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Opinion: Fail small and fast

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Opinion: Fail small and fast

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing

Opinion: Fail small and fast Opinion: Fail small and fast

By Sheron Carter, chief executive, Gateway Housing Association

You can be forgiven for not noticing Gateway emerging as one of the key developing RPs under the 2015-18 funding programme.

Gateway is part of the North River Alliance led by Islington & Shoreditch Housing Association. Under this consortium, Gateway has secured an allocation of £7.132 million to develop 260 new homes. Over half of these are firm schemes as we have opportunities for redevelopment on our own land.

So, why are we pressing forward under this programme whilst others have stepped back? Well, there aren’t a huge amount of alternatives at present, we are in a better position to make it work as we benefit from the London factor, and we have capacity to deliver.

Like many others who have commented on this issue I am yet to be convinced that the switch from capital funding to revenue provides any real savings for the government in the long term or reduces benefit dependency. Recent reports indicate that benefits for working households are increasing as housing costs rise. I do hope that we will see a reversal of this policy in future years as I agree with the commentators that say ‘homes that are truly affordable require capital subsidy’.

In the meantime, the waiting lists increase and overcrowding in Gateway’s operational areas get progressively worse. More and more households are getting further away from being able to afford any type of housing without significant financial assistance. In these circumstances we cannot sit back and do nothing.

So, we will build as much social housing as we can with cross subsidy from private sales and shared ownership stair-casing receipts.

We anticipate £9.7m will be raised from these sources. We are happier that the 2015-18 programme enables us to offer a blend of discounted (similar to affordable) and capped (similar to target) rents. We have signed up to the East London POD rents so the maximum we will charge for affordable rent is 65% which reduces to 50% for larger homes. Is this enough to bridge the affordability gap? Probably not but the reach is closer than the alternatives.

Very few of us would choose to be where we are today. But it provides a great opportunity, particularly for the small to medium sized associations, to show what we can do in these constrained times. We cannot offer the scale but we can offer creativity and innovation, which collectively makes a huge difference. We need to be bold as we are managing greater risks but with sensible planning and robust controls, the risks can be managed.

One of the many downsides of Cosmopolitan is that it engenders a fear of failure. Our own self-limiting beliefs tell us we can’t when we can. I have not yet come across any success story that hasn’t encountered bumps in the road. So fail small enough to get over it and fast enough so it is not too much of a distraction. The lessons we learn from failure are invaluable and when we keep going it is amazing what we can achieve in the end.

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