Over the last few years, Genesis, through the CEO, Neil Hadden, has made it very clear that he and the Board of Genesis Housing Association (GHA) wants to ‘de-regulate’ from government oversight.
The Genesis Board and the CEO have funded reports on this issue by the Policy Exchange.
The first Genesis-funded Policy Exchange report ‘Free Housing Associations’ (2014) argued that ‘free’ housing associations should have the ‘right to set their own their own rents.’
Neil Hadden was quoted in 2014 as saying that “Housing associations…could achieve even more if [they were] unshackled from excessive financial and regulatory constraints.’
In an interview on 4th August 2015 when asked if in twelve months time Genesis would still be registered with the government Homes and Community Agency, Neil Hadden said that that if discussions, ‘led to de-registration, would I be upset? No.’
In a second report from the Policy Exchange ‘A New Settlement Between Government and Independent Housing Associations’ (2016) it was argued again that some housing associations should control rents – not the government. The report also argued that the current government rent cap of – 1 % per year (for assured post-1989 tenants) should to overturned. This report was also part funded by Genesis.
So the current – 1 % deal from 2016 to 2020 would be scrapped to allow for rent increases. The crucial point about either ‘de-regulation’ or ‘de-registration’ is that Genesis would then have the right to set rents.
Housing associations are currently controlled by the government and in 2015, were forced to cut rents for assured tenants by – 1% per year up until 2020.
The large rent increases for secure tenants gives an idea of what the CEO and the Board might do if they got the chance to set rents for all residents. Rents for secure tenants have increased by up to 177%
So it is very clear that the CEO wants to push up rents so he can develop housing that is out of reach of most residents of Genesis.
This is also the policy of the National Housing Federation which recently (January 2017) conducted a consultation with its members (CEOs and Boards of Housing Associations). Although Genesis Residents was not invited to make submissions, we did anyway, in an open letter which can be found on our Facebook Page.
This issue was discussed both at our meetings of 16 February and 28 February. Reports of these meetings are available on our Facebook Page and can also be accessed through the home page of this website.