UK: Risky Business Risk Profile For RPs Increases Following The Spending Review

Last Updated: 25 February 2011
Article by Jonathan Pryor

We look at the issues arising from the comprehensive Spending Review which will affect the activities of RPs.

20 October 2010 was undoubtedly a big day in the collective life of the RP sector. It signalled, quite probably, the most substantial change ever in social housing in the UK. The details remain unclear and it will be many months before the full significance of the changes are understood. However, it is clear that the changes will have repercussions for many parts of RP activity, in ways which, we suspect, were not fully anticipated by the Government.

At this stage, many RPs are exploring the repercussions and trying to evaluate what, if anything, the change to 'up to 80% market rent' will mean for their business plans, their development strategies and current and future tenants.

This article, unfortunately, does not provide any answers but does attempt to illustrate some of the issues arising. The key word in all of this is risk: whichever route your association takes, whether to embrace the opportunities and expand your development activities or to withdraw and become largely management-focused, the risk profile has increased substantially.

Unlocking value

At face value, for some RPs, the change in future rent levels may unlock significant value and enable a more substantial development programme to be released. To take an example, suppose the association has 10,000 units and for half of these the potential for an increase in rent up to 80% market rent is capable over time of delivering on average an extra £20 per week of rent at present day values. Suppose also that 1% of properties become void each year, there is a 4% void and bad debt loss, and the relevant policies on rent setting do not change. Assuming a 5% real discount rate, this then equates to a massive £17m increase in the net present value of future cash flows. Surely this could generate a sizeable acceleration in development capacity?

Stepping into the unknown

Unfortunately, there are too many unknowns for this simplistic calculation to be sensible.

  • Increasing the cost of a service (i.e. the rent) will have some effect on demand; some properties may become hard to let. The end of lifetime tenancies may also have an impact on void periods.
  • Now that a social rent is worth so much more to an existing tenant, we would expect voluntary movements of tenants to be less frequent. Therefore, expect the turnover of properties to slow to some extent.
  • The burden on tenants of the higher rental will be increased. This is bound to have some effect on bad debts and arrears, particularly for those not receiving full benefits. Even for those on full benefits, the move to a universal benefit will mean for some that their income reduces.
  • The restrictions on rentals (e.g. the local housing allowance) will need to be carefully assessed, as will the overall cap. This probably means that in London, for example, larger properties simply cannot be built under this mechanism.
  • Expectations will be raised. Tenants will be paying closer to the market rent and therefore will perhaps expect higher quality in maintenance and service; associations may need to model higher maintenance costs and longer periods between lettings. This might be offset to some extent by tenants taking more care over the property.
  • The dependency on local and central government not changing the rules is now a major threat. Even if a local authority is keen on the changes at the moment, would (following an election) a council led by a different party in say three years time have the same view?
  • How will local authorities react to situations where increases in rents in their authority are applied to subsidise new units in another authority?
  • Given that the risks are higher, surely the association's modelling of schemes needs to reflect a greater level of risk. This would either be via a higher discount rate or a more challenging internal hurdle rate; depending on how the association assesses its potential schemes.
  • Similarly given the higher risks, expect borrowing costs to rise and security requirements to increase.

What to expect going forward

There are two other areas hugely affected by the Government's general approach towards funding social housing and care.

We expect temporary housing to go through a boom; whether or not it is the most sensible use of Government money, this is the one area that seems to be a clear winner from the changes.

Secondly, expect some care and support organisations to get into serious financial difficulties. The 11% or so cut and the removal of ring-fencing from Supporting People funding, the severe contraction in local authority funding generally and the relatively easy process for local authorities to tender and achieve reductions in cost, are combining to make care and support organisations, particularly those with a dependency on Supporting People funding, extremely vulnerable. Furthermore, the costs of redundancy on some projects may be borne by the existing provider which, given the limited level of reserves held by some of these organisations, it may not be in a position to bear.

One further consequence we expect to see is an increase in the level of merger activity amongst RPs and similar charitable bodies; as such, all associations should review their merger and acquisition strategies.

The increased risks and a fundamentally changed landscape arising from the comprehensive Spending Review will require all boards and management teams to be at the top of their game.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.