UK co-op housing apex launches call for government action

The Confederation of Co-operative Housing wants the next government to help create an enabling environment to grow the sector

The Confederation of Co-operative Housing (CCH) has launched its Manifesto for Change, setting out recommendations to enable communities to shape their own housing futures.

Among measures suggested by the apex are legislation for “a bespoke form of co-operative tenure” and the creation of a financial intermediary to support the co-op housing sector.

‘The United Nations specialised agency for work, the International Labour Organisation, adopted its Recommendation 193 which provides a framework for renewed growth of the co-operative movement in 2002,” said CEO Blase Lambert. “To date, the UK government has not implemented this recommendation.

“CCH is calling on the next government to work in partnership with the UK co-operative movement to create this framework for co-operative growth.”

He added: “Our Manifesto for Change sets out a number of key recommendations to create a bespoke form of tenure and enabling financial, legal and regulatory frameworks that will drive growth in the UK housing co-operative and community led housing sector and also sets out proposals for the social housing sector that will significantly enhance resident voice, choice and control.”

CCH says its call for a co-op form of tenure would put the UK in line with “many other European countries where co-operative and community-led housing is more prevalent”.

It also wants the next government to “support the creation of appropriate structures to enable the co-operative
and community-led housing sector to group its asset base and leverage it to fund the development of new homes and refurbishment of existing properties”.

Related: CCH members gather to explore regulatory changes

And it wants to see a new financial intermediary to enable community land trusts to buy existing residential properties, “in particular from people struggling to afford individual home ownership at challenging interest rates, and hold them in perpetuity for community benefit”.

Such a body would also held the sector to assemble the debt finance needed to build new homes at scale by offering capital market support through guarantees and/or cash or asset backed endowment, says CCH.

CCH also wants to see appropriate financial structures developed to support multi-stakeholder investment models.

It also wants an extension to the provisions that exclude fully mutual housing co-operatives from Enhanced Rate Stamp Duty and Annual Tax on Enveloped Dwellings to include all forms of co-operative and community-led housing.

Ministers should also promote new forms of community-led housing, it says, including cohousing and mutual home ownership, and enable students to form student housing co-operatives to protect them from the private rental market.

Taxation, regulatory and planning systems should be reformed, it adds, “to re-establish housing as a social aim rather than as an investment product, and enable the co-operative and community-led housing sector to work in partnership with regional and local government through access to the Public Works Loan Board, and by the creation of a presumption in favour of co-operative and community-led initiatives in public land disposal and the
planning system”.

For housing associations, all residents should be given a right to manage, says CCH, and the Four Million Homes programme, which gives residents information about their rights and options for shaping how their landlords deliver services and manage homes, should be extended.

And it calls on government to “reshape social housing and enable residents to take real power so that standards and behaviours change”.

This would mean:

  • requiring all housing associations to have resident board members who are appointed for their skills and knowledge;
  • creating a nationally accredited resident Board member training and support programme;
  • exploring models of mutual governance, creating options for residents to establish mutual ownership of their housing association landlord, and establishing government measures to derisk the lending community of its perceptions that community control is inherently riskier

CCH also wants to see a return of the National Resident Voice, “with independence from government and landlord bodies, to represent social housing residents interests, promote resident empowerment and provide advice and support”.

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