International Housing Partnership – Manchester 2018

The International Housing Partnership was held 1-5 October in Manchester with CEO leaders from UK, USA, Canada, and Australia coming together. PowerHousing was also accompanied by Calvin Garrett who is one of our Rising Star winners. Calvin attended parts of the IHP, met with UK Gems (UK Rising Stars) and also attended the post-event Housing Association immersion.

Our engagement across the week considered:

  • Member Exchange – coming together as a learning community both amongst the agenda and in the informal;
  • Housing an international priority – similar to Australia and Canada, the UK now has some federal political momentum for housing;
  • Financial sophistication for the sector is growing – housing is on the cusp of recognition as a global asset class – there is potential for an international collaboration across the countries with steering groups across the countries to come together in November;
  • Socially responsible investments – there is strong support for investment internationally. Stunning track record in finance – 39 nine years without a default. (We need to look closer at SRIs).
  • Devolution of housing responsibilities – from central government is underway in the UK. Devolution is about improving the standard of living for all our communities and making important decisions closer to where their impact will be felt;
  • A particular policy coming into focus is the concept of Universal Credit – this is a United Kingdom social security payment that is intended to simplify working age benefits and to incentivise paid work. It replaces six means-tested benefits and tax credits: income-based Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Housing Benefit, Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit. Delays of payments and the question of inequity of payment were raised which is impacting rental arrears;
  • Concepts such as the Right to Buy scheme in the UK which gives secure tenants of councils and some housing associations the legal right to buy, at a large discount, the council house they are living in was discussed. Over 1,500,000 homes in the UK have been sold in this manner since the introduction of the scheme in 1980.
  • IT and digital transformation – there were differing perspectives on the ways forward – but ultimately the need to challenge the thinking.
Some key session takeouts:
  • Greater collaboration requirements to keep on top of the additional wraparound services is now a given for Community Housing;
  • Despite the scale, differences all countries represented are remarkably similar;
  • Not losing sight of what the ‘social’ in social housing is;
  • Shared ownership concepts of key interest to the group;
  • Homelessness is growing across all major capital cities.
Housing Association immersion – Monday 8th October – Hyde Housing, London. PowerHousing delegates met with Hyde Housing, which has 50,000 homes in London and the South East and develops 1,200 homes each year. In particular the site visit looked at the audit process for the aluminium-polyethylene cladding which caused the fire at Grenfell.
  • Our group inspected a multi-residential tower which had confirmed APC which was in the process of being removed. Complicating the remediation efforts, Hyde have been told to halt the recladding efforts made to date as the replacement cladding was to be recertified (despite being listed on the compliant cladding lists).
Housing Association immersion – Tuesday 9th October – Notting Hill Genesis, London. PowerHousing met with Notting Hill Genesis to review their operations before visiting a large regeneration scheme. PowerHousing members saw first-hand the merger structure that made this housing association one of the largest in the world, totalling 64,000 homes with a development pipeline of 11,000 homes underway over the next 5 years.
  • Our group focused on reviewing the Graeme Regeneration project which is a scale redevelopment of a 45 year-old community complex. The regeneration is partially complete with a significant impact made on the aesthetics, transport/pedestrian movement corridors, with mixed retail and green spaces drastically changing the built environment, reducing criminal activity and improving social impact outcomes.
Manchester City Deals
With City Deals being a focus in the Australian policy landscape we also undertook meetings in with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority which is the home of the Greater Manchester City Deal concept to discuss City Deals which have been operational for several years. Australia has several city deals and our engagement here is vital to our advocacy for housing components of any future City Deal or City Partnership.

Our delegation met with the directors of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), with the following enabling structure and elements of the City Deal considered:

– The MOU structure of the 10 Greater Manchester local government areas that represent the 2.8 million residents;
– The devolution principles that underpin the MOU and the strategies that flow;
– The Greater Manchester Strategy produced by GMCA illustrates a focus on securing growth, increasing productivity and fostering independence and self-reliance for residents. These broad strategic objectives are supported by a strong spatial and locality focus to delivering positive change
– £300m housing fund established by the GMCA which is part of the Greater Manchester Devolution Agreement with features that include:
  • Ten-year committed local government funding
  • Publicly committed to 21 schemes as of July 2017
  • Traditional development finance to support housing growth across Greater Manchester
  • Set up to encourage, accelerate and unlock residential housing schemes
  • Available for private sector-led schemes
  • Competitive pricing and lending structures
  • Bespoke structures developed to suit specific funding requirements
  • All residential sector schemes considered (within Greater Manchester geography
  • Stretch senior debt and mezzanine finance options. Equity investment will be considered
  • Upfront infrastructure funding considered case by case
  • Any loan size considered between £500,000 and £30million
The Housing Finance Corporation
Members also met with Piers Williamson in the UK at THFC to provide updates beyond our Australian Member Exchange Conference at which he was an international keynote and on the post-IHP tour to update on the NHFIC next steps.