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The Database

Updated in Autumn 2023, our list of social housing organisations details nearly 500 Key Housing Associations, ALMOs, TMOs, etc., accounting for more than 3.5 million housing units (either owned or managed). Where they are part of a group, this is indicated, and there are around a further 19 of these which, whilst they have their own name (and sometimes their own website), the contact details are the same as the group's.

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The database may be downloaded in Excel format here, and each entry includes a named contact with specification responsibility or influence, the number of units owned and/or managed, address, telephone number, website, email, and LinkedIn address. In terms of entries containing named email addresses, in the latest edition the percentage is 75%. Other email addresses are those such as info@, etc.

Non-subscribers may purchase the database separately for £85 + VAT by clicking here.

Sector Profile and Market

Overview
A large proportion of new affordable home construction is undertaken by the very largest social housing providers. According to Inside Housing, the top 50 biggest builders in the sector completed 42,024 homes in the UK in 2022-23. The previous year had seen 40,318 completions, representing an increase of 4.2%. Although the definitions are not precisely comparable, the Government’s data provides some context to the importance of this figure. It says that the total number of affordable homes completed in England, in 2021/22, was 59,175.

Around 76% of market stock owned or managed by housing associations is general needs housing, which is primarily social rental accommodation. According to AMA Research, housing associations accounted for around 60% of social housing stock (2017-18 data) and they form the largest not-for-profit group in the UK, working closely with both private and public organisations.

It is estimated that there are over 15,000 social housing providers in the UK. Many of these are small and manage a limited number of properties and do not, therefore, undertake quantitative housing construction.

In a Summer 2020 update, entitled ‘Social Housing – 5 Key Facts’, AMA Research made a number of notable points, including:

  • In order to meet the need for increasing the volume of affordable housing delivered each year, it is anticipated that there will be further use of offsite housing systems to enable faster completions and to counter the chronic decline in skilled trades. (See also ‘Bridging the affordable housing market gap through MMC’ – PBC Today, July 2023.)
  • Some of the larger housing associations have committed themselves to increasing their use of offsite housing systems. They are also looking to obtain more control of affordable housing delivery by moving away from the section 106 model towards self-delivery of homes on their own land.

New Housing Demand
Some years ago, in 2018, research commissioned by the National Housing Federation (NHF) and CRISIS found that, in order to meet demand, a supply of around 340,000 new homes was needed every year until 2031, and that some 145,000 of these should be affordable. Roll forward to 2023 and it is clear that the situation remains acute with the nation continuing to suffer from a significant shortfall in total housing.

August 2023 saw the publication of a comprehensive report into the affordable housing sector underlining the critical shortage in housing. 'Closing the Gap: Unlocking Investment to Address the UK's Affordable Housing Challenge' represents the culmination of six months of research by Octopus Real Estate, and it cites official government data showing that, in England in 2021/22, there were only 59,175 affordable homes completed – significantly short of NHF’s identified need for 145,000. (Note: social housing provision is a devolved issue in the UK - see Trade Organisations, below, for links to the bodies representing housing organisations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.)

Whilst the report highlights many substantial challenges that are facing the sector in terms of just maintaining current build levels (never mind increasing them), it does underline the prevalent market forces that can be expected to underpin the demand for new-build, affordable housing construction long into the future. 

The full report provides a valuable insight into the sector, including its financing and challenges and is a worthwhile study for those seeking an understanding of the situation at the current time.

According to an article by Competitive Advantage, many properties managed by social landlords are acquired as a result of Section 106 agreements, in which case they are often constructed to a relatively low specification by a private developer. However, when Housing Associations build their own properties, they tend to be to a higher specification, with a focus on minimising operating and maintenance costs. In these cases, development will involve an external architect or may be Design & Build.

Outlook
Despite the considerable deficit in the number of new homes being built compared to the requirements, short-term financing challenges are likely to provide a drag on the sector’s new build output.

In its Construction Industry Forecast 2023-2024, Glenigan explained that “… project-starts have settled back during 2022. Approvals have similarly fallen back sharply this year (2022). The declines may reflect the reappraisal by associations of projects’ viability following the sharp rise in construction costs over the last 18 months”. Looking ahead, it goes on to say “A further weakening in affordable housing project-starts is anticipated over the forecast period (2023-2024) as associations’ and other providers’ development activity is constrained by higher construction costs …..”.

Glenigan’s prediction of ‘further weakening’ in project starts is shared by the authors of Octopus Real Estate’s ‘Closing the Gap…’ report referenced above. Published in August 2023, it reports on the views of respondents to its survey and says, “….registered providers surveyed report an expected 22% reduction in their development pipelines over the short-medium terms….”

It also reports, “According to data from the Regulator of Social Housing’s (RSH) quarterly surveys, actual spending on development has plateaued in the last two years, and the coming years will see a reduction in development. The forecasted spend is expected to decrease from a peak of £17.1 billion in 2020/21 to £16.8 billion in 2022/23 (figure 1). Out of this £16.8 billion, £11.4 billion has already been allocated, leaving £5.2 billion uncommitted. This is significant because if registered providers continue to channel more funds into improving existing homes, many may have to withdraw from uncommitted projects”.

Refurb, Renovation and Retrofit
In terms of refurbishment and renovation, the ‘Closing the Gap’ report predicts that, in the coming years, spending on the existing housing stock will continue to increase, especially considering the government is reviewing the Decent Homes Standard and also the increased media focus on disrepair in the social housing sector. Therefore, it is expected that more money will be diverted towards managing, repairing and maintaining existing homes and the report explains that research shows that repairs and maintenance expenditure across the sector increased by over £1.5bn in just four years.

Achieving Net-Zero is also expected to be a major driver for refurb and renovation. In 2020, research into the decarbonisation plans of social landlords was undertaken by Inside Housing and they estimated that the potential cost of decarbonising the UK’s social housing stock was in the region of £104 billion.

Marketing Channels, Media and Events

Specific targeting of the sector by construction product and service providers is possible through focused trade events and media such as those listed below.

Journals / Online

HA - Housing Association Magazine

Inside Housing

HABM Housing Association Building & Maintenance

LABM Local Authority Building & Maintenance

Housing Today

HMM – Housing Management & Maintenance

The Developer

Public Sector Building News

Details of these, and over 330 other UK construction industry journals, including circulation data and named editorial contacts with email addresses, may be found here.

Trade Events

Housing 2024 - The Chartered Institute of Housing's annual conference is said to be the largest event in the social and affordable housing calendar.

Asset Management and Maintenance Conference and Exhibition

Housing Today Live

National Housing Summit

National Housing Federation Conferences and Webinars

Details of these, and over 190 other UK construction exhibitions, may be found here.

Other Resources

Housemark provides data and insights for organisations active in the UK housing sector. It is owned by the National Housing Federation and the Chartered Institute of Housing. Its members include over 350 social housing providers from across the UK - representing 3.8 million homes.

HousingExpert.com is a platform offering data on the development pipeline for the housing association sector as well as a range of information on housing association stock and finance.

Trade Organisations

The key representative bodies are:

Homes England
This is the UK Government’s agency set up to deliver housing. Its remit is to adopt a more commercial approach to acquiring, preparing, managing and developing land in areas of high demand. Its latest strategic plan was published in May 2023 and covers the period 2023 to 2028. It can be viewed here
Homes England on LinkedIn 
Homes England on X

G15
The G15 is a group of London’s largest housing associations.

Community Housing Cymru

National Federation of Tenant Management Organisations

National Housing Federation

Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations

Scottish Federation of Housing Associations