Mutual lending to associations rises

Societies lent 2bn to housing associations in 2006, up from 1.5bn in 2005, according to figures from the Building Societies Association.

Even though societies only acc-ounted for 18% of total mortgage lending in 2006, mutuals boasted a market share of 44% of gross lending to housing associations.

Neil Johnson, PR and policy manager at the BSA, says: “Societies are always looking to give people what they want and housing associations are vital in helping people who cannot get on the housing ladder.

“Housing associations fall under the radar for many lenders but for mutuals they are a great investment as social housing is of critical importance. Helping all types of people get homes has always been a key objective of societies and these impressive figures show them putting this into practice.”

James MacPherson, director of Notting Hill Home Ownership, says: “Housing associations are partly funded by donations from the Housing Corporation but we want to try and move away from handouts.

“We don’t have shareholders so we have been trying to make money by developing new homes, selling them and then ploughing the profits back into affordable housing. To develop this we need to borrow money and societies are helping us do this.”

Social housing is high on the government’s agenda. Ruth Kelly, secretary of state for communities and local government, has called for measures to allow people to take part in the Social HomeBuy scheme by investing as little as 10% of the value of a property.

In 2004 the Barker Review identified a need for an additional 23,000 social homes to be built each year to meet demand and make inroads into the social housing shortage.