Comprehensive Spending Review 2020 submission

24 September 2020

Housing associations can be at the heart of the nation’s economic and social recovery. We’re calling for a once-in-a-generation investment in social housing.

The government is currently planning a Comprehensive Spending Review for this autumn which will set out national spending plans for this parliament.

The three top priorities for the Review will be:

  • strengthening the UK’s economic recovery from COVID-19 by prioritising jobs and skills
  • levelling up economic opportunity across the country 
  • improving outcomes in public services

Investment in social housing can deliver on these priorities for the nation. It can boost the economy, create jobs and opportunities across the country, support the continuing fight against the virus and improve peoples’ lives at a time when our nation needs it most.

That’s why, as a founding member of the Homes at the Heart campaign, we’re calling for a once-in-a-generation investment in social housing in this year’s Comprehensive Spending Review.

Our submission sets out the vital role housing associations already play in these priorities - and what action and investment we need from the government to deliver even more.

To strengthen the economic and social recovery from coronavirus, the government should:

Build a new generation of affordable homes

  • Provide immediate certainty and stability to give housing association boards the confidence to sign off on ambitious plans, maintain delivery and create jobs.
  • Review the 2021-26 Affordable Homes Programme to maximise the sector’s counter-cyclical model and ensure homes remain viable for housing associations to develop. 
  • Deliver a fast-acting, broad-based economic and social stimulus by investing an additional £20bn in grant funding for 2021-31, to create a £32bn ten-year affordable housing fund. 
  • Make funding available upfront to remediate all unsafe cladding, to ensure residents’ safety and enable leaseholders affected by External Wall Fire Review (EWS1) issues to move home.
  • Support efforts to develop the evidence base for offsite manufactured products to overcome challenges that limit take-up.

Provide skills and job opportunities to get people into work

  • Bring together national departments and local housing partners to design and mobilise a response to the Chancellor’s Plan for Jobs.
  • Ensure that employment support meets needs across communities and enables social housing to deliver in partnership for recovery.
  • Use the UK Shared Prosperity Fund to leverage and sustain long-term employment support for vulnerable and disadvantaged households, in partnership with the social housing sector.








Kick start a retrofit revolution

  • Support housing associations and local authorities to lead a retrofit revolution, to help build supply chains and make a longer-term nationwide roll-out across all types of homes more achievable.
  • Deliver on the manifesto commitment to set up a £3.8bn Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund, allowing housing associations to bid for funds directly and over multiple years.
  • Provide a policy road-map to 2050, setting out the standards and requirements that housing associations will need to work towards to achieve the net zero ambition. 
  • Commit to work more closely with housing associations, residents, suppliers, lenders and investors to find solutions to the challenges that lie ahead on the road to net zero.




Level up economic opportunity across the country

  • Demonstrate long-term commitment to regeneration by investing at least £1bn of new funding each year over this decade, in addition to current UK and EU funding levels.
  • Develop a compelling national strategy for regeneration which targets the people and places in most need. 
  • Empower local areas to deliver joined-up regeneration suited to their own circumstances while contributing to national objectives.
  • Review the continued effectiveness of the Social Value Act, and the extent of social value commissioning across public expenditure.

Improve outcomes in public services

  • Ring-fence housing-related support and allocating £1.6bn per year to local authorities in England.
  • Invest in employment and skills programmes to give people the financial resilience they need to avoid homelessness.
  • Invest in homes for social rent to ensure that rough sleepers and people at risk of homelessness are supported into sustainable and affordable housing beyond the Next Steps Accommodation Programme.



Next steps 

The government has now confirmed that it will hold a one-year Spending Review in November. We’ll continue to make strong case for the contribution social housing can make to economic and social recovery, and for these policy asks to help housing associations deliver.

Our asks of the government are based on extensive consultation we’ve done with our members on our housing policy priorities for recovery over the summer, and represent a long-term plan for housing associations’ contribution to the recovery.

We’ll be talking to ministers, government departments, MPs and other stakeholders in the lead-up to the Spending Review and beyond, including as part of our Homes at the Heart campaign.