State-aid advice to the housing sector

Organisations can be entitled to receive financial assistance from the Government, in the form of state aid, subject to meeting relevant criteria.

We help housing providers, and those they work with, to understand the criteria and make the application process easier and less time-consuming, especially when working on wider projects. By involving us at an early stage in the project, we can ensure full consideration is given to state-aid use, rather than overlooking it due to its complexities and potential misunderstanding of use.

Our team has a range of experience and will work with you to meet your targets and contemplate state aid from all angles. We work not only with housing associations and registered providers, but also with local government, which enables us to provide practical advice using real examples, rather than merely pointing out areas of non-compliance.

Our services regarding state aid

You will receive detailed advice tailored to your specific needs, but we regularly provide advice on:

  • whether the project is entitled to state-aid support;
  • services of general economic interest (SGEI), such as transport networks and social services;
  • de minimis rules, allowing small amounts of aid to be given outside of the state-aid rules trail;
  • the use and application of exemptions – particularly the General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER);
  • state aid as part of wider considerations when deciding on suitable alternative-delivery models for public services – including asset-transfer arrangements when spinning out services from councils and the buy-back of corporate support services, grant arrangements and other potential sources of aid;
  • state-aid implications when councils undertake commercial activities; and
  • restructuring projects to ensure there is no unlawful state aid.

By providing practical advice we can help you to understand state aid and its various rules, and ensure correct application to guarantee public funds are used in the best and most cost-efficient way.

Provisions within the Housing and Planning Act that remove the need for housing associations (“HAs”) to obtain consent from the Regulator to dispose of social housing (as well as to merge or enter new group structures) come into force on 6 April.

Such freedoms will allow HAs greater flexibility over how they use their assets and, potentially, how they structure their businesses. Our expert panel gathered to discuss the possible opportunities the deregulatory measures offer, together with the likely hurdles. Read the outcome of their discussion here.


Jonathan Cox


Partner in the social housing team