The number of local authorities with 40 or more housing associations (HAs) has more than halved in the past three years.
However, 40 per cent of councils hosting the highest number of housing associations have seen an increase in providers operating in their area.
Social Housing’s exclusive analysis of the Statistical Data Return has focused on general needs – which includes affordable rent as well as social rent – and looked at the period between 2015, when the government of the day put an onus on sector efficiency, and the latest official statistics reported for the 2018 financial year.
Overall, of the local authority areas listed in the dataset, 115 local authorities saw an increase in the number of HAs from 2015 to 2018, while another 115 saw a decrease.
A total of 96 had no change.
Across the board, the change in the number of associations coming in or leaving the area swings from a positive to a negative five.
It comes as our special report on stock dispersal finds that housing association stock is becoming more concentrated within local authority areas.
The three-year period has seen a particular focus on mergers and partnerships, efficiency and value for money, and responding to the four-year rent reduction, along with asset registers, stock rationalisation and economic asset management.
The period also saw a number of new entrants come into the affordable housing sector, including for-profit providers.
Of the top 20 most concentrated council areas, all are in London besides Liverpool, Birmingham, Wiltshire and Manchester.
Four local authority areas have more than 40 housing associations operating in their area.
The councils with the highest number of housing associations continue to be Liverpool City Council and the London Borough of Lambeth, each with 44 housing associations. Liverpool has a higher number of self-contained social homes, at 52,250, than the London boroughs that follow it.
It means that its numbers are proportionately much lower than the London boroughs, averaging almost 1,200 homes per HA versus London’s 250-500 homes per HA.
Lambeth has the same number of associations as Liverpool but fewer than half the number of general needs units, at 20,749. Hackney has 43 associations owning or managing 20,022.
Haringey, meanwhile, has 43 associations managing 10,053 homes – averaging just 233 homes per association – while Camden has 38 associations managing 7,969 homes, averaging just 290 homes per organisation. The number of associations operating in both boroughs has increased since 2015.
Twelve of the top 20 councils saw a fall in the number of associations owning stock in their area, including Lambeth, Brent, Lewisham, Tower Hamlets, Southwark and Islington.
A spokesperson for Camden Council said there are no plans to address the number of housing associations operating in the borough.
They said: “The diversity of provision is not in itself a bad thing. Housing associations came into being in response to different sets of presenting housing problems at a given time.”