The 553 largest housing associations in the UK have £8.4bn in unspent credit and plan to borrow £3.1bn each year for the next two years to fund refurbishment and construction.

The findings, in the 2004 Global Accounts compiled by the Housing Corporation and the National Housing Federation, will make interesting reading for housebuilders eager to find sources of income as the housing market slows down.

There was further evidence this week of a slowing housing market when housebuilder Wimpey said that for the first six months of the year sales were down 17.5% on the same period last year. It added that total completions were 10% lower.

The Global Accounts, however, show a much more benign picture for housing associations with turnover up £795m, or 11.3%, to £7.8bn in the 12 months to April 2004 (see graph below).

The associations have also been able to capitalise on the rising value of many of their homes and have raised £398m through selling properties, an increase of 32.2% or £97m.

This is a reminder of the strength and growth of housing associations

Jon Rouse, Housing Corporation

The overall gross value of the 1.2 million homes covered by the accounts has risen 36% to £63.2bn from 2000 to 2004, reflecting the general rise in house prices over the period.

The operating surplus of the associations, which own 95% of housing association stock in England, has remained static at £1.3bn.

Jon Rouse, chief executive of the Housing Corporation, said: “As public grants are being opened up to private sector builders, this is a timely reminder of the continuing strength and impressive growth of housing associations as providers of affordable homes.”