The considerable presence of housing associations at the Labour Party Conference I described in my last post has, I hear, been replicated at the other party conferences. What explains the new-found interest in public affairs from our big housing associations?
Housing Association Chief Execs assumed the ‘mad’ and ‘disruptive’ policies that would ‘never work’ coming from Policy Exchange and Tim Leunig and others would be dropped as Ministers got into office and saw how things really worked.
As it is, they find themselves with the New Homes Bonus, a planning system being ripped up, being pressured to conform to Freedom of Information and having their pay publicly condemned – not to mentioned affordable rent, welfare cuts and fixed term tenancies. And they labour under the misapprehension (in my view) that a few housing associations who engaged early with the Tories in opposition and quickly in government helped design the current framework.
This time they don’t want to be left out of the game and it’s a matter of extreme self-interest to be part of Parties’ policy-making.
Despite the considerable sums they are collectively splashing on warm white wine, soggy canapés and sponsoring think tanks in Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester, it’s a good thing for them to be more involved.