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The Chartered Institute of Housing is the independent voice for housing and the home of professional standards

Rise from the ashes


Grainia Long, Interim Chief Executive, discusses how Housing organisations must pick themselves up and dust themselves off to meet 2012's challenges head on

Last year, housing took a battering. Government investment in housing was sacrificed for education and health. While additional spend in the English housing strategy was welcome, it didn’t amount to the kind of transformative investment we need to tackle the housing supply crisis. This was against a backdrop of welfare reform, a contracting sector, spending cuts in local government, rising poverty and plunging household income. Depressed yet?

Well, no. There are 22,000 Chartered Institute of Housing members who have much determination, creativity and tenacity to face the challenge. They are far too busy to be depressed.

There has never been a more important time for housing professionals to be great at what they do. Changes to housing benefit, supply challenges and new planning powers will mean chief executives and chief officers must make brave decisions about the function and purpose of their organisations and look fundamentally at their business models. Board and elected members must be experts in covering the risky side of the business, while keeping their eyes on the external environment as this becomes more important than ever before.

Put simply, the housing sector must outperform to endure. Here’s the CIH’s list of new year’s resolutions, we will:

  • continue to be unapologetic in our demand that the UK government makes the right decisions, and we’ll make sure that it has access to the knowledge and experience of our members when doing so;
  • challenge deepening unfairness in our housing system and will be honest about what works and what does not;
  • be resolute in our challenge of the sector to outperform, while supporting organisations to improve;
  • ensure that the quality of our learning will help transform the sector - our focus will be on teaching for tomorrow’s housing system, not the one just past.
We are resolved to work with the sector for a vision that looks beyond this year and beyond the recession. A vision that places housing at the centre of economic growth; that balances the social values of the housing sector - public and private - with a spirit and intent towards performance. The CIH conference in Manchester in June provides just this opportunity.

In the past few months I have spoken to many professionals who go to work every day because housing is their priority. Some are convinced we must revisit our core purpose as professionals, others that we should be more ambitious and aspirational for people in the severest housing need. Both views are correct. However, the measure of our success in 2012 will be whether we have turned housing from a professional priority to a national priority.

Also published on the Inside Housing website, January 2012

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