White Horse Housing

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by White Horse Housing's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from White Horse Housing is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett, MP
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles, MP

www.whitehorsehousing.co.uk

31WHITE HORSE HOUSING ASSOCIATION |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE 2019
White Horse Housing team
Five homes at Quince
Close, Kilmington
Based in Melksham, Wiltshire, White Horse Housing
Association are an organisation dedicated to the building
of warm, secure and – above all – affordable homes,
in addition to helping to sustain rural communities and
transforming lives by providing personal, flexible and supportive
management services. All of this is especially important when
homes, especially rural ones, are becoming increasingly
unaffordable. Here to offer greater insight on these and other
issues is White Horse Housing Association’s Chief Executive,
Steve Warran.
Our focus
Nationally, rural communities are facing a housing crisis. Rural homes cost 11 times
average salaries, and private rents are unaffordable to many families. Only eight
per cent of rural homes are available as ‘affordable’ to lower-income households,
compared to 20 per cent in urban areas. And yet rural communities play a vital role
in the social and economic health of the country, contributing one fifth of our total
economic activity.
Over the past 34 years, White Horse Housing (previously Wiltshire Rural Housing
Association) have grown steadily by working closely with local authorities and rural
communities to ensure we build the right homes in the right places, making a big
difference to the well-being and future viability of rural communities. The hope
is that we can give local people in need of housing access to a quality home they
canafford.
FACTS ABOUT
WHITE HORSE HOUSING
ASSOCIATION
»Chief Executive: Steve Warran
»Established in 1984
»Based in Melksham, Wiltshire
»No. of employees: 10
»Services: Building and
managing affordable homes
for local people in rural
communities
White Horse Housing
Association
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
32 | WHITE HORSE HOUSING ASSOCIATION
»CASE STUDY
Our scheme of ten homes for rent at Minety in north Wiltshire achieves high levels of thermal insulation, reducing
fuel costs for our tenants.
Each home:
»achieves level 4 of the “Code
for Sustainable Homes”;
»is heated by an air source
heat pump and has a
“passive” ventilation system
to reduce condensation;
»uses low flow taps and
showers to preserve water;
and
»achieves “Secured by Design”
certification and meets
“Building for Life” standards.
The development also includes communal land for the benefit of the whole community.
Today, we own and manage 364
homes in 45 parishes across Wiltshire
and Somerset. Each scheme has made
a positive impact on its community
and enabled local families to continue
living in the village where they grew
up or where they work. This, in turn,
boosts the local economy and helps
sustain local shops, schools and other
essentialservices.
The association aim to continue
growing, with plans to build an
additional 70 new homes over the
coming years. Already our development
pipeline includes 39 homes that will be
completed in 2019/20. Each one will
seek to embrace the best in building
techniques and modern technology to
ensure they are thermally efficient and
economical to heat up. Cutting fuel
costs is also important to our tenants,
which has the added benefit of helping
the environment.
The new “Community Housing Fund”
is helping local communities to take
control of development and build
homes for local people. Broad Chalke
Community Land Trust, in South
Wiltshire, has selected the association
to be their development partner.
Working together we will build and
manage six affordable homes in
the village with land available for
future phases. The homes will be let
at social rents and will be available
“inperpetuity”.
Challenges
There are, however, challenges.
Even where parishes support new
homes, suitable land is often in short
supply. Building costs are higher too,
particularly where new infrastructure is
required. Achieving a consensus across
the community and obtaining planning
support can take months, if not years.
Finding suitable builders willing to
undertake smaller projects can also be
difficult. However, with an increase
in government funding for affordable
housing and the reintroduction
of grants for social rented homes,
together with reforms to the planning
system, we hope some of these issues
will be alleviated.
As a small, rural-focused organisation,
we pride ourselves on the quality of
our management services. It is a service
many larger associations are unable to
provide. We offer a personal service
Only eight per
cent of rural
homes are
available as
‘affordable’ to
lower-income
households,
compared to
20 per cent in
urban areas
33WHITE HORSE HOUSING ASSOCIATION |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE 2019
where we build positive relationships
with our tenants, spending time
understanding the issues they face
and working together to find practical
solutions. Our staff are easily contacted
and always happy to visit our schemes
and individual homes when required.
We avoid impersonal computerised
letters and the use of call centres far
removed from frontline staff. We also
provide one-to-one support for those
tenants who struggle to make ends
meet or deal with daily problems.
Staff spend time helping tenants
through the maze of benefits changes
implemented over the past eight
years. Often these are complicated
to understand and difficult to access.
More importantly, the changes have
put a real strain on daily life and family
budgets.
With that said, our interventions
have positive outcomes. Our arrears
levels are one of the lowest across
the country, and there are numerous
examples of helping people claim
the benefits they need or managing
their income to avoid increasing debt.
We have also helped tenants with
adaptations to make life easier or
have assisted them to move into more
suitable accommodation.
Our tenants appreciate the service we
provide. Our recent satisfaction survey
placed us as one of the top-performing
associations in the country. The
headline results included:
»95 per cent are satisfied with the
services we provide
»96 per cent find staff helpful,
friendly and approachable
»97 per cent are satisfied with their
neighbourhood as a place to live
»96 per cent are satisfied with the
quality of their home
»91 per cent are satisfied with the
overall repairs and maintenance
service
»96 per cent feel they receive value
for money for their rent
»95 per cent feel that White Horse
Housing keep them informed
»88 per cent think that White Horse
Housing take account of their views
The association also achieved a “Net
Promoter Score” of 75, one of the
highest in the sector and well above
many of the top-performing private
sector firms.
The association have a clear purpose
and specific set of objectives for the
future. We will continue to support
rural communities and build the
homes so many people require. There
are always challenges and difficulties
to overcome, but we are resolved to
succeed wherever we can.
As a small,
rural-focused
organisation,
we pride
ourselves on
the quality of
our
management
services
Ten homes at Church
Acre, Codford

www.whitehorsehousing.co.uk

The Parliamentary Review Publication, in which this article originally appeared, contained the following foreword from The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister