11 Jul 2023 | Build-to-rent

Housing 2023 Roundup: A new opportunity for our sector 

The event 'Housing 2023', the most prominent and largest UK housing conference, recently took place in Manchester attracting a diverse gathering of industry stakeholders. From policymakers and tenant representatives to housing association staff and investors, this conference served as a vibrant setting for innovation, problem-solving, and collaboration in the housing sector. Although the main focus remains affordable housing providers, this year saw a marked private sector presence. Build to Rent, whilst not yet taking centre stage, certainly drew more attention and institutional investment into all the living sectors was recognised for its growing importance. Here, we delve into the key takeaways from the event, highlighting the urgent need for change and collective action. 


A drive for innovation and problem-solving

Housing 2023 placed the formidable challenges facing the housing industry front and centre, including the pressing demand for net-zero solutions and the relentless housing crisis. The conference brought together a spectrum of key players, including registered providers, construction firms, architects, and engineers, to tackle these complex issues. With an air of collaboration permeating the event, stakeholders exhibited a shared determination to revolutionise the industry and overcome its obstacles. Of note was the recognition that private capital will need to play a major role in delivery of affordable housing. Housing associations, who have driven affordable housing delivery along with local authorities and central government, are near to borrowing limits and unable to raise new equity due to their not-for-profit status. It was clear from the financial position, only new capital injection from institutional investors, combined with an increase in grant levels from Government can overcome the sector’s current financial limitations.  


Prioritising people 

At the heart of Housing 2023's discussions was the resounding realisation that the housing industry is far more than bricks and mortar; it is a sector intrinsically connected to the lives of individuals. Beyond the numerical targets, lies the fundamental human right to safe and suitable homes that enhance overall well-being. This is something that Build to Rent investors have long recognised - that to ensure that the sector grows sustainably, investors must understand that a successful Build to Rent model requires significant investment, with long-term maintenance and improvement according to changing customer demand and need.  


Inspiring keynote addresses 

Much of the BPF’s focus on the conference was engaging and closely following the policy announcements, ideas, and discussions from Labour Party figures and key stakeholders. Of note to the institutional investor world was Lisa Nandy MP’s announcement on rent controls. Ruling them out, Nandy told delegates that the policy would be a ‘short-term fixing plaster’ to solve the housing crisis. She also reaffirmed Labour’s commitment to social housing with a plan to “put social and genuinely affordable housing at the very heart of our plans to jump-start the housebuilding industry”. Other developing policies were plans to reintroduce local targets recently scrapped by the Conservatives, and a review of development on green belt land, strongly signalling Labour’s pro-development intentions.   

Another important keynote speaking on home turf, Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, delivered a passionate address that underscored the necessity for stringent standards in rented homes. The BPF have been involved heavily in the early stages of the Manchester Good Landlord Charter and are working to ensure it delivers, as the Mayor stated, for tenants, and for the industry. Burnham emphasised the vital role of local authorities urging greater regulatory power to ensure good, safe, and secure housing.  


Embracing change and collaboration 

While it may appear repetitive to reiterate the industry's challenges and the need for innovation, Housing 2023 instilled a renewed sense of hope. The conference served as a catalyst for collective action, with industry leaders converging to strategise and effect the necessary changes. The clarion call for transformation echoed throughout the event, signalling that business as usual is no longer tenable. New perspectives from the institutional investment sector is providing ideas, capital, and leadership in the sector and laying the foundations for a brighter future. 

We were delighted to host our first investor lunch at the event that brought together leading investors across our sector to network and collaborate. It’s vital that Housing 2023 continues to embrace institutional capital and we were pleased to be able to bring many news faces to this important conference.  


In conclusion

Housing 2023 emerged as a trailblazing platform, galvanizing our sector towards collaboration, innovation, and a commitment to address the housing crisis. The conference stressed the importance of prioritizing people, forging a path toward a more inclusive and sustainable future for housing. As an industry, we stand at a critical crossroads, where change is both necessary and inevitable. The conference showed there is an opportunity, working hand in hand, to create a society where safe and affordable homes are accessible to all.  

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Theo Plowman Assistant Director, Policy, BPF