For years, the Housing Corporation (as was – and may be again, who knows?) has required Housing Associations to meet standards far in excess of building regulations when building new housing, with the result that social housing is more expensive to develop than private housing of an equivalent size and Housing Associations often have to reject the chance to acquire perfectly good property offered to them by developers 'off the shelf' for social rent because they do not meet some standard or other. The reason normally given for this is that the government likes to test ideas on housing associations before they are introduced as building regulations. There might have been an argument for this in the days of 100% grant, but not now that there is an unprecedented shortage of social housing and minimal grant. This is ridiculous – most of the people waiting for social housing would be overjoyed to be offered a brand new house of the type that a housing association might have to turn down and this sort of over-regulation is just slowing down the supply of affordable housing and making social housing more expensive. If something is such a good idea, just put it in building regs and have done with it. Leave housing associations and their tenants to decide what standards they want to set for their own accommodation – they are the ones who will have to manage and maintain it and they have the experience to recognise what will give them problems in the future.
Why does this idea matter?
Reducing the amount of regulation surrounding housing association development will speed up the supply of affordable housing and lower the cost of providing it. It will remove some of the disincentives for private developers to work with housing associations and help developing housing assocations to compete with the private sector.