Jess McCabe

I am a journalist and these are some of the stories I've been working on lately

The Times follow up

A couple of weeks ago, my story on how many homes that housing associations are building was followed up on the front page of The Times:

contrast

The Times viewed my data as evidence that overpaid housing associations are not building enough. Our own front page splash took the exact opposite angle (see above).

My story in full, as it appeared in Inside Housing on 18 March:

The largest developing housing associations have added 7,377 homes to their pipelines since last June, defying expectations that thousands of homes would be left unbuilt in response to the 1% rent cut.

Inside Housing’s exclusive research reveals that the Top 50 Biggest Builders by pipeline have in total boosted their development pipelines for 2015/20 by 4.4%. In June 2015, they expected to build 168,442 by 2020. This pipeline has now increased to 175,819.

In the immediate aftermath of the 1% rent cut introduced in July last year at the summer Budget, many housing associations put developments on hold and the National Housing Federation (NHF) warned that the policy would result in the cancellation of 27,000 new homes.

Reacting to Inside Housing’s new numbers, Adam Morton, policy leader at the NHF, said: “Associations have revised their building plans and driven even greater efficiency in their organisations in order to retain their ambitious plans to keep building across a range of tenures.”

The Department for Communities and Local Government welcomed the findings and said associations “are a key part” of the government’s pledge to build a million homes by 2020.

However, not every housing association’s development pipeline has withstood the financial pressure.

Two in three of the Top 50 cut their number of completions for this year. Twenty-four out of the Top 50 cut their pipelines for 2015/18, and 18 out of the 50 reduced their building plans for 2018/20.

Most put the cuts down to the 1% rent cut. WDH has made some of the most aggressive cuts, slashing more than 40% from its pipeline.

Martyn Gorton, director of investment at WDH, said: “We hope to restructure our loan facilities in order to provide additional capacity from 2018 onwards.”

Associations are also planning to build more market sale homes to cross-subsidise future affordable and social rent homes. The number of affordable rent starts is set to drop from 45% in the 2014/15 financial year to 37% in 2015/16.

Top 50 Biggest Builders survey check-in

Top five biggest % increases % increase in pipeline June 2015 prediction (number of homes to be built 2015/20) March 2016 prediction (number of homes to be built 2015/20)
Anchor 87.5% 1,200 2,250
BPHA 64.6% 1,566 2,578
Wales & West 57.4% 991 1,560
Places for People 46.4% 6,631 9,707
Longhurst Group 35.6% 1,853 2,512

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