Our social purpose is alive and well

This week I’ve received letters from residents, politicians and campaigners about the “selling off of social housing”.

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They are asking us to reconsider sales of empty properties on the grounds that Peabody should be providing more social housing, not less.

I agree that all our efforts should be towards this goal, and our asset management programme helps us to do exactly that.

The reality is that this is standard practice in the sector and a vital part of fulfilling our social purpose.

The proceeds from the limited sales when properties are empty allow us to invest more in existing homes and estates and build more genuinely affordable homes than would otherwise be possible.

Research by Savills last year analysed the figures for the 150 housing associations who sold existing stock in the last three years.

They found that for every home sold, 6 new sub-market homes are built.

For us it is slightly different.

For every sale of an existing property we delivered nearly 20 new much-needed homes at genuinely affordable rents and for shared ownership.

Since merger in 2017 we have sold 60 empty properties in a range of boroughs.

Some of these were previously Intermediate Market Rent and Market Rent properties, but some were previously social rented homes.

I can understand why people are strongly opposed to this.

However, this is not the same as Right to Buy sales where the homes are not replaced.

To the end of January 2019 the new Peabody completed more than 1,140 new homes not including those for private sale or market rent.

Over half of these were for Social and London Affordable Rent and for key workers to rent.

Over 400 were for shared ownership.

Balanced against 60 sales in the same period we think we are making a positive difference.

There are times when we choose to sell individual properties based on the circumstances around refurbishment and maintenance.

There are other times when it is viable to convert former market homes to social tenancies.

From April we will be doing this on re-let which over time will provide hundreds of new social rented homes.

This is in addition to the new builds where we are seeking to maximise the number of genuinely affordable homes in each scheme.

We are doing all of this primarily using our own resources.

There is some public money but the shortfall between grant per unit and the cost of delivering each new home is significant.

Unfortunately, without us using our own resources there would be little or no new social housing at all.

I hope this goes some way to explaining why we do what we do.

Our social purpose is alive and well and we are investing more than ever before to provide quality homes for people on lower incomes across London.

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