How Covid-19 Has Impacted the Social Housing Sector
The Covid-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on all aspects of the housing sector. Not only has it stalled new developments, but a recent report claims the pandemic has exposed the UK’s housing system as being fundamentally broken, with families in overcrowded homes facing worsening health outcomes and private renters struggling to meet costs. There is a strong argument that a social housing reform is urgently needed to help resolve this.
In this blog, we will discuss the current state of the social housing sector, the government’s plans to overcome these issues in the wake of Covid-19 and how speedy workflows and reliable materials will be crucial to effectively meet this increased demand for social housing projects across the UK.
The state of the sector
It goes without saying that coronavirus has had a huge impact on the social housing sector but, despite hindering projects in the short term, it’s also acted as a catalyst for much-needed, long-term change in the industry.
There is an urgent need for the development of a whole load of new social housing projects, with a cross-party group of MPs stating that social housing should be at the ‘top of the government’s agenda’ as it seeks to rebuild the country from the impact of Covid-19.
In a new report, the Housing, Communities and Local Government (HCLG) Select Committee argued that 90,000 new social homes are needed in England following the pandemic and called on ministers to deliver them with a £10 billion increase to annual grant funding.
In some good news for the sector, on 8th September 2020 the Housing Secretary, Robert Jenwick, unveiled a huge £12 billion boost for affordable homes, including some homes for social rent to help those who are most vulnerable. The announcement represents the highest single funding commitment to affordable housing in a decade and is part of the government’s comprehensive plans to ‘build back better’. However, while this is a step in the right direction and will see up to 180,000 new homes built, the proportion earmarked for social housing will likely be a fraction of what’s needed.
Nonetheless, social housing is on the up and increased investment in this area will help provide jobs and boost the economy, which is crucial during the coronavirus-induced recession. Not only that, but the programme will also help meet the government’s wider target of 300,000 homes a year and improve the lives and health outcomes for those living in over-crowded properties.
A one-manufacturer approach
The pandemic has highlighted the need for social housing developers to rethink their strategies as they look to increase speed and efficiency across the supply chain. Working with the right products – high quality, reliable ones that allow for quick and simple installation – will be paramount, and one area that can offer such benefits is plumbing and drainage.
By taking a one-manufacturer approach to plumbing and drainage, social housing developers can maximise on value and speed up the installation of these services, which will be essential to effectively deliver the large volumes of social homes that are needed in the wake of coronavirus.
At Wavin, we’re ideally placed to provide a complete plumbing, heating and drainage solution for social housing projects through our range of innovative products, combined with technical design and customer support, which help to deliver high-performing installations on time and on budget.
Wavin’s social housing solutions
Let’s start with our push-fit hot and cold plumbing system, Hep2O, which is specified by over 70% of major house builders and is the only system approved and specified for use by British Gas installers. Hep2O is in fact four times faster to install than copper, with an install cost saving of 30%, and is known for its flexibility, which means it can easily bend and flex around any property. No hot works or flames are needed for fitting, which also means there is no need for costly Hot Works Permits. Hep2O can easily connect to copper systems if required, too.
It’s also important that repair work should be kept to a minimum to reduce maintenance in social housing developments, therefore a durable, reliable and long-lasting plumbing system is essential. The Hep2O push-fit plumbing system comes with a 50-year guarantee.
Our Osma HepVo is also well-suited for social housing projects as an alternative to traditional water traps where space under a sink, shower or bath is limited. Unlike traditional water traps, HepVo does not rely on a water seal, which can dry out or be pulled by a changing pressure in the system. If the water seal fails, bacteria can re-enter the household through showers and sinks. In contrast, HepVo provides permanent, water tight protection and prevents the escape of noxious sewer air, which means it also helps to stop the spread of infection.
For drainage, Osma Soil also has built in features to offer reassurance. In multiple occupancy and flat developments where space is limited, the reduced dimensions of the Osma Compact Soil and Waste systems help to minimise the duct space required. The Osma Soil six boss manifold also saves space by allowing waste pipes to run at floor level directly into the manifold without the need for any special adaptors. Its compact size means that it can be installed in a much smaller hole than some of the more conventional push-fit manifolds. And, as with all Wavin products, the systems are manufactured to a quality management system that is approved to BS EN ISO 14001:2015 and are also covered by British Standards kitemarks.
The future of the sector
Coronavirus has brought to the fore the importance of social housing and it’s only set to become more crucial as we look to accelerate economic recovery, with the recent government investment showing that positive steps are being taken to put social housing on the agenda. As such, there has therefore never been a more pressing time for developers to look to adopt a one-manufacturer approach to increase the speed and efficiency of social housing projects and deliver the large volume of social homes that are so urgently needed.