He told delegates at the National Retail Consumer Conference in Stratford: “Government cuts and new restrictions over what little funding that is available mean that it is unlikely we will see any new social housing built in the lifetime of the present Government. This presents new opportunities for housing co-operatives, but also great challenges.”
But Mr Rodgers said the Co-operative Movement could still make its mark in the sector by establishing a new investment bank to fund housing co-operatives. A feasibility study on such an initiative is currently under way, he explained.
He also urged retail societies to manage their property portfolios in a socially responsible way and “help develop much-needed affordable housing co-ops for the communities they serve”.
Mr Rodgers gave a brief overview of the nature of the housing sector in the UK and analysed prospects for co-operative and social housing.
He said: “Although the UK’s co-operative housing sector is small — just 0.6 per cent of the total housing stock — it is punching well above its weight and co-operative tenants are the most satisfied of all social housing tenants on every measure, according to an independent survey carried out by the Tenant Services Authority, the regulator of social housing in England.”
Mr Rodgers also explained the findings of the independent Commission on Co-operative and Mutual Housing in its 2009 report ‘Bringing Democracy Home’ (www.ccmh.coop) and said the Commission had also found high satisfaction among tenants.
Members, he said, gained skills that are useful in other aspects of their lives as well as benefiting from living in communities that are socially, economically and environmentally sustainable.