Larger housing associations are to be encouraged to consider taking over smaller landlords who find it hard to adapt to measures announced in the recent Budget.

A number of industry figures have raised concerns with aspects of the chancellor's speech, such as an upcoming reduction in social rents of one per cent a year for four years from April 2016, along with various welfare reforms.

The Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) is therefore investigating the possibility of major housing associations taking over landlords who are struggling as a result of the changes.

Jonathan Walters, deputy director of strategy and performance at the HCA, told Inside Housing that the regulator wants "to talk to providers who may be willing to step in".

Bjorn Howard, chief executive of Aster Group, confirmed that his organisation would be willing to consider this option.

However, he stressed that it will not commit to any deal if it would be "a drain on Aster's business plan".

Recent estimates by the HCA suggested that about one-third of England's largest housing associations might get into financial difficulties due to the measures announced in the Budget.

Inside Housing reports that this figure has now been revised after numerous landlords gave the HCA reassurances about their financial positions.

The social housing watchdog has already urged smaller housing associations - those with fewer than 1,000 homes - to get in touch if they feel they are unable to adapt to the new system.

Julian Ashby, chair of the regulation committee at the HCA, said they must get in touch straight away, especially if they identify either "viability or liquidity problems" or if they will be "unable to comply with lender covenants or requirements".

This, he stated, will enable housing associations and the HCA to "look at the strategic options and consider how the matter might best be resolved".