Categories: Thought Leadership
Social housing can be a polarising topic, frequently bringing more questions than answers. But one thing is for sure, sustaining tenancies can have significant benefits for both tenants and councils alike.
Even now, in 2022, most social housing still comes completely unfurnished.
Whilst this may not seem overly surprising to the average person with most being used to moving their own furniture in to new homes, those from a homeless background - a significant subset of tenants across social housing - are unlikely to own their own furniture, bringing with it several challenges.
The importance for those entering social housing from a homeless background cannot be understated. A homeless individual or family may not always be what we expect. This could include care leavers, sufferers of domestic violence, single parents, ex-military personnel, former offenders, or rough sleepers. Someone from a homeless background may be anyone coming into social housing without their own furniture.
In an empty property people may be more inclined to turn to microwave meals and takeaways, sleeping on cold floors, and ultimately jumping from home to home.
This is simply not sustainable.
To finally be given your own house is a wonderful thing, but without the means to turn it into a home, there can be major consequences on very real areas such as mental and physical health, quality of life and cost of living. Ben Joiner, Director at Furnished Homes, one of our suppliers on our Furniture Solutions Framework, shares our passion in tackling this issue.
So, what defines sustainable housing? Put simply, this is the process of ensuring a long-term environment for homes across the housing sector.
Emphasis is put on reducing waste, promoting recyclable and reusable products, creating less need for maintenance, and ultimately enhancing the likelihood of keeping tenants within these houses – in their ‘homes’.
Put frankly, if you put people into empty places, they tend not to sustain their tenancies.
On a human level, this can bring many challenges where affects can hold huge health and life-limiting implications, but also for councils providing social housing who need their large portfolio of property to remain full. For councils, keeping tenants in their properties is essential, working with people like Ben and suppliers like Furnished Homes has allowed them to manage voids in housing much more efficiently, bringing great benefits to the public, stopping the need for multiple layers of work and use of resource, ensuring a quick, efficient journey to a furnished home across a full portfolio of property.
Empty homes mean lower revenue, meaning less cash in the public pot, meaning less available to put back into other areas of the public that may need this resource and investment.
Ben and the Furnished Homes team have done an incredible job to build up their business ethos on tackling this issue and doing all they can to ensure the full journey is complete for all parties. By not just adding furniture to a house, Ben’s team provide a ‘one stop shop’ looking at each element of sustainable tenancies in social housing as part of their process. What this means for tenants from a homeless background is huge, offering potential for security, familiarity and ultimately that feeling of ‘home’ whilst ensuring huge savings for those providing social housing such as aforementioned councils.
Ben said: “For these and many other reasons, Councils and Housing Associations are now looking to furnish, or part furnish properties for some or all tenant groups.
“On a day-to-day level it is often the Housing Officers who are given the additional responsibility of furnishing properties. Amidst dealing with antisocial behaviour, chasing rent arrears, and providing support for their tenants, the last thing they want to have to do is be present at each property they are furnishing whilst deliveries from multiple suppliers take place.
“Nor do they want to deal with the mountain of waste packaging this creates or liaise with multiple trades to facilitate the install of cookers, washing machines and more.
“Offering our services as a one stop shop allows for these worries to be set aside somewhat and provide the best platform for councils to keep their properties full, avoiding loss of revenue but more importantly, to offer a sustainable residence for those tenants who may not have the means to equip themselves with a real home that I think we all need.”
Our Assistant Framework Manager, Sam Schofield said: “Working together with Furnished Homes we at Pagabo continue our work in aiming to provide a simple solution to procurement for Residential and Public Housing in the public sector.
“Ben and his team have a spot on our Furniture Framework under Lot 4 – Residential Furniture & Accessories, a framework which gives public sector organisations the ability to compliantly Direct Award. This means they can benefit from their expertise early in the process, giving them not only access to their skills and years of experience on the ground within social housing, but to their dedication to ensuring sustainable tenancies in the full joined up service they provide.
“It means a great deal to all of us here at Pagabo that we can play a part in supporting this journey and suppliers like Furnished Homes are so genuine in their work providing the best platform for a sustainable future in social housing, something we can all get on board with.”
Check out our Furniture Solutions Framework today: