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The economic crisis has particularly highlighted that housing associations must act prudently in managing their long term financial plans and of course local authorities would say that those pressures have been with them for many years. But with the likelihood of, at best, no rent increases in 2010, the next few years will undoubtedly be tough for all affordable housing managers. So now is the time to assess what fundamental changes can be made to achieve real efficiencies and the maintenance service must be a prime target.

The struggle to beat the recession is witnessing one in ten small business owners put in 100-hour working weeks. But could this sort of schedule put their business at risk?

Its understandable that many small business owners are feeling the effects of the current economic downturn, and they want to do whatever it takes to keep their business afloat, but focus needs to be put on the most important element and that is themselves.

Richard Kitson will become the Associate Advisor to PMCDE in October 2009 following stepping down as Group Chief Executive of Aster Group. Aster is one of the leading south west based housing association groups with assets exceeding £570m, an annual turnover of £80m and employing over 900 people. The organisations in the Group manage and maintain around 16,000 homes, have a substantial development programme and are involved in a range of other activities including low cost home ownership and care and support. Aster has been recognised as a Beacon Company by the South West Regional Development Agency and achieved 'first class' in the Best Companies Awards 2009.

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