Brian Johnson is the CEO of one of the UK’s leading affordable housing and care providers.
He speaks of what the July Budget, scheduled for Wednesday 8th July, should include.
“The upcoming Budget is being promoted as a stability Budget, with a continued focus on reducing the deficit,” he says.
Affordable Housing Firm’s CEO on What the Budget Should Include
He explains what the affordable housing sector needs: “For our sector, if we’re to continue to play a major part in tackling the housing shortage, stability and certainty are key. I have written before about how we are much more affected by the cyclical nature of the market than in the past and the constraints that this can create.”
Johnson continues: “For example, if market sales slow down there will be implications for our building pipeline. Similarly, further welfare reforms – particularly the benefit cap – will impact on the number or type of affordable homes that we’re able to build.
“Even in a stable market some associations, just like commercial house builders, will begin to hit gearing constraints and others could begin to run out of security to borrow against, causing building numbers to fall off a cliff.”
Johnson says what the Budget must do: “Many of these risks can be managed but a level of certainty from this Budget and into the future will allow us to deliver more for more people. That’s why sufficient and sustainable should be the watch-words for housing, both in this Budget and into the comprehensive spending review.”
He is clear about what the industry needs: “That means sufficient funding to maintain our building pipeline and mitigate risks from big policy changes, and sustainable funding for the longer term so we can be confident when we’re writing out business plans.”
However, he says that this is not just about delivering more homes: “It is also about the real social value we deliver on the ground.”
Johnson is planning ahead: “In September we’ll be publishing a report on what more we can do as an organisation and as a sector to enable more people in social housing or receiving social care to achieve more of their own ambitions – whatever that may mean for individuals.
“In the meantime, if it is to deliver real stability in the housing sector, this Budget needs to deliver certainty as well as savings. We know the headlines that could affect our sector in the coming years: welfare reforms, changes to the Right to Buy and perhaps even moves towards greater regulatory freedoms.”
Johnson concludes: “Ultimately the devil will be in the detail and the sooner we can respond to those details and adjust our business models, the better. This is true for us but more importantly for the people we serve.”1