Home » Subsidence Costs the Social Housing Sector £30m Per Year

Subsidence Costs the Social Housing Sector £30m Per Year

(February 28, 2020)

The cost of subsidence

With the changing climate, the past two years have seen an upsurge in subsidence affecting housing in the UK and this trend will continue. With 2.5 million properties, Housing Association’s require a fast solution that mitigates the need for properties to remain vacant or tenants decanting. In 2018-19 the government reported 2674 cases of solid wall repairs to their local authority stock of 1.5m homes, with 3900 planned repairs for 2020. If only half of these cases are subsidence, at an average repair cost of £6000, that equates to a £10m+ annual subsidence repair bill. By applying the government figures to the 2.5m HA stock, annual subsidence repair costs could be anywhere between £20-30m.

Cracks due to subsidenceNot only is the direct repair cost significant, but the indirect cost of re-housing tenants during repair works and the lost income of vacant stock pushes this figure up more steeply. While the financial impact is significant, the effect on tenants who need to be re-housed temporarily is also straining, particularly for the elderly.

As the climate continues to warm, the subsidence issue will not go away. The sector needs to embrace new, forward-thinking solutions to minimise the overall cost and disruption subsidence causes. There are two areas where improvements can happen, the physical repair and the process. In both respects, a company breaking new ground dealing with similar issues in the insurance sector is repair contractor Geobear. The insurance market has a sizeable subsidence claims sector, where the issue of cost and speed of dealing with a subsidence claim has historically been long-winded.

A fast solution

The last 12 months have seen Geobear, in partnership with major UK insurers Legal & General and loss adjusters Sedgwick UK, launch an award-winning initiative that significantly expedited the repair process for home-owners with subsidence insurance claims.

Within the insurance industry, the average time between an insurance claim for subsidence and the actual repair work is 12-18 months (often much longer). Furthermore, the repair process itself typically used traditional underpinning solution taking up to two months. The Geobear initiative resulted in the claims process reduced to as little as 12 weeks, ultimately reducing the workloads of the supply chain, providing certainty in terms of costs and business planning, and providing a rapid solution for the end customer, with minimal disruption. Critically, Geobear complete remediation work within one day – they use a specialist geopolymer injection method, that requires no excavation and residents can stay in their property.

The industry partnership developed by Geobear is one they are looking to emulate within the social housing sector. While the company already works with many Associations and contractors providing bespoke subsidence repair, they believe new partnerships will revolutionise how the social housing sector deals with subsidence repairs. Depending on existing processes, the company argues it can commit to full remediation of a reported case of subsidence within six weeks of instruction. 


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