Look to the Future

Liz Potter, Chair of Orbit GroupUnderstanding what lies ahead in the ‘new world’ is crucial in enabling us to transform to face the future. But what will life be like in the year 2020?

Orbit commissioned six of the country’s leading scholars to find out. Their analysis gives us food for thought, and their predictions present a future of significant challenge but also opportunity.

Professor Alex Marsh paints a picture of an exciting consumer-led world where people value mobile web technology more than physical mobility, like cars, and where growing public demand for ethical organisations plays to our strengths.

Meanwhile Professor Jonathon Bradshaw’s analysis of social policy highlights how bleak the future may be, with growing need in a ‘poorer and meaner’ world – although with opportunities in areas such as social care.

Dr Brenda Boardman’s environmental projections chart a worrying rise in fuel poverty but suggest how housing associations could grasp the nettle on energy efficiency and climate change through area-based approaches.

Professor Gerry Stoker’s powerful analysis of the political landscape indicates ‘localism’ is no fad, but is in fact here to stay. It provides a insight into how partnerships with local authorities could evolve over the coming decade.

Finally, Peter Williams and Sarah Monk predict long-term ‘pent-up’ demand for housing due to ongoing undersupply against demographic trends.

The Housing 2020 report shows how not-for-profit, community-oriented hybrid organisations like housing associations could play an even bigger role in society in the future. Our core social purpose allied to an ability to operate flexibly across markets, according to different social and economic circumstance, will be a critical advantage.
At Orbit we intend to develop a broader, deeper offer to local people and communities where we focus and maximise our impact on long-term social and economic trends. To do this we will need to operate more commercially and more efficiently. We will need a more entrepreneurial culture and people with new skills. Collaborating and establishing new networks with individuals and organisations beyond our own sector will be key.

As a sector we can build on our defining purpose and strong history. But unless we embark on substantial change to the way we think and behave as businesses, we may fail our customers and communities. That’s why in the coming months we will be developing our own transformation plans to enable us to deliver for the decade ahead.

This post was first featured as an article in Inside Housing on 26/10/2012

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