The social housing sector is beginning to recognise there is much it can do to in this reset UK society is reflecting upon as we come out of this third lockdown. The National Housing Summit organised by the NHF had a number of sessions where the debate centred around, disproportionality and disparities in the makeup of housing organisations governing bodies, chief executives and senior management teams in the housing association movement. Equality, diversity and inclusion is now central to the debate, with the NHF new code of governance giving a nod to the social housing sector to change its ways and make EDI central to strategic and succession planning moving forward.

The Mayor of London’s Sadiq Khan’s, GLA in it’s new affordable housing programme 21/26 have given clear directives outlining that “All investment partners will be contractually required to meet minimum standards within one year of their grant allocation being approved by the GLA. These standards seek to implement the Mayor’s Good Work Standard ‘diversity and recruitment’ pillar and are being introduced to reflect the Mayor’s commitment to ensuring London is a more equal, diverse and inclusive city for all. This is a welcomed direction of travel, and we watching closely to see what impact these policy directives will have. But what’s more concerning is the question of supply when it comes to affordable homes, and even more importantly for BME communities and particularly, Black African, Black African Caribbean and Black British when we consider homes for Social Rent. This demographic relies on and is more likely to need homes for social rent, owing to the disparities in poverty, homelessness, the economics of discrimination, higher unemployment, lack of opportunity etc.

With the UK government and the Mayor of London not meeting targets of building new affordable homes, the news that the number of council and housing association homes being let at social rent fell by 210,000 between 2012 and 2020, from the Chartered Institute of Housing’s (CIH) UK Housing Review makes grim reading when analysed from the perspective of BME communities future potential demands.

The annual report by the CIH found that UK-wide 280,000 social rent homes have been sold, converted to higher rents, or demolished since April 2012, while just 70,000 new social rent homes have been built.

Reduction in Homes

Right to Buy sales, which accounted for 120,000 homes, and conversion to higher affordable rent tenures, which accounted for 116,000 homes, were the two biggest reasons for the loss of social rent homes. If the math doesn’t add up, who is there to lobby and advocate for those most in need? And what will the fallout be if we do not arrest the demise of homes for social rent?

According to the review, the supply of social rented homes is likely to decrease further as a result of the pandemic. Just 10,531 affordable homes of all types were started under grant-funded programmes in the first half of 2020/21, compared with 17,980 for the same period in 2019/20. While the government has promised to deliver 32,000 social rent homes outside of London in the next five years, this is just 4,000 more in the previous five years and is not enough to replace homes that will be lost through Right to Buy sales, the report warns.

To his credit, the Mayor of London, has added to his Affordable Homes Funding Guidance, The GLA particularly encourages bids that demonstrate partnership working with Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic housing associations in development, service delivery or staff development amongst other strategic objectives, where larger Registered Providers will have to engage partners at a more local level to deliver new homes.

But question must be asked what difference is this going the really make to addressing the disparities in housing need, and what will it take to tackle this conundrum? Is it ok for us to accept the status quo, when it can be argued there’s more need for equity in the game of accessing affordable housing. These and many other questions BMELL will be seeking to answer as part of its project programmes in the coming year. The BMELL collaboration have established three key initiatives which it is developing with partners social housing sector over the next 18 months. They are as follow:-

Social Housing Anti Racism Initiative

Objectives

  1. Provide challenge to the social housing sector to drive action on Anti Racism
  2. Promote actions and targets that RSL’s should be held accountable for
  3. Drive engagement with Registered Providers around Anti-Racism

BMELL Tenants Forum

Objective

Empower BMELL Tenants to champion their voices so that they are heard separately to  influence policy and shape service delivery

Housing Manifesto for Change

Objective

The production Housing Manifesto for Change white paper concerning the disparities faced by BME tenants and BME Communities in social housing, with findings and recommendations  to influence and shape social housing sector policy

If you interested in finding out more about BME London Landlords project programme or are interested in finding out how you can support these initiatives please contact us at info@bmelondon.org