Which side are you on?

A night that began in hope ended in despair. The result is even worse than predicted by the exit polls. A Conservative majority at the mercy of its right wing which is no friend of social housing or its tenants.
Those who will suffer the most are our current tenants and those in the future who will need high quality, well managed homes at a rent that they can really afford. Social housing has provided this for the whole of my life. It is now more at risk than ever. Current tenants will bear the brunt of the proposed £12b welfare cuts. The horrific implications of this are already well documented. Future tenants will be the casualties of further attacks on social housing which will cease to exist in its current form, unless the housing sector fights back.
Much has been said about the merits of the Homes for Britain campaign. Like the Labour Party it has failed to convince the electorate to vote in support  of its message. We now have a government who in the last five years have contributed to the housing crisis and one which now plans to make it worse not better. However well-intentioned and planned, this is not the outcome that those involved in the campaign wanted. A campaign that tried to be all things to all people has succeeded in convincing no body to support it, where it matters, at the ballot box. Any future campaign must involve our tenants and the wider public and concentrate on what we do best. In short, that is still social housing.
Looking forward the result is likely to increase the current rift in the housing sector to a chasm. Some will see the election of a Conservative government as an opportunity to expand and accelerate the move to more commercial ways of working justified by the lack of public investment. Social rent homes that are not subject to the right to buy will be converted to unaffordable rent or sold off to finance new development that are equally unaffordable. Eventually financial drivers will replace the original social values of these organisations and they will become indistinguishable from the private sector. Others will seek to honour their original values and strive, in ever more difficult circumstances, to preserve and protect social housing so that in future it is still available to those in the greatest need. There will come a time in the not too distant future when associations will have to decide “which side are you on?” A government that wants to destroy social housing or those we were set up to provide homes for? I know which side I am on. Do you?


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