Cratus Brand Stamp
We're more than an agency. We're change makers.

Cratus at CIH Conference 2023


By Cathal Kavanagh

Cratus at CIH 2023 – Planning & Popcorn

Housing 2023, the residential sector’s big annual get-together, descended on Manchester in a contrasting manner to the persistent drizzle  this week, with thousands of exhibitors and delegates representing absolutely everything the industry has to offer. 

From high-tech doorbell manufacturers to social housing providers, there’s very little under the umbrella of ‘housing’ that isn’t represented at the conference.

In amongst the hubbub at stand TE46, team members from Cratus’ Planning, Communities and Advocacy departments have been speaking with the rest of the industry, forming connections and pondering the future of the sector. 

Here’s five things we’ve learned.


Popcorn is an excellent conversation starter…

With our trusty popcorn-maker in tow, we’ve watched as the idea of a mixed sweet ‘n’ salty box of the stuff has proved irresistible to delegates and fellow exhibitors. 

Come for the popcorn, stay for the intelligent conversation and considered thoughts on community relations!


… and drinks receptions are even better

Cratus is proud to be partnering with the ever-excellent Communities that Work, the national body for the social housing sector aimed at supporting better job opportunities for working-age social housing tenants. 

Over 100 clients, partners and friends from around the industry came to CtW’s drinks reception (sponsored by Cratus) in Dirty Martini on Tuesday night, only a brief walk from the conference venue itself. With a good crowd and a robust amount of money behind the bar, Cratus helped to ensure that the first night of Housing 2023 went off with a bang.


The housing sector knows it has work to do

Conferences are always at risk of descending into back-patting sessions, so it’s to be commended the extent to which the areas in which the housing sector needs to step up to the plate have been emphasised at Housing 2023.

From the impact of damp and mould on the lives of social housing tenants, to the pervasive influence of racism in the sector and the urgent need for the built environment sector to decarbonise, the challenges and failures of the industry have been put centre-stage. Seeing Ian McDermott of Peabody discuss the horrifying case of Sheila Seleoane was uncomfortable, but it is at least heartening to see the sector take stock and admit where it needs to improve.


National politics is never far away

Given what CIH chief executive Gavin Smart called “perhaps the most challenging time for 30 years” for the sector in his remarks to the conference, it’s perhaps not a surprise that the impact of national politics  on the housing industry prompted a high volume of discussion around the hall.

There’s been no time to look back though, as the prospect of a change in national government loomed large over speeches and panel discussions. Most notably, shadow housing secretary Lisa Nandy’s speech to conference regarding Labour’s plans for housebuilding were followed up on by Keir Starmer at Wednesday’s PMQs, as part of the party’s ongoing effort to reposition itself as the party of homeownership.

Nandy also used her speech to reject the idea of rent controls, a statement likely looked on with relief by the industry: “It might be politically easier to put a sticking plaster on our deep-seated problems”, she said, “but if it is cowardice that got us here, it is never going to get us out.”


The Dulux Dog is a bigger celebrity than any politician or housebuilder 

Vienna, the understudy to (and daughter of) the official Dulux Dog, provoked wild levels of enthusiasm during her appearance at Housing on Wednesday, making two Cratus team members very happy in the process.

Cratus at Housing 2023 1