Housing sector urged to think long-term

The social housing sector may be compromised if short-term cost savings are prioritised over longer-term needs, according to major research published today by Zurich Municipal and Ipsos MORI.

According to the research, two thirds of public sector leaders agree that short-term budget challenges will prevent them from addressing longer term risks effectively.

The research, which canvassed the views of the general public as well as those in charge of delivering public services – including housing providers – revealed a consensus that spending cuts represent the major strategic challenge to the sector.

Half of public sector leaders fear that budget cuts may impair their organisations’ ability to deliver services. Many also have concerns that spending reductions could prompt financial loss and reputational damage.

The research highlights a 'triple front' of challenges: in addition to budget cuts, increasing demand for services and uncertainty about implementing the new government’s reforms such as the 'big society' could also trouble public service delivery over the next five years.

In housing, 44 per cent of the public are concerned that there will be insufficient supply of affordable housing to meet demand in the future.

In addition, housing providers are worried that budget cuts will affect their ability to invest in existing stock.

"Unquestionably, now is a crucial time for public services, with major decisions being made about how and where to drive cost savings," said Zurich Municipal’s acting head of housing Mick Kelly.

"Faced with the understandable need to focus on short-term delivery and cost reduction, it is difficult for public service managers to pay sufficient attention to the significant long-term risks ahead, and the need to plan for them now.

"These challenges require a careful approach focused not just on the immediate issues facing public services, but also on the impact of some of the long-term problems as well. Without this dual focus, there will be considerable risks and costs ahead.

"We therefore urge all public service organisations, as a matter of priority, to ensure their response to today’s challenges takes into account tomorrow’s needs."


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