The 2006 white paper Strong and Prosperous Communities outlined central government’s commitment to localism and community empowerment. At the time, many housing associations were not working in close collaboration with local authorities and Local Strategic Partnerships (LSPs) despite the benefits this would bring.
The Young Foundation was commissioned by the Housing Corporation to investigate the role housing associations could play in neighbourhood governance and to produce this publication.
Our research investigated four housing associations that were perceived to be leading examples of associations that were strongly committed to neighbourhood working, both because of their involvement in local governance structures, and their commitment to providing services above those traditionally offered by landlords. The findings from our case studies were then discussed with and tested against the experiences of another 10 housing associations that represented a cross-section of the housing association sector.
‘Good Neighbours’ found that:
- housing associations succeed in pushing forward neighbourhood governance when they:
- combine neighbourhood level partnerships and strategic involvement with the LSP
- invest their own resources in neighbourhood governance
- value both formal and informal resident involvement
- when associations fail to work closely with local authorities, it is their residents – including many of the most deprived communities in England – who lose out
- political pressures over the next five years, plus longer term demographic trends – especially growing social polarisation – will push housing associations to focus more on neighbourhoods
- regulation must find a balance between encouraging innovation, and ensuring synergy between housing associations’ neighbourhood working and LSP strategies.