Social Housing Epwin Group

What’s driving change in social housing design and build?

Are the factors different now than they were 10 years ago? Epwin Group is the UK’s leading manufacturer and supplier of PVC-U windows, doors and fascia systems and includes market leading brands such as Profile 22, Spectus and Swish. In collaboration with the Housing Quality Network, they have surveyed UK social housing professionals from across the UK to establish the answers to these questions.

The ‘Building for the Future’ social housing project tackles these questions, combining the results of this survey with in-depth interviews and desktop research.

This research follows the original ‘Building for the Future’ research project, published by Epwin Group in early 2018, which asked architects what they thought would affect housing design and build over the coming decade.

Andrew Reid, Commercial Sales Director of Epwin Window Systems, said: “At Epwin Group we have placed innovation at the heart of everything we do, constantly developing new solutions and technologies to meet the demands of an ever evolving built environment.

“To do this we must always be listening, learning and better understanding the challenges facing our customers.

“Epwin has a proud history of working in social housing, and over 40 years and thousands of installations has learnt that social landlords have their own unique demands.

“So we decided to ask social housing professionals what’s driving change in the design and build of social homes and examine the factors specific to that sector.

The research findings make for interesting reading, and Epwin Group is happy to share some of the key findings in the following report – we hope you find it useful.”

The Research Project

The survey asked social housing professionals to score 20 factors for their impact on social housing design and build.

This research project examines the top 10 factors that social housing professionals believe will have the most significant impact on social housing design and build over the coming decade versus the last.

The table below shows the top 10 most significant factors for the next 10 years, what they scored for the last 10 years and the percentage change.

20%
40%
60%
80%
100%
67%
78%
11% Difference
67%
78%
11% Difference
61%
67%
6% Difference
56%
67%
11% Difference
28%
67%
39% Difference
50%
56%
6% Difference
17%
44%
27% Difference
22%
44%
22% Difference
17%
44%
27% Difference
39%
39%
0% Difference
Lack of land for development
Lower Budgets
An Ageing Population
Demand
Building Safety
Welfare Reform
Increasing Urban Populations
Length of Viability of Building
Future Proofing
Creating Sustainable Communities
- Last 10 Years
- Next 10 Years
 

To learn more download the full research paper here.

Left Quote There has been a cumulative shortfall of 182,880 homes over the last six years Right Quote

Lack of land for development

The lack of available land for development has the joint-highest number of respondents (78%) who view it as a significant factor in social housing design and build in the last decade. It was also considered by the joint-highest number of respondents (67%) to be a significant driver in the previous decade.

There is a significant gap between the UK’s housebuilding output and the number of houses needed to meet demand.

In order to meet current demand and newly-arising need, an average of 78,000 additional affordable homes are required in England each year between 2011 and 2031. The actual number of completed homes is considerably below that figure. On average 47,520 additional affordable homes have been provided in England each year since 2011, leading to a cumulative shortfall of 182,880 homes over the last six years. (jrf.org)

Many believe that the root of this problem lies within our land trading industry.

To learn more download the full research paper here.

Lower budgets

Lower budgets, along with lack of land for development, was identified by the joint-highest proportion of survey respondents as being a significant factor affecting social housing and design, over both the coming decade (78%), and the last (67%).

The 2015 budget announced that there would be mandatory requirements from April 2016 to reduce social housing rents by 1% a year for four years. Combined with wider continued funding cuts, this has put housing associations under immense financial pressure.

Rent is the largest source of income for almost all social housing businesses. Any reduction in rental income means that housing associations have less money to spend on the development of new homes.

To learn more download the full research paper here.

Left Quote The 2015 budget announced a mandatory requirement to reduce social housing rents by 1% a year for four years Right Quote
Left Quote The number of over 85s is increasing by over 3% a year Right Quote

An ageing population

Some 67% of respondents identified our ageing population as a significant concern for the next decade. This is an increase of 6% from the number of respondents who consider this to have been a significant factor for social housing design and build in the last decade.

When you look at the statistics it’s clear to see why so many consider this a significant issue. The scale of population ageing is massive: the number of over 65s is increasing by 2.5% a year, while the number of over 85s is increasing by over 3% a year. It is predicted that by the mid-2030s, there will be over 16 million older people, with nearly 3 million of them being over 85. (ageukmobility.co.uk)

Although social landlords provide most specialist housing, the pace at which additional units are being developed is vastly outstripped by the growth of the older population.

To learn more download the full research paper here.

Demand

The level of demand for housing is a concern for the coming decade identified by 67% of social housing professionals surveyed. Fewer respondents (56%) identified this as having had a significant impact on social housing design and build over the past decade.

The number of homes available for social rent in England has reached a record low. In fact there has been a downward trend in the number of social houses since figures started to be recorded in their current form. Over the last nine years the number of homes let for social rent has fallen from 366,820 to 334,602. (theguardian.com)

Whilst the numbers of social homes available is in decline, demand is high. There are more than 1.8 million households on the waiting list for a social home, an increase of 81% since 1997, with two thirds having been waiting for more than a year. (Shelter analysis of English Housing Survey 2010/11)

Demand for new homes is not going to slow down, with population of England projected to rise by 17% by 2039. (gov.uk)

To learn more download the full research paper here.

Left Quote There are more than 1.8 million households on the waiting list for a social home. Right Quote
Left Quote The current system for implementing fire safety measures is not fit for purpose. Right Quote

Building Safety

Building safety was the factor that showed the largest shift in the proportion of survey respondents considering it to be a concern influencing social housing design and build for the coming decade (67%) in comparison to those identifying it as a factor over the last decade (28%).

This increase in significance is not surprising when you consider that the Grenfell fire, which tragically killed more than 70 people and left hundreds without permanent homes, remains fresh in the memory and at the forefront of the housing agenda.

Dame Judith Hackitt’s review into the fire makes it very clear that poor oversight in the building industry led to a “race to the bottom”, and that the current system for implementing fire safety measures is not fit for purpose. (gov.uk)

The review calls for major reform and a change of culture, with responsibility very clearly placed on everyone involved to manage risk, with greater clarity and accountability over who is responsible for building safety during construction, refurbishment and on-going management of high rise homes. It requires that the government does more to set and enforce high standards.

To learn more download the full research paper here.

Welfare Reform

Over half (56%) of social housing professionals surveyed believe that Welfare Reform will have a significant impact on social housing over the coming 10 years, up from 50% who feel that it has been significant over the last 10.

Over the last decade Welfare reform has been a major feature of government spending cuts. Significant changes to taxes and benefits have occurred to combat spiralling costs and with a view to simplifying the welfare system and encouraging recipients back into work.

Universal Credit and the so-called ‘Bedroom Tax’ were raised by respondents as being the most significant reforms in terms of their likely impact on social housing design and build.

To learn more download the full research paper here.

Left Quote Over the last decade Welfare reform has been a major feature of government spending cuts. Right Quote
Left Quote The population of the UK is set to pass 70 million for the first time by 2029. Right Quote

Increasing Urban Populations

The population of the UK is set to pass 70 million for the first time by 2029. The majority of UK residents choose to live in our towns and cities – in 1950, the population living in UK cities was 79%, this figure is set to rise to 92.2% by 2030.

Some 44% of those surveyed see this as a significant issue for social housing for the coming decade, up from 17% who saw it as significant for the last, an increase of nearly 30%.

Nowhere is the UK housing crisis being more acutely felt that in our ever popular urban areas where demand outstrips supply.

Increased demand, coupled with a lack of housing, is driving up prices and is affecting the quality of what is being constructed.

To learn more download the full research paper here.

Length of Viability of Building and Future proofing

With the quality of new build homes under scrutiny it’s little wonder that almost half of social housing professionals consider the length of building viability and the need to future proof stock and supply as significant factors for housing design and build over the coming decade. In both cases, the survey has identified a significant shift in how important these factors are perceived to be, up from around a fifth of respondents considering them to have been a significant factor over the last decade.

The length of viability of a building refers not only to how long that building will be able to house people, but also how viable that building is for residents in different life stages. It is about quality and adaptability.

Similarly, future proofing is not simply about ensuring a building remains useful many years into the future, it is also about future proofing the supply of housing to meet demand.

To learn more download the full research paper here.

Left Quote The Government is starting to talk about how the quality and quantity of housing can be improved. Right Quote
Left Quote Government stated that it was championing a series of policies to get empty buildings back into use. Right Quote

Creating Sustainable Communities

Close to 40% of social housing professionals believe that Creating Sustainable Communities will be a significant factor in the design and build of social housing over the coming decade, the same number who saw it significant over the last.

The Institute for Sustainable Communities defines a sustainable community as; “…one that is economically, environmentally, and socially healthy and resilient. It meets challenges through integrated solutions rather than through fragmented approaches that meet one of those goals at the expense of the others. And it takes a long-term perspective – one that’s focused on both the present and future, well beyond the next budget or election cycle.” (iscvt.org)

Many survey respondents do not feel that the majority of housing developed over the last decade reflects the ethos and ideals of a sustainable community. However, most are in agreement that this is an important consideration and should be at the heart of planning any new developments.

To learn more download the full research paper here.

Conclusion

This project has highlighted a number of factors which the social housing community believe will have a significant impact on social housing design and build over the coming decade. These issues are likely to affect delivery of the quantity, quality and flexibility of homes required to meet demand.

With demand for housing consistently outstripping supply, and the UK’s ever increasing urban populations, increased pressure is being placed upon social housing providers to deliver more homes. However, lower budgets, the financial pressure being caused by Welfare Reform, and the high cost of land, are all negatively affecting their ability to develop anywhere near the numbers needed.

As the housing deficit increases every year, and house prices are pushed further up, many fear that it is an almost impossible task to meet current, yet alone future, demand.

With concerns regarding quality, safety and the type of homes being developed, the survey has painted a rather bleak picture of UK social housing. However, there is hope and despite these pressures some consider the UK to be at a turning point in its delivery of social housing.

Post-Grenfell, housing is high on the political agenda; increased funding is being promised by the government and there is a belief that more homes will be built and that improvement of new build quality will be driven by stricter standards. Many also believe that homes will be built with greater adaptability to suit the needs of our changing population, and that they will be constructed within sustainable communities which better meet the needs of their residents.


To learn more download the full research paper here.

Download ‘Building for the Future’ full research here.

If you have any questions, a media enquiry or you would like to share your opinions on Building for the Future, please get in touch commerical@epwin.co.uk.

Epwin Group

Registered Office: 1B Stratford Court, Cranmore Boulevard, Solihull, B90 4QT. Registered in England: 7742256.

Social Housing Epwin Group

What’s driving change in social housing design and build?

Are the factors different now than they were 10 years ago? Epwin Group is the UK’s leading manufacturer and supplier of PVC-U windows, doors and fascia systems and includes market leading brands such as Profile 22, Spectus and Swish. In collaboration with the Housing Quality Network, they have surveyed UK social housing professionals from across the UK to establish the answers to these questions.

The ‘Building for the Future’ social housing project tackles these questions, combining the results of this survey with in-depth interviews and desktop research.

This research follows the original ‘Building for the Future’ research project, published by Epwin Group in early 2018, which asked architects what they thought would affect housing design and build over the coming decade.

Andrew Reid, Commercial Sales Director of Epwin Window Systems, said: “At Epwin Group we have placed innovation at the heart of everything we do, constantly developing new solutions and technologies to meet the demands of an ever evolving built environment.

“To do this we must always be listening, learning and better understanding the challenges facing our customers.

“Epwin has a proud history of working in social housing, and over 40 years and thousands of installations has learnt that social landlords have their own unique demands.

“So we decided to ask social housing professionals what’s driving change in the design and build of social homes and examine the factors specific to that sector.

The research findings make for interesting reading, and Epwin Group is happy to share some of the key findings in the following report – we hope you find it useful.”

The Research Project

The survey asked social housing professionals to score 20 factors for their impact on social housing design and build.

This research project examines the top 10 factors that social housing professionals believe will have the most significant impact on social housing design and build over the coming decade versus the last.

The table below shows the top 10 most significant factors for the next 10 years, what they scored for the last 10 years and the percentage change.

To learn more download the full research paper here.

Left Quote There has been a cumulative shortfall of 182,880 homes over the last six years Right Quote

Lack of land for development

The lack of available land for development has the joint-highest number of respondents (78%) who view it as a significant factor in social housing design and build in the last decade. It was also considered by the joint-highest number of respondents (67%) to be a significant driver in the previous decade.

There is a significant gap between the UK’s housebuilding output and the number of houses needed to meet demand.

In order to meet current demand and newly-arising need, an average of 78,000 additional affordable homes are required in England each year between 2011 and 2031. The actual number of completed homes is considerably below that figure. On average 47,520 additional affordable homes have been provided in England each year since 2011, leading to a cumulative shortfall of 182,880 homes over the last six years. (jrf.org)

Many believe that the root of this problem lies within our land trading industry.

To learn more download the full research paper here.

Left Quote The 2015 budget announced a mandatory requirement to reduce social housing rents by 1% a year for four years Right Quote

Lower budgets

Lower budgets, along with lack of land for development, was identified by the joint-highest proportion of survey respondents as being a significant factor affecting social housing and design, over both the coming decade (78%), and the last (67%).

The 2015 budget announced that there would be mandatory requirements from April 2016 to reduce social housing rents by 1% a year for four years. Combined with wider continued funding cuts, this has put housing associations under immense financial pressure.

Rent is the largest source of income for almost all social housing businesses. Any reduction in rental income means that housing associations have less money to spend on the development of new homes.

To learn more download the full research paper here.

Left Quote The number of over 85s is increasing by over 3% a year Right Quote

An ageing population

Some 67% of respondents identified our ageing population as a significant concern for the next decade. This is an increase of 6% from the number of respondents who consider this to have been a significant factor for social housing design and build in the last decade.

When you look at the statistics it’s clear to see why so many consider this a significant issue. The scale of population ageing is massive: the number of over 65s is increasing by 2.5% a year, while the number of over 85s is increasing by over 3% a year. It is predicted that by the mid-2030s, there will be over 16 million older people, with nearly 3 million of them being over 85. (ageukmobility.co.uk)

Although social landlords provide most specialist housing, the pace at which additional units are being developed is vastly outstripped by the growth of the older population.

To learn more download the full research paper here.

Left Quote There are more than 1.8 million households on the waiting list for a social home. Right Quote

Demand

The level of demand for housing is a concern for the coming decade identified by 67% of social housing professionals surveyed. Fewer respondents (56%) identified this as having had a significant impact on social housing design and build over the past decade.

The number of homes available for social rent in England has reached a record low. In fact there has been a downward trend in the number of social houses since figures started to be recorded in their current form. Over the last nine years the number of homes let for social rent has fallen from 366,820 to 334,602. (theguardian.com)

Whilst the numbers of social homes available is in decline, demand is high. There are more than 1.8 million households on the waiting list for a social home, an increase of 81% since 1997, with two thirds having been waiting for more than a year. (Shelter analysis of English Housing Survey 2010/11)

Demand for new homes is not going to slow down, with population of England projected to rise by 17% by 2039. (gov.uk)

To learn more download the full research paper here.

Left Quote The current system for implementing fire safety measures is not fit for purpose. Right Quote

Building Safety

Building safety was the factor that showed the largest shift in the proportion of survey respondents considering it to be a concern influencing social housing design and build for the coming decade (67%) in comparison to those identifying it as a factor over the last decade (28%).

This increase in significance is not surprising when you consider that the Grenfell fire, which tragically killed more than 70 people and left hundreds without permanent homes, remains fresh in the memory and at the forefront of the housing agenda.

Dame Judith Hackitt’s review into the fire makes it very clear that poor oversight in the building industry led to a “race to the bottom”, and that the current system for implementing fire safety measures is not fit for purpose. (gov.uk)

The review calls for major reform and a change of culture, with responsibility very clearly placed on everyone involved to manage risk, with greater clarity and accountability over who is responsible for building safety during construction, refurbishment and on-going management of high rise homes. It requires that the government does more to set and enforce high standards.

To learn more download the full research paper here.

Left Quote Over the last decade Welfare reform has been a major feature of government spending cuts. Right Quote

Welfare Reform

Over half (56%) of social housing professionals surveyed believe that Welfare Reform will have a significant impact on social housing over the coming 10 years, up from 50% who feel that it has been significant over the last 10.

Over the last decade Welfare reform has been a major feature of government spending cuts. Significant changes to taxes and benefits have occurred to combat spiralling costs and with a view to simplifying the welfare system and encouraging recipients back into work.

Universal Credit and the so-called ‘Bedroom Tax’ were raised by respondents as being the most significant reforms in terms of their likely impact on social housing design and build.

To learn more download the full research paper here.

Left Quote The population of the UK is set to pass 70 million for the first time by 2029. Right Quote

Increasing Urban Populations

The population of the UK is set to pass 70 million for the first time by 2029. The majority of UK residents choose to live in our towns and cities – in 1950, the population living in UK cities was 79%, this figure is set to rise to 92.2% by 2030.

Some 44% of those surveyed see this as a significant issue for social housing for the coming decade, up from 17% who saw it as significant for the last, an increase of nearly 30%.

Nowhere is the UK housing crisis being more acutely felt that in our ever popular urban areas where demand outstrips supply.

Increased demand, coupled with a lack of housing, is driving up prices and is affecting the quality of what is being constructed.

To learn more download the full research paper here.

Left Quote The Government is starting to talk about how the quality and quantity of housing can be improved. Right Quote

Length of Viability of Building and Future proofing

With the quality of new build homes under scrutiny it’s little wonder that almost half of social housing professionals consider the length of building viability and the need to future proof stock and supply as significant factors for housing design and build over the coming decade. In both cases, the survey has identified a significant shift in how important these factors are perceived to be, up from around a fifth of respondents considering them to have been a significant factor over the last decade.

The length of viability of a building refers not only to how long that building will be able to house people, but also how viable that building is for residents in different life stages. It is about quality and adaptability.

Similarly, future proofing is not simply about ensuring a building remains useful many years into the future, it is also about future proofing the supply of housing to meet demand.

To learn more download the full research paper here.

Left Quote Government stated that it was championing a series of policies to get empty buildings back into use. Right Quote

Creating Sustainable Communities

Close to 40% of social housing professionals believe that Creating Sustainable Communities will be a significant factor in the design and build of social housing over the coming decade, the same number who saw it significant over the last.

The Institute for Sustainable Communities defines a sustainable community as; “…one that is economically, environmentally, and socially healthy and resilient. It meets challenges through integrated solutions rather than through fragmented approaches that meet one of those goals at the expense of the others. And it takes a long-term perspective – one that’s focused on both the present and future, well beyond the next budget or election cycle.” (iscvt.org)

Many survey respondents do not feel that the majority of housing developed over the last decade reflects the ethos and ideals of a sustainable community. However, most are in agreement that this is an important consideration and should be at the heart of planning any new developments.

To learn more download the full research paper here.

Conclusion

This project has highlighted a number of factors which the social housing community believe will have a significant impact on social housing design and build over the coming decade. These issues are likely to affect delivery of the quantity, quality and flexibility of homes required to meet demand.

With demand for housing consistently outstripping supply, and the UK’s ever increasing urban populations, increased pressure is being placed upon social housing providers to deliver more homes. However, lower budgets, the financial pressure being caused by Welfare Reform, and the high cost of land, are all negatively affecting their ability to develop anywhere near the numbers needed.

As the housing deficit increases every year, and house prices are pushed further up, many fear that it is an almost impossible task to meet current, yet alone future, demand.

With concerns regarding quality, safety and the type of homes being developed, the survey has painted a rather bleak picture of UK social housing. However, there is hope and despite these pressures some consider the UK to be at a turning point in its delivery of social housing.

Post-Grenfell, housing is high on the political agenda; increased funding is being promised by the government and there is a belief that more homes will be built and that improvement of new build quality will be driven by stricter standards. Many also believe that homes will be built with greater adaptability to suit the needs of our changing population, and that they will be constructed within sustainable communities which better meet the needs of their residents.


To learn more download the full research paper here.

Download ‘Building for the Future’ full research here.

If you have any questions, a media enquiry or you would like to share your opinions on Building for the Future, please get in touch commerical@epwin.co.uk.

Epwin Group

Registered Office: 1B Stratford Court, Cranmore Boulevard, Solihull, B90 4QT. Registered in England: 7742256.