The Savills Housing Sector Survey 2018


From mergers and tenure types to land and policy, housing sector personnel reveal the key challenges they face on housing delivery

Points of view

Housing associations manage millions of homes. Increasingly, they are supporting tenants in areas where local authorities have been forced to cut frontline services. Clearly, the need to deliver more affordable homes is pressing, but should it come at the expense of other priorities?

In our new-for-2018 sentiment survey, those who feel that the main priority for the sector is delivering more homes outnumber, by two to one, those who consider it is managing existing stock.

Our focus groups are more divided on the issue.

Some participants are shocked at this result – particularly post-Grenfell. They note a greater management effort on compliance and health and safety, right up to board level. Indeed, the second year of our capacity survey tells us that fire safety has become an increased priority for 90% of affordable housing providers.

Others feel that it is unsurprising given the Government’s delivery-focused policy agenda and an overwhelming sense that demands on the sector are growing – particularly among working households, vulnerable households and the homeless.

We also uncover a strong sense that the sector is struggling to meet this increased need. Only 14% believe the sector is doing enough to solve the housing crisis. Yet, at a personal level, 87% feel there is the appetite to evolve and innovate to do more to address it.

In this report, we look at the pressures on the system and the need for greater flexibility around what is delivered and how it is funded. We then look at the scale of the delivery challenge.

The policy environment has undoubtedly improved over the past 12 months. And our capacity survey shows that development of more affordable homes has become an increased priority for 73% of respondents. But this requires two key components: land and funding, issues that housing associations are urgently addressing.

Lucian Cook

Head of UK Residential Research


Our survey partner

In May 2017, Social Housing and Savills teamed up to produce a report that reflected a sector embracing change, ambition and delivery. The Grenfell Tower tragedy stopped the sector in its tracks and, 12 months on, it feels like a very different world.

The ambition to build more homes and help solve the country’s housing crisis remains strong. And, more than ever, we are hearing housing associations speak proudly about their roots – a commitment to tenants, safety and social purpose. But, with political pressure looming, and the sector expected to increase its output significantly, the question for housing providers is: how can they do it all? The answer can’t only be more money from government – it has to be further upheaval of the housing association sector. The journey is just beginning.

Luke Cross

Editor, Social Housing


This survey, in association with Social Housing magazine, is the result of two surveys and two focus groups.

The sentiment survey. This was completed by people working in the housing sector and we received more than 1,700 responses from housing association employees, local authority employees and other stakeholders and suppliers. The purpose was to understand how the sector feels about the scale of the housing crisis, housing priorities, and how well the sector is responding.

The capacity survey. This focused on senior directors at housing associations and people in equivalent positions in local authority housing teams. They were asked about their development plans and priorities, financial issues, and the impact of policy changes. Data was collected in March and April 2018. We received around 100 responses, 86 of which were from housing associations (representing more than half the homes in their sector in total).

Focus groups. We invited a small group from the capacity survey to two focus groups to discuss both surveys. The group represented a cross-section of the housing association sector and the aim was to expand on any interesting results, share experiences and discuss issues outside the survey questions where relevant.

Articles within this publication

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