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In respect of the former, the technology of delivery, there has been a significant shift this year with a number of new entrants into the world of modular homes. Of particular note was the announcement that Japan’s biggest housebuilder, Sekisui House, was moving into the UK through a new joint venture with Urban Splash. You can read about it here.
The development of new sources of funding has been disappointingly slow. We commented in 2014 that pension changes should have been an opportunity to develop a new funding model for providing homes in the UK. You can read our comments here. Five years on, and the regulators are finally considering the changes that we proposed. We believe that this is key, as we think that accessing individual and defined contribution pension scheme capital provides a long term source of funding for rental housing provision, as well as providing a stable long-term income stream for pension provision.
There has been considerable public debate recently about a return to greater council provision of housing. Most visibly, in the last few days, George Clarke in his Channel 4 TV programme, George Clarke’s Council House Scandal has lambasted Britain's obsession with home ownership and has called for the building of 100,000 council houses a year. We think that this is a very worthy call to action, and you can sign his petition here.
However, we think that this is only part of the answer. Councils and housing associations have a key role to play, but so does private pension capital and the investment managers through whom that capital is invested.
Recent years have seen the develpment of many long-term investment vehicles for defined benefit pension schemes to invest in residential property for rent. The vehicles have taken many different forms, but have predominantly been available for traditional, defined benefit, institional investors.
Whilst much of this investment has been in high end build to rent, there have also been significant investments in more traditional market rate rental housing as well as in affordable and social housing.
We were involved in PfP Capital's joint venture with USS. You can read about it here. It is a very good model for defined benefit investment. If housing delivery of the scale required is to be delivered, it will require collaboration between the pubic and private sector and it will require large scale provision of housing for private purchase and housing for private rental. It will also require regulatory change to allow long term retail and defined contribution pension scheme investment. On this point, you can read our long-winded and rather too geeky blog on the subject here.
We will be providing further updates on this topic as regulatory change progresses. If you want to be on our mailing list, you can register here.