Housing associations in the United Kingdom are independent not-for-profit bodies that provide low-cost "social housing" for people in housing need. Any trading surplus is used to maintain existing homes and to help finance new ones. They are now the United Kingdom's major providers of new homes for rent, while many also run shared ownership schemes to help people who cannot afford to buy their own homes outright.
Housing associations provide a wide range of housing, some managing large estates of housing for families, while the smallest may perhaps manage a single scheme of housing for older people. Much of the supported accommodation in the UK is also provided by Housing Associations, with specialist projects for people with mental health or learning disabilities, with substance misuse problems (drugs or alcohol), the formerly homeless, young people, ex-offenders and women fleeing domestic violence.
Funding and regulationEdit
Housing associations are funded and regulated by a variety of organisations, depending on where they are based.
- In England, housing associations are funded and regulated by the Housing Corporation, a non-departmental public body or quango that reports to the Department for Communities and Local Government.
- In Northern Ireland, the same role is carried out by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive.
- In Scotland, this function is fulfilled by Communities Scotland, an executive agency of the Scottish Executive Development Department.
- In Wales, the regulation and funding of housing associations is carried out by the Welsh Assembly.
Registered Social Landlord (RSL) is the technical name for social landlords that are registered with, The Housing Corporation - most are housing associations, but there are also trusts, co-operatives and companies.
Since 2003, in an effort to seek greater value for money, much of the funding by the Housing Corporation for new house building has been channelled to fewer than 80 "developing housing associations" that have achieved "partner status" through Partner Programme Agreements.
A feature of Housing Associations is that, although the larger Housing Associations usually have paid staff, a committee or board of management made up of volunteers has overall responsibility for the work of the organisation. A board might include residents, representatives from local authorities and community groups, business people and politicians. There are more than 30,000 voluntary board members running housing associations throughout England.