Transformative transfers: growing capacities in UK social housing

28 Mar 2017

This study investigated the creation of successful non-profit housing providers through public housing transfers in the UK, for both the housing providers and government policies.

The study established that different capacities need to be developed at different stages, including during the policy design process, after transfer, in a 'settling-down', post-transfer period (two to five years), a consolidation period of up to a decade, and as a mature provider often involving significant changes in roles, staffing, resources and governance. 

The observations outline the broad UK context, how much it has changed, and is changing, and how it contrasts with Australia.

Key findings from the study are that: 

  • It is important to have an agency, or powerful group within government, (i.e. not the state public housing organisation as they represent an inevitably ‘narrow’ producer interest) leading housing system transformation. Stock transfer is a complex and serious issue in housing policies, with ‘whole of government’ interests, and it requires coherent government efforts to promote effective change.
  • The creation of a housing association sector in the UK has allowed a larger affordable rental sector to emerge than would have otherwise have been the case.
  • The UK sector has been robust, resilient and innovative in its housing delivery roles. The UK stock transfer experience poses useful questions for Australian states and territories and not-for-profit housing providers.
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