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Greg Clark - Department for Communities and Local Government

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has altered, with retrospective effect, how private registered providers of social housing (commonly known as housing associations) are treated in the National Accounts. ONS has concluded that housing associations should have been classified as public rather than private since 2008, due to several of the regulatory requirements imposed by the Housing and Regeneration Act 2008 introduced by the previous Government. ONS will now apply this change retrospectively back to 2008.

This is purely a statistical change. Reclassification makes no material changes to the operation of housing associations, does not nationalise housing associations and the Government have no plans to impose new controls on the sector including over spending or borrowing. Housing associations will continue to be able to access those existing Government programmes that have been open to them. The Government remain committed to delivering 275,000 new affordable homes.

Housing associations are voluntary organisations and we are committed to reflecting their historic voluntary ethos and strongly believe they should continue to be independent of government. That belief is reflected in our decision to extend Right to Buy to housing association tenants by accepting a voluntary offer from the sector rather than implementing the policy through legislation.

As set out in our agreement with the housing association sector on Right to Buy, the Government is committed to developing deregulatory measures to help housing associations build more homes and help more people into home ownership. I set out the details of this agreement in my previous Written Ministerial Statement (12 Oct 2015: Official Report, column 4WS - HCWS222). I now intend to bring forward a package of deregulatory measures that will deliver this commitment while also aiming to return housing associations to the private sector in the future. The regulatory system will continue to ensure the good governance and financial viability of the housing association sector, retaining the confidence of lenders.

I will work with the housing association sector, the Social Housing Regulator and other stakeholders to finalise the deregulatory measures, with a view to delivering them through the Housing and Planning Bill.


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