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Opinion: The role of housing associations is changing

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Opinion: The role of housing associations is changing

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing

Opinion: The role of housing associations is changing Opinion: The role of housing associations is changing

By Shaun Doran, CEO, Furniture Resource Centre

Furniture Resource Centre’s completion of another market rent refurbishment for a housing association client demonstrates the ongoing transformation of the property market.

More housing associations are diversifying by providing market rents for private tenants, helping them to plug the funding gaps as budgets continue to be squeezed with austerity measures and welfare reforms.

Of course, it makes perfect sense for housing associations to seek new sources of income during these times of austerity. It does not mean they are avoiding their social responsibilities either as market rents can also offer a great deal to tenants who do not quite qualify for social housing but cannot afford to get onto the housing ladder.

These tenants can still be vulnerable and could fall prey to unscrupulous landlords, renting out unfit properties at sky high prices. The opportunity to have an ethical landlord and affordable rents will make a big difference to many tenants, helping housing associations to continue to meet their social objectives and keep their finances in order.

At Furniture Resource Centre we have been supplying furniture and white goods to housing associations across the country for over 25 years, and as the top ranked furniture supplier on the Procurement for Housing framework for eight years, our knowledge and experience of the market is unmatched.

We have seen many changes and developments in the social housing market and this is one which we believe makes sense for all concerned. In fact we believe this change is being so embraced across the sector that we are launching a new sector of our business to meet the demand – Buckingham Interiors, offering the high quality contract furniture standards we have always supplied, but coupled with an interior design offer and a more stylish range.

We recently supplied bespoke new furniture for the upgrade and refurbishment of 95 apartments in the prestigious Liverpool One city centre complex for the Plus Dane Group. This prime city centre location includes one, two and three bedroom units all being let fully furnished for private tenants.

Furniture Resource Centre, and Buckingham Interiors, are both social businesses so the benefit of Plus Dane using us to supply their furniture is the added social value we can provide – all of our profits are used to create more social value in our business, offering training schemes for long term unemployed, and helping families in need access good quality furniture. If housing associations consider their supply chain as their focus changes, and look at ways to increase their social value across the board, their ability to deliver positive change can be enhanced rather than diminished.

Market rents allow housing associations to meet their social objectives while demographics change and the needs of the housing market shift. Many low and middle-income families can now be helped by housing associations in schemes like Plus Dane’s and their rising influence in this market could help to stabilise private rent levels and push up the quality of the private rental sector, something which will benefit the whole sector.

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