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Inquiry launched into future of housing associations

Words: Laura Edgar

The Communities and Local Government Committee is setting up an inquiry into the viability and sustainability of housing associations and is calling for evidence.

The committee, which monitors the Department for Communities and Local Government, says the inquiry would look at the proposed extension of the Right to Buy, featured in the new Housing Bill, and how it would affect the ability of housing associations to build and develop.

In addition, the committee is to consider other measures that the government has announced, including a cap on rents announced in the budget and the welfare reform proposals.

Clive Betts, chair of the committee, said: “Uncertainty around the extension of the Right to Buy scheme, and issues arising from the impact of welfare reforms and from changes announced in the budget, raise real questions about the future sustainability of housing associations.”

He said the inquiry would examine the effect on housing associations, in particular, their “ability to house their tenants and invest in building new homes” as well as the effect of government polices, “and the reduction in rental income announced in the budget”.

Speaking to The Planner, Kathleen Kelly, assistant director of policy and research at the National Housing Federation, said: “We welcome this inquiry into the future of housing associations. Housing associations are proud to have delivered 40,000 more affordable homes last year - a third of all new homes across the country - and are keen to do more.

“We welcome the opportunity to explore with the select committee and government the operating conditions that would help associations achieve their ambition to triple the new homes they deliver to 120,000 every year. A key part of that vision is expanding opportunities for homeownership and underpinning local economic growth which is good for both the national economy and the local community.”

The committee is asking for written evidence for the inquiry to be submitted by Friday 28 August, 2015.