Why does the RNLI sell pens?
The Housing Crisis is, of course, mainstream news now and over the last weeks we've seen coverage about how Housing Associations are acting in a commercial way to try to deliver more homes. Questions were raised as to whether this is the right way forward. But why? If you think about it, the RNLI sell pens and other merchandise to make a profit to enable them to continue to provide lifeboats. No one objects!
I've worked in the Housing Sector for 50 years now and my experience has shown that it is only through approaching the challenges we face with an entrepreneurial and innovative spirit, that we can deliver the significant number of homes needed to make a real difference.
I do not agree that acting in a commercial way is somehow undermining our social purpose. In fact, it is only by acting commercially that we can generate the profits needed to really invest in communities to make the biggest impact.
At Swan we've set ourselves the target of growing commercial activity to 60% of our turnover. Why? Because this will generate at least an additional £250m which will be invested in more social and affordable housing and in services to our residents.
It's that simple. This will enable us to deliver regenerations like Laindon Shopping Centre and Purfleet on Thames, both of which will bring new town centres, health and other facilities, as well as huge public realm improvements.
Recently, the Chartered Institute of Housing produced an ITN Industry news film 'Solving the Housing Crisis?' and we were delighted that they asked us to take part. The film, launched at the CIH conference in Manchester, examines the contribution social housing makes to our society and what the Government and Housing Associations can do to support people in need of a home.
The CIH film (below) shows how we have taken an entrepreneurial and innovative approach to drive up both the quality of new homes and the speed at which they can be built. It demonstrates how, working together with our partners, we can combine our resources to make the biggest difference. It also shows that as a sector, we really must make our own way and I would urge you to watch it before concluding that commerciality and social purpose are incompatible!
John D Synnuck - Chief Executive