sky-high. In order to subsidise their housing commitments, many housing providers supply other products and activities besides housing – for example, depending on specialism or social care.

Current challenges

With the explosion in demand for social housing, housing associations and other social housing providers are stretched. 2021 was a big year with social housing firmly on the government’s radar, with a bill introduced on new building safety regulations, changes proposed to the planning process and work on the Social Housing whitepaper continuing. The trend is set to continue for 2022, especially as building safety reforms become law. Housing associations and other social housing providers are working incredibly hard to prepare for major changes. Sustainability is a priority and the journey to net-zero, decarbonising the nation’s homes, adds to the workload providers face.

The tragedy of Grenfell brought the responsibilities that housing providers have into sharp relief. Tenant and building safety is increasingly high profile as providers seek to understand what changes they need to make to ensure they’re compliant, with any changes to the law to ensure people are safe in their homes.

The fluctuating economic climate in relation to Brexit, the pandemic and today the crisis in Ukraine, is adding to the pressures providers face. Especially when it comes to labour, skills and materials – prices are increasing exponentially as the labour market shrinks.

Contract explosion

Unsurprisingly, as the risk profile for providers increases, there’s a contract explosion. Already busy fulfilling other responsibilities, such as repairs, rent collection and compensation claims, the management of social housing contracts adds another layer of complexity to the day-to-day. Social housing providers of social housing – landlords, local authorities and housing developers – are awash with contracts. Examples of which include: local council tenders, short term tenancy agreements, block management for flats, deposit schemes, inventories for checking in and out tenants, maintenance programmes for existing social housed tenants and properties, contracts and legal documentation to do with land and planning issues pre-build.

Social housing management software

Four Business Solutions can offer expert advice to social housing providers as they navigate a maze of contracts. Automated processes offered by social housing management software can help take the strain off-contract management, leaving providers free to concentrate on other priorities such as customer care, purchasing, accounting and general finance.

Contract Insight is our intelligent, cloud-based contract management software solution which can help social housing providers take back control in a complicated world. To find out more, click here.