Smaller housing associations have been advised to contact the sector regulator if they are worried about their ability to adapt to the changes unveiled in the recent Budget.

According to Julian Ashby, chair of the regulation committee at the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), noted that George Osborne announced a number of measures that will impact on housing providers of all sizes.

For instance, he pointed out that the chancellor announced a reduction in social rents of one per cent a year for four years from April next year, along with various welfare reforms.

Mr Ashby said these changes are likely to have a "substantial impact on most providers' business plans".

As a result, he wants smaller housing associations - those with fewer than 1,000 homes - to contact the HCA if they feel they are unable to adapt to the new system.

Mr Ashby 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".

Mr Ashby added that housing associations will also be aware that they will affected by upcoming changes to the Right to Buy scheme, as well as the 'pay to stay' policy for tenants on higher incomes.

He acknowledged that while the "broad thrust of the changes is clear", many specific details are yet to be published, which means some consequences "may be difficult to predict at this stage".

Nevertheless, Mr Ashby said the regulator expects housing association boards to demonstrate they understand the scale of the changes and are considering the possible impact already.