Associations grow by half but efficiency claims hard to prove

The typical housing association has grown by 50 per cent in the five years to 2007 thanks to development and consolidations, a new report has found.

Research for the Housing Corporation found that the number of homes owned by the average housing association increased from 800 to 1200 between 2002 and 2007.

The number of associations dropped from over 1900 to under 1700 in that time as they merged or joined groups.

However the concentration of homes owned by particular landlords had only increased from 26 to 32 per cent. The report said this apparent paradox could be explained by an increase in the total number of housing association homes which boosted the average stockholding.

The report said recent consolidations were motivated by efficiency rather than the desire for expansion which characterised the mergers and group structures of the mid 1990s. But it said it was difficult to see whether the savings made by associations were attributable to the mergers and whether they had improved efficiency or service delivery. It recommended further research on the areas.