The social housing sector in England and Wales comprises over 4 million social homes, with over 1,500 Housing Associations and many local authorities providing around 70% of those homes, being some 2.8 million properties, and generating a turnover of £20 billion.
Despite the scale of the sector there is today a widely recognised chronic shortage of all types of social housing in England and Wales, with approximately 4.5 million people having qualified for social housing and currently sitting on local authority housing waiting lists. By comparison in 2015/16, only 17,500 new social homes were delivered in England and Wales. Through the 1970s, the proportion of social housing in the total number of new homes built each year averaged around 45% and was over 50% in some years. In the last 10 years, the annual average has fallen to 20%. This fall is partly due to the level of capital subsidy, which has been progressively reduced as government pushes associations towards replacing public subsidy with private finance. Registered Providers, in particular Housing Associations, are seeking to respond positively to the shortage of UK social homes by becoming ever more cost and operationally efficient in order to provide maximum resources towards development. This includes the sale within the social housing sector of some social homes by stock rationalisation both on a standalone basis or as a result of Housing Associations merging together. This decline in the provision of supported housing, is met with the increase in demand, which is led by increased survival rates at birth (including premature births), longer life expectancy, closure of long-stay hospitals and Government policy to promote Care in the Community. If the current trend continues, it Is predicted that by 2024/25 there will be a shortfall by over 46,000 of supported housing units.
Of the Social Housing units in England and Wales, Supported Housing (with support needs) accounts for 14% of the stock, with 716,000 people living in this type of housing. Civitas Social Housing PLC specialises in Specialist Supported Housing – housing for adults with specific care needs such as learning disabilities or autism, which accounts for 24% of the Supported Housing sector. Civitas, as at 31 March 2019, has a market share of 2.4% with over 4,000 tenants housed in 591 properties with over 113 care providers providing quality care. There is significant untapped opportunity within the sector, with current Housing Benefit spending at £1.4bn, and the Civitas rent roll, as at 31 March 2019, at £45.6 million.
The sector is regulated by the Regulator of Social Housing (RSH), a government sponsored body.