Highlights from our 20th Anniversary Conference - Brighter Future: Innovations for post-covid-19 housing recovery

Brighter Future Annual Conference speakers

On the 14th October, we were delighted to connect virtually with over 100 housing professionals at our 20th anniversary conference: 'BRIGHTER FUTURE: Innovations for post-COVID-19 housing recovery'. Thank you to all who attended, we hope it provided you with insight on the future of social housing and useful innovations to help aid in post-Covid-19 housing recovery.

Our virtual conference kicked-off with Home Connections’ Founder & CEO, Ninesh Muthiah, sharing the findings of Home Connections’ new white paper on ‘The demand for social housing before & during Covid-19’. The report provides insights on the supply of social housing across the UK, the type of properties applicants are bidding for and analysis of the characteristics of these properties to inform future planning for allocations and the delivery of additional affordable homes. Ninesh said more social housing is needed in London and across the country. Sadly, the amount of social housing being built is insignificant in terms of numbers and so the gap continues to increase year on year between supply and demand.

At our first panel discussion, Brighter future? Long-term solutions for the housing sector, Rose Grayston talked about the challenges and opportunities for ‘left-behind’ communities after the pandemic and the need for flexible government funding to help improve poor housing conditions in the UK,

People from left behind places want to get involved in decisions on what is going to happen to their places. They want to be listened to…left behind neighbourhoods need street-by-street investment to bring homes up to standard and meet the net-zero carbon target"
- Rose Grayston, Project Manager at the No Place Left Behind Commission.

The panellist spoke in depth about their views on the new ‘levelling-up’ agenda and the pandemic’s effects on homelessness, "levelling up is important for communities to increase happiness in the area. People must feel at home in their neighbourhood" – Jo Richardson, President of Chartered Institute of Housing. And ideas for improving the homelessness crisis,

"Covid-19 exposed hidden homelessness. We saw a significant increase of single people approaching us. It highlighted the need for 1 bed and shared accommodation for people"
- Denise Gandy, Executive Director of Housing Demand for Homes for Haringey.

After the break, the second panel discussion presented some powerful viewpoints on preventing homelessness for domestic abuse survivors post-pandemic. The group stressed the need for ‘better connection’ between public bodies and victims/survivors, there is a real misidentification of victims of domestic abuse in terms of their status, with services being denied to women who are eligible. Opportunities need to be grasped at a local level, it might be a challenge and uncomfortable, but it's absolutely crucial" said Emily Fei from the Domestic Abuse Commissioner’s Office.

Steve Harriott and Ben Beadle, CEO of the National Residential Landlords Association, explained in detail how the new FairBonds National Deposit Bond Scheme will assist low-income households in the UK moving into the PRS and reduce the cost of claims paid to landlords.

Private landlords often struggle to deal with local authorities, because most local authority colleagues are not experts on dealing with claims. Landlords may decide in future not to work with this client group
- Steve Harriott, CEO of Tenancy Deposit Scheme.

Greg Campbell from Campbell Tickell discussed the responsibility of housing policy makers to be able to tackle current and future housing problems. And finally, Dave Loudon, founder of DTL Creative, and Arturo Dell, Home Connections’ associate director of data & technology, explained the cost of poor quality data and how businesses can utilise ‘dark data’.

Thank you to all 19 speakers who collaborated and shared their practical views and ideas on improving the housing sector for the better.

It’s been great hearing from attendees what their highlights were from the conference:

The conference was very interesting. It’s good to know that other authorities are facing the same challenges. I was interested to hear about the ‘levelling up’ initiative and ideas for resolving that. We have also, like other authorities, seen the demand for one bed properties increase significantly since Covid, mainly due to relationship breakdown probably from the lockdown. Overall, it was a great conference
- Jennie Young from Ryedale District Council.

If you were unable to attend, visit our website to access the full presentation, useful resources from the conference and Home Connections’ new white paper on ‘The demand for social housing before & during Covid-19’.

If you attended the conference, we'd love to hear your feedback, which parts you enjoyed and where you felt needed improving – take the survey.

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