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Social housing providers have a tricky job juggling the latest industry challenges such as funding pressures, an ageing population and increasing consumer demand for more sustainable housing – these all put even more stress on the social housing sector.

Social Housing National Account Manager James KaneOur resident expert and Social Housing National Account Manager, James Kane, spends every day with providers across the UK to find solutions to these challenges.

We spoke to James about his thoughts on the biggest challenges in the industry at the moment, his top tips for social housing providers looking to deliver a successful social housing project and where he thinks the industry is headed. 

How did your career first start in the social housing sector?

My first glimpse into social housing was working with a contractor who managed social housing projects, to resolve ad-hoc issues. It turned out I really enjoyed the sector, which ended up opening up so many opportunities to different London housing associations. This kick-started my career in social housing specification. 
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the social housing sector? 

There is a growing need to build new homes to satisfy the affordable market. Alongside the challenges of funding, this demand means we must have good apprenticeship schemes to ensure there is a skilled workforce available to meet the industry demands. At Bristan, we support the development of young talent with training courses at colleges, but it’s important as a collective industry we are supporting the next generation. 
How do you help social housing providers to get it right first time?

Social housing providers should take full advantage of the advice that’s available to them. Working collaboratively with specialists is key to creating a successful social housing project – whether that’s pre-site meetings to help decide the best products or after-sales support. These activities all help to improve KPIs and minimise costly mistakes. In my role at Bristan, I also advise providers on the best products for energy efficiency and thermostatic safety – two of the most common features that people want nowadays.
What do you think the future of social housing looks like?

The twenty-tens saw a number of housing associations merge to form large national or regional groups and the current discussions seem to indicate that this is set to continue. The growing diversity and ageing population in the UK will also impact the needs of residents and present new challenges to social housing providers. It’s vital that the industry continues to work collectively to tackle these challenges and grow with these emerging trends. 

Our team of specialist experts are always on hand to help with any specification queries. To get in touch with James Kane or the Specification team, please visit our Specification Specification contacts page.