Julian Westwood

Springboard is a rent strategy which seeks to maximise the availability of the limited resource of social housing.

Description: The idea is to benefit those customers at the periphery of the relationship to “the market” – those nearest and most distant from to being able to successfully operate in the commercial housing market. Through a process of self-selection and assessment by the HA, those tenants who are closest to operating sustainably in the housing market and choose to enter the programme would have their rent reduced. The reduction would be made available to them as funds to secure whatever is required to help them transition to the private housing market – e.g. a deposit for mortgage or rent, training, relocation fees, work equipment etc. The Housing Association could be involved in the management or provision of some of this – but this isn’t essential.

Improvement: Springboard would provide a balance of incentive and support to assist tenants transitioning to the private rental sector.

The rate of rental increase for these tenants would be higher than the standard rate of increase for other tenants. As the graph below illustrates this creates a time limited opportunity of support for the tenant to transition away from social housing to a sustainable tenure in the private sector. Beyond the point at which the lines cross it becomes increasingly expensive to stay in Social Housing, another incentive to transition and utilise the support already given.

springboard

The intention is not to try and recoup the cost of the support from tenants staying beyond the point of cross over – this would not be considered a success. While the HA would continue to maintain its asset, Springboard tenants would receive levels of service closer to those found in the private sector. This would again aid with their transition and reduce some of the cost for the HA. This isn’t an attempt to be cost neutral, however, and the cost of the support should be weighed against the hidden costs of the sub-optimal allocation of limited social housing resource to tenants who are not most in need. By encouraging Springboard tenants to move on to a sustainable private tenure the home becomes available for the tenant next most able to transition. In this way capacity is created to bring in a new tenant from the groups most in need yet currently unable to access a home.

To ensure that there is a constant supply, a pipeline of tenants ready to make the transition through Springbaord, HAs will have to focus their efforts and become experts in capacity building as a core function in the same way that repairs or rent collection is a core function.

About Julian: Julian Westwood leads the Business Intelligence Team at Trafford Housing Trust and is currently developing (among other things) the Pricing Strategy and the Social Strategy. He characterises his career to date as “haphazard” and mostly being concerned with helping organisations to understand what it is they are trying to achieve and then helping them to achieve it. Typically this involves trying to make things better for as many people as possible.