Wednesday, 23 December 2015

That time of year

Anyone else noticed that there just aren’t enough hours in the day (or days in the week, weeks in the year etc)?  It’s the same with money – there’s just not enough to go round.  So I don’t know about you, but I find myself entering the traditional season of goodwill and time of new resolve pretty burned out and feeling more than a bit broke (metaphorically of course).  How will I have come out of it – or more pertinently how will the social housing world have come out of it - by the end of 2016?

As my brief for this blog was that it might be published before or after the festive season, you can view the following list both as what I want for Christmas and, because I’m sure it can’t all happen by then, my New Year’s resolutions.  But if by the year end we had all worked together to make a few simple1 things happen – wouldn’t the world look just a little bit better?

  1. We knew our customers – not just through their data, but through our shared humanity; that their hopes were our hopes;  that we provided a safety net when they are at their most vulnerable and that for those experiencing poverty we stood alongside them to help them escape. Something that would have to involve…
  2. …the replacement of the unworkable and catastrophic cap at LHA levels on rents with something developed between government and the sector which provides a different method of capping the Government’s exposure on benefit payments…
  3. …a cap that would be a good thing, because then the sector could be free to set rents at the levels we feel best suit our market and our purpose, not have government use rent levels as a proxy for controlling benefits.  And we might just find that then, as some went up, others would come down, alleviating hardship for many who find the term affordable rent an oxymoron.
  4. Hospitals with no patients awaiting suitable homes to be discharged to, because housing providers’ pivotal role in resettlement and re-ablement has finally been recognised.  You never know, we might even have Health, Housing and Social Care working together as some kind of trinity, as opposed to being, like Ancient Gaul, divided into three parts, none of which speak the same language.
  5. A strategy for land supply that keeps pace with the growing number of households and an obligation on the owners of that land to develop it in a reasonable timeframe or face financial penalty.  Surely 2016 should see the end to speculative land hoarding?
  6. The meaningful application of the principles of the Social Value Act to the sector’s supply chain so that it is made up of social businesses who share our passion and our values.  I’m particularly looking forward to the point when that applies to somebody in the IT supply chain because…
  7. ….2016 has to be the year when we get the sector out of the technology dark ages, and hook ourselves to IT suppliers who understand the meaning of the apparently difficult concepts of “customer”, “transformation” and “now”.
  8. An end to award dinners.  Nuff said I think, don’t you?
  9. And last on my list of wishes, could we have by the end of 2016 a sector that fully accepts a “profit for purpose” future, confident of our independence from Government, assertive of our right to be heard, proud of the profits we create, and unstinting in our commitment to use those profits in the service of those in greatest need?
Whether you’re suffering from a pre-Christmas burnout or a post New Year hangover, I hope at least one of these thoughts has cheered you up.

  1.  I lied about the simple.
Wishing you all a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year for 2016

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