Independence...Integrity...Value

Blog 8th February 2017

Feb 8th, 11:58

Blog 8th February 2017

We have re-designed our website and the new site will be launched this week. The new website contains all the information that is currently on the website and all the same facilities to book onto seminars and webinars and to order books. However, the site is more user-friendly and can be displayed better on tablets and mobile devices. I hope users of the website will like the new site and if any of you have any feedback I would be pleased to hear from you at Adrian.waite@awics.co.uk

Next Wednesday (15th February) I will be presenting: ‘All You Want to Know about Service Charges in Social Housing’ at the Novotel Waterloo Hotel in London. As usual, this seminar has proved popular and I am looking forward to meeting the delegates. However, we do have a few places still available. For more information or to make a booking please click HERE

My briefing paper on: ‘Brexit and its implications for Housing’ is currently one of our most popular briefing papers. One of our readers, LB Legal Appeals – a company that provides Legal advice and representation at tribunal appeals for supported 'Exempt' and 'Specified' accommodation and other housing benefit issues, has been good enough to provide us with some feedback on the paper on Twitter, describing it as a:

“Very useful piece on the potential implications of Brexit on Housing. It is a brilliant report.”

Your copy can be freely downloaded from HERE

The government published its long awaited White Paper on Housing yesterday. In view of the length of time that it has taken to prepare and the advance publicity that it received I think it contained very little radical change and repeated many established policies. However, it has received a cautious welcome from the housing sector in England.

The main announcements in the white paper include:

  • A standardised mechanism for setting housing delivery targets for councils’ Local Plans
  • New guidelines to encourage compulsory purchase of undeveloped land
  • A new rent standard for the social housing sector after 2020
  • Dropping of the 20% threshold for Starter Homes and the target of 200,000 Starter Homes by 2020
  • Councils must include Right to Buy in homes built through new council companies

The White Paper says the following about development by housing associations and other non-profit-making developers such as local authorities:

“The Government has already announced funding worth a total of £7.1billion through an expanded and more flexible Affordable Homes Programme. We will provide clarity over future rent levels. In return, we expect them (housing associations and local authorities) to build significantly more affordable homes over the current Parliament.”

The aspects of the white paper that I find interesting include:

  • The requirement for councils to produce housing plans that are designed to deliver the number of new homes that central government calculates are required appears to be a return to the system of housing targets that was used before 2010. The present government had previously seen this as an undemocratic top-down control system.
  • Starter homes are only to be made available to households with an income of below £80,000 a year (£90,000 in London). This means that people on average incomes with homes of an average value will still be paying tax to subsidise people with higher incomes than them to buy houses more valuable than their own. I am surprised there are not more protests about this.
  • While the government has said that it wishes to do more to provide homes for rent and that Councils should play a role in building new homes, its financial support continues to be focused on the private rented sector and on ‘affordable housing’ (previously called ‘intermediate housing’). No new money is being made available and the ‘borrowing caps’ that prevent local authorities from making best use of their assets to provide new social and affordable housing remain.
  • Clarity over future social rent levels is promised but is not included in the White Paper.

My briefing paper on the affordable housing programme can be downloaded from HERE

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