Social Housing Conference 2012 Proves That Those Who Dare - Will Win


In this expert commentary, Mitchell Charlesworth's Social Housing Partner, Paul Wainwright, looks back at the annual Social Housing Conference that took place in Liverpool on the 16th November, organised by Mitchell Charlesworth. Paul argues that the housing sector has to adapt and become more imaginative if it is to remain as one of the main providers of affordable housing:

Paul Wainwright

Mitchell Charlesworth hosted it's annual Housing Conference with co-sponsors Brabners Chaffe Street and Your Housing Group at the BT Convention Centre on 16th November, attended by over 150 delegates and exhibitors.

The theme "Who Dares Wins" now seems particularly relevant having had presentations from  Steve Rotheram a local Labour MP together with Julian Ashby from HCA and Derek Long from the National Housing Federation.

In the current climate, the theme seemed to be a need for collaboration and for the banks to start to working with (and not against) the sector, to allow the potential to deliver the much needed affordable homes required throughout the country.

Derek Long asked if the audience considered the reference to "Social Housing Providers" was still appropriate and on a show of hands it was unanimous that the term was no longer relevant and was in fact a block to the sectors progression. The term needs to change and we hope the representatives from the NHF and HCA will take this back with them and consider what action should be taken.

A number of the speakers and also the representatives on the question and answer panel from Riverside. Vicinity and Your Housing referred to the need for greater collaboration and the potential for central or collective buying of products and services. This would be an extension to areas where some associations are already using buying groups to obtain products and services at better prices and we await with interest how this may develop over the next year.

Some of the workshops on the day dealt with major issues for the sector such as :

  • Welfare reform
  • RTI for Payroll
  • Auto Enrolment
  • Implementation of IFRS's
  • VAT cost sharing groups
  • Funding Capacity Issues

Associations will need to take positive steps on a number of the above and we encourage them to contact their advisors for assistance and guidance at an early opportunity. Other areas need them to be aware of  the situation and plan to meet with for example funders early in the process to ensure the right and best result can be obtained.

This year the conference saw the exhibition area again increase in popularity with delegates interacting well with the exhibitors throughout the day.

We hope to start early planning for the event next year in the hope we can extend all areas of the event even further, putting it on the housing map as an event for the whole country, not just the North West.

The theme was "Who Dares Wins" and I hope people took away the need to push boundaries and go where no SHP has been before. We are in changing times, with reduced funding, looking to provide even more properties. This means that the sector has to adapt and become more imaginative if it is to remain as one of the main providers of affordable housing.

So please engage with others in the same field and with your advisors to enable the sector to deliver the properties which are much needed for the tenants and for the impact they will have on the economy.

For more information about Mitchell Charlesworth's audit and accounting services to the Housing sector, contact Paul Wainwright on tel: 0151 255 2300 or email: paul.wainwright@mitchellcharlesworth.co.uk

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