Sector income hit as COVID-19 impact begins to bite

The significant impact the coronavirus pandemic is having on the UK social housing sector is beginning to emerge with additional arrears increasing to an estimated £100 million since lockdown began and lettings activity down 77%.

The figures have been revealed in the second monthly report of HouseMark’s sector-wide COVID-19 impact analysis.

The membership-exclusive report is the first to reveal the effect of COVID-19 on the sector during the April ‘peak’ of the pandemic, providing critical insights to understand the ongoing impact and prioritise action to support recovery.

The data is based on figures supplied by 131 social housing providers, including 18 from Scotland (13 housing associations and 5 local authorities).

Headline findings include:

  • Arrears up a further 10% in April. Median arrears increased further in April to 3.29% compared to 2.99% in March, representing over £100m of additional arrears since lockdown began.
  • Lettings down 77% since March. Creating an estimated backlog of around 45,000 additional vacant homes, and a projected end of year void loss position of 2.17%.
  • Gas safety compliance down to 91.2%. Representing an estimated 380,000 properties UK-wide without a valid gas safety certificate.
  • Backlog of 800,000 non-emergency repairs built up in April.
  • 30% increase in reports of anti-social behaviour and domestic abuse.
  • Around one-fifth of sector workforce furloughed or not-working in April. This represents around 27,000 employees UK-wide and a government contribution to the sector of around £70m for furloughed employees.
Laurice Ponting

Talking about the latest report, HouseMark chief executive, Laurice Ponting, said: “HouseMark’s analysis is the first to quantify the effect of the pandemic across the UK housing sector and we are now seeing the significant impact of the crisis emerging.

“COVID-19 is not happening in isolation but is one of many complex factors influencing the choices of boards and executives; external, unbiased evidence is crucial to effective decision-making.

“This is why we are providing this impact analysis, along with our bespoke forecasting tools, to help landlords understand the impact on operations and income now, forecast what the future repercussions might be, and act on the evidence to prioritise recovery activity and secure the well-being of their residents, employees and their businesses.”

The full report, including detailed analysis and best practice from landlords across the UK, is exclusively available to participating organisations. The executive summary is available to view here.

  • Read all of our articles relating to COVID-19 here.

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