As the UK economy contends with the effects of a recession, potential widespread unemployment and a long recovery from an unprecedented and difficult year, it's clear that the social housing sector is going to play an integral role in the lives and wellbeing of millions of people.
As noted in one of our previously published articles on social housing, the UK government has announced a £12.2bn Affordable Homes Programme, to be spent over the next five years and possibly beyond. The challenge now has to be taken up by the many Housing Associations (HAs) in the country – and there are over 1,500 HAs in the UK, managing somewhere in the region of two to three million properties – to provide quality, affordable housing for those who so desperately need it.
It's a big challenge, coming at a time when businesses, industries and households are arguably under more pressure, financially, than we've seen in a couple of generations. Those in senior management within major Housing Associations have the difficult task of providing social housing to UK residents on a huge scale, and demand is likely to be high. What’s more their aim is not just to make such housing available and habitable, but attractive and desirable. Nice places to live, in other words.
This is where Hatch Interiors can serve a vital part of the process. We're proud of our commitment to social housing projects, which is underpinned by not just the vision and strategy of the company but also driven by the personal experience of Hatch Founder and Managing Director, Darren Phillips.
"Hatch's commitment to social housing is clearly defined", says Darren. "We resolutely believe that everyone deserves to have a roof over their head – irrespective of their background or their income. It’s a dignity that should be available to all, and it should be affordable. The mixed tenure model of Housing Associations is best placed to fulfil the needs of the people they serve.
"This is a subject and area that I can speak about with a degree of authority and also personal experience", Darren continues. "I am a product of social care and social housing, and believe that everyone, irrespective of background, should be afforded the same opportunities. As a privately-owned business, I am able to put people before profit.
"This has a direct impact on the Hatch offering, as we ensure that our products and services are aligned to what people need. We don’t push a particular product, or price point; instead, we listen to the needs of our clients and work with them to deliver that."
Having founded and launched Hatch 20 years ago, Darren has developed a business that has always been closely aligned to Housing Associations. He understands the challenges HAs face, and over the last two decades has built up considerable experience and insight into social housing and the large-scale build to rent (BTR) market. As such, Hatch is perfectly positioned as the go-to partner for social housing and short and long-term buy to rent projects.
Increasing numbers of HAs have commercial arms and teams that are building, buying and renting apartment blocks on the commercial market to then fund their commitment to social housing. Hatch has a number of successful partnerships with these commercial arms and in turn, has a proven track record of working with major Housing Associations.
Hatch has delivered commercial projects for developers such as L&Q and Notting Hill Genesis, to name but a few, and provided furniture and interior design assistance for a number of social housing schemes, including a social housing provider based in the northwest working with ex-offenders.
But the Hatch commitment remains ongoing. The business is determined to do more, says Darren:
"We are strengthening our commitment in this sector through a strong focus on ESG (environmental and social governance), the introduction of greater investment in tech, and by bringing in specialists with a strong track record in HAs.
Much like Hatch, Folio is driven by people instead of profit, and champions and supports the needs of renters in London. As Folio is part of Notting Hill Genesis, one of the largest housing associations in the capital, its profits are invested back into creating affordable homes for the rental market.
Similarly, Fizzy is part of Metropolitan Thames Valley, which provides affordable housing for people in London, as well as the East of England, South East and the East Midlands.
Hatch will be working alongside Fizzy and Folio over the coming months, as well as other housing associations, to meet the challenge of providing affordable homes to those in the UK who need it. It is a sizeable challenge that will surely only increase over the next few years, due to a number of factors.
"There are major challenges ahead for housing associations", admits Darren. "Some of those challenges include an increased, perhaps to an unprecedented level, demand in housing supply and a change in geographical focus due to COVID.
"What also needs to be considered are the needs of the stakeholders to have a more immersive experience in creating homes they are proud of rather than rented properties. As I've said before, I believe that everyone deserves to live in a home where they feel happy and comfortable."
Hatch is keen to hear from Housing Associations seeking a trusted and reliable partner to assist with furnishing properties, whether that be through ready-to-go furniture packs or via a more bespoke creative service. Critically HA clients will experience the same high-quality level of service delivered to private clients, but with an appreciation of the unique challenges of social housing and an ability to deliver quickly and to scale, that is second to none.
We'd love to discuss your social housing project with you – reach out to us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 020 7373 3131.