G15 calls on the Chancellor to give certainty to the sector in the Spring Budget

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has an opportunity to show the government’s commitment to tackling the housing crisis when he delivers the Spring Budget on March 6th.

The G15 group of London’s leading housing associations has today set out a range of measures that would provide the sector with long-term certainty, enabling vital investment in existing homes and services, support for residents and development of much-needed new housing.

G15 members, who own or manage 850,000 homes nationwide, are calling for the following measures to be announced:

  • A ten-year, index linked, rent settlement and the reintroduction of rent convergence;
  • An updated Decent Homes Standard with funding to deliver;
  • Awarding the remainder of the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund;
  • Doubling the duration of the Affordable Homes Programme for greater funding predictability;
  • Welfare reform to support customers struggling with the cost of living;
  • Extending the building safety fund to affordable rented homes;
  • VAT relief for repairs.

Fiona Fletcher-Smith, Chair of the G15, said: “G15 members are investing record amounts to ensure the safety and quality of our existing homes, improve services, build new homes and work towards achieving net zero by 2050. This investment requires long-term planning and commitment, but we are operating in an environment that is filled with uncertainty.

“Key for us is the uncertainty around rents, and so we are calling for rent convergence to be reinstated with a cast-iron commitment to indexation. A reintroduction of rent convergence would also provide fairness by ensuring residents pay comparable rents based on the size of their property and location.

“We are calling for greater clarity on funding, to give the sector confidence when making long-term business plans and forging partnerships. The Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund and Affordable Homes Programme should be longer and more flexible, with indexation to account for current and future cost inflation. We also want to see an updated Decent Homes Standard with funding to deliver it, and the Building Safety Fund should be made available to social and affordable rented homes, rather than just leaseholders.

“Last year, members invested £1.5bn into repairs and maintenance, equivalent to over £2,000 per home, and it’s likely that this figure will be even higher this year. In addition, we will be investing at least £4 billion to deal with the building safety crisis and estimate it will cost at least £11 billion to meet net zero by 2050. This is putting enormous pressure on our capacity and so we are calling for VAT to be removed from housing association activity. The irrecoverable VAT for just one G15 member is £30m per year – money that we could be investing in homes.”

Fiona added: “Making the case for long-term investment isn’t limited to tackling the immediate and critical issues of undersupply and affordability. Every £1 invested in social housing delivers at least £2.70 in economic benefits, supporting long-term growth and underpinning local jobs, skills and supply chains.

“The Spring Budget is an opportunity to grasp the potential of investing in our homes. This will mean we can finally start to imagine a future where everyone has a place to call home, in a community that supports them to live well.”