Independence...Integrity...Value

September 2015

Sep 8th 2015, 15:10

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28th September 2015

Last Tuesday I presented the AWICS seminar ‘Right to Buy Extension, Sale of High Value Council Homes and Social Rent Reform’ in London. This session looked in detail at the financial implications for housing associations and local authorities of the government’s proposals to extend the ‘right to buy’ to tenants of housing associations in England; sell high value council homes; reduce social rents by 1% a year and charge market rents to tenants on high incomes.

I am grateful to delegates for their feedback. They said that the information provided was ‘very relevant’, the quality of the presentation was ‘excellent’ and that the training met their needs fully. They described the session as: Interesting, Thought-provoking, Thorough, Useful and Practical.

Since the seminar concluded the National Housing Federation has revealed the details of its ‘deal’ with the Department for Communities & Local Government that would introduce the ‘right to buy’ to housing associations on a voluntary basis. Housing associations have until 2nd October to decide whether they wish to accept the deal and thereby avoid having ‘right to buy’ imposed through legislation. I can’t help thinking that the National Housing Federation has only avoided being ‘pushed’ by agreeing to ‘jump’. However, I can see advantages for housing associations in having a ‘voluntary deal’.

This seminar proved to be very popular, was fully booked and we had to turn some people away. We have therefore arranged a further session of the seminar on 30th November 2015. Further information on this is available from Adrian.waite@awics.co.uk or by clicking HERE

We are following up the seminar with a series of webinars as follows:

  • Extension of Right to Buy to Housing Associations -8th October 2015 – for details click HERE
  • Sale of high value council homes – 13th October 2015 – for details click HERE
  • Social rent reforms – 19th October 2015 – for details click HERE

The book that accompanies the seminar is also available to be purchased separately. For details click HERE

Calico Group Offices in Burnley

This week’s ‘Inside Housing’ magazine includes an index of social landlords with the most innovative working cultures. Fifth on the list is the Calico Group, one of my clients, and a housing association where I was a board member in the ‘noughties’. They scored especially highly on commitment defined as the loyalty of staff to the organisation. It has a clearly defined target culture set out in a ‘Who we are’ document that is used to help identify appropriate potential employees as part of the recruitment process.

The group includes six companies with 600 employees. Calico Homes has 4,600 homes in East Lancashire.

Mark Brown, Chief Executive of the ‘Dolphin Index’ told ‘Inside Housing’ that:

“This looks like an exciting, innovative, caring place to work… It looks like a can-do sort of place. These guys might not get too much of a shock I they went off and worked for google.”

Katie Willan, Human Resources Director at Calico Group told ‘Inside Housing’ that the organisation is non-hierarchical and that:

“I think a lot of organisations spend lots of time focusing on what staff aren’t good at, and try to improve that (but) if staff are doing what they are good at , they get a kick out of it, they’ll do it well and they’ll do it quicker.

“I think that’s where some of the creativity comes from… Staff feel they have the freedom to influence the potential direction of travel of the business.”

This week we also open two new webinars for bookings:

  • Self-Financing in the Housing Revenue Account – 12th November 2015 – for details click HERE
  • Welfare Reform and Work Bill – 16th November 2015 – for details click HERE

21st September 2015

On Tuesday I will be presenting the AWICS seminar ‘Right to Buy Extension, Sale of High Value Council Homes and Social Rent Reform’ in London. This session will look in detail at the financial implications for housing associations and local authorities of the government’s proposals to extend the ‘right to buy’ to tenants of housing associations in England; sell high value council homes; reduce social rents by 1% a year and charge market rents to tenants on high incomes. This seminar has proved to be very popular and it is now fully booked. I am looking forward to meeting the delegates.

We are following up the seminar with a series of webinars. For more information on these or to make a booking please click HERE

It is also likely that we will arrange a further session of the seminar. If you would like to have details of this please contact me at Adrian.waite@awics.co.uk .

It is interesting to note that Boris Johnson is attempting to ring-fence housing association ‘right to buy’ receipts that arise in London to funding replacement housing in London. If this happens it is likely that while homes sold in London would be replaced on at least a one-for-one basis, homes sold outside London would not be. In contrast, the Core Cities are arguing that councils should be allowed to determine the level of ‘right to buy’ discounts as part of devolution deals.

Also, London Councils is arguing for the 1% annual reduction in rents to apply for only three years rather than four; the National Housing Federation is going further and arguing that landlords should be able to determine their own rent policies rather than having to follow a national policy; but the Labour Party has decided not to oppose the rent reduction policy. Meanwhile, it appears that the government will agree to exempt sheltered accommodation from the rent policy.

It will be interesting to see what is contained in the Housing Bill when this is published.

We have published a briefing paper on 'Extension of Right to Buy to Housing Associations - Proposals and Implications'. Your copy can be freely downloaded from HERE

I am currently available to work with local authorities and housing associations on updating their business plans to take account of the extension of ‘right to buy’, rent reductions and other recent changes. If you think I could assist your organisation please contact me at Adrian.waite@awics.co.uk

Last week we launched a new seminar: ‘Local Authority New Build: The Financial Implications’. This will be held at venues in London and the North in December.

There is general agreement that England is facing a ‘housing crisis’ and that a lack of social and affordable housing is a significant part of this. There is therefore an appetite in many local authorities to build new council homes as part of their response to the crisis. Indeed, many local authorities have already embarked on new build programmes.

However, despite the introduction of self-financing in 2012 and government support for new build, councils still operate with financial and other constraints including the ‘borrowing cap’. Furthermore, recent policy announcements regarding sale of high value council homes and rent reductions will reduce the capacity of local authorities to build new homes.

This seminar considers the financial implications for local authorities of building new council homes, the implications of government policies and options for building new homes.

The seminar will address the following questions:

  • What is the context in which councils are developing new council housing?
  • How can new council housing be financed?
  • The costs and benefits of a new build scheme. How to appraise a new build project?
  • What delivery vehicles can be used? What opportunities may exist in the future?

For further information or to make a booking please click HERE

14th September 2015

Last Tuesday I chaired two sessions at the National Housing Federation’s Conference on Leaseholder and Tenant Service Charges in London. The first was on dealing with sinking fund calculations and the second was on the operation of the service charge regime in different forms of tenure. I also attended a presentation on Service Charges and Welfare Reform by Sue Ramsden of the National Housing Federation and Sarah Seeger of Curo. Service charges continue to be a topical issue in both housing associations and local authorities.

One interesting point that emerged is that the Welfare Reform and Work Bill as currently drafted would apply the policy of reducing social and affordable rents by 1% a year to fixed service charges also (although not to variable service charges). Apparently ministers have confirmed that this is not their intention and that the Bill will be amended.

On 22nd September I will be presenting the AWICS seminar ‘Right to Buy Extension, Sale of High Value Council Homes and Social Rent Reform’ in London. This session will look in detail at the financial implications for housing associations and local authorities of the government’s proposals to extend the ‘right to buy’ to tenants of housing associations in England; sell high value council homes; reduce social rents by 1% a year and charge market rents to tenants on high incomes. This seminar has proved to be very popular and it is now fully booked.

We are following up the session with three webinars that will look at the three aspects of the government’s reforms in turn. They are as follows:

Right to Buy for Housing Association tenants – 8th October - For more information or to make a booking please click here: http://app.webinarjam.net/register/16934/6f3b26f871

Sale of High Value Council Homes - 13th October - For more information or to make a booking please click here: http://app.webinarjam.net/register/16934/7f8d5c28ca

Social Rent Reforms - 19th October - For more information or to make a booking please click here: http://app.webinarjam.net/register/16934/96e6aab3a0

It is also likely that we will arrange a further session of the seminar. If you would like to have details of this please contact me at Adrian.waite@awics.co.uk .

The Welsh Government is considering whether to follow the lead set by the United Kingdom Government in England and is consulting local authorities and housing associations about the possibility of reducing social rents in Wales by 1% a year. This collaborative approach in Wales contrasts with the approach in England where the government carried out no consultation prior to making their surprise announcement.

Meanwhile the ‘right to buy’ will be abolished in Scotland on 1st August 2016. In advance of this there has been an increase in ‘right to buy’ applications with tenants seeking to meet the deadline. In 2014/15 there were 1,832 sales compared with 1,209 in 2013/14.

I am currently available to work with local authorities and housing associations on updating their business plans to take account of the rent reductions and other recent changes. If you think I could assist your organisation please contact me at Adrian.waite@awics.co.uk

Last month the YMCA published a report entitled ‘Uncertain Futures’ that considered the prospects of people aged between eighteen and 21 in view of the government’s welfare reforms in particular the proposal to restrict eligibility for housing benefit for people in this age group.

Based on an examination of those young people currently claiming unemployment and housing benefit, the research identifies that, without the right protections, the government is in danger of exposing many of the most vulnerable young people to the risk of becoming homeless. Denise Hatton, Chief Executive of the YMCA said:

“Unless firm and clear exemptions are put in place, thousands of young people who don’t have the option to go home will be left to face uncertain futures.”

We are holding seminars on welfare reform in October and November. For further information please click HERE

7th September 2015

Tomorrow I will be chairing a session on the operation of the service charge regime in different forms of tenure at the National Housing Federation’s Conference on Leaseholder and Tenant Service Charges in London. Service charges continue to be a topical issue in both housing associations and local authorities.

Other key topics that will be discussed on the day include: How to effectively engage tenants and leaseholders, managing relationships with third party managing agents, dealing with sinking fund calculations, best practice post de-pooling of service charges and welfare reform and affordability.

I am looking forward to meeting clients and readers of my blog and newsletters at this event. Details can be found on the National Housing Federation website at: http://www.housing.org.uk/events/browse-events/leaseholder-and-tenant-service-charges/

There are a number of briefing papers on service charges that can be freely downloaded from our website at: http://awics.co.uk/ServiceCharges.asp We also offer training in service charges. For further information please contact me at Adrian.waite@awics.co.uk

On 22nd September I will be presenting the AWICS seminar ‘Right to Buy Extension, Sale of High Value Council Homes and Social Rent Reform’ in London. This session will look in detail at the financial implications for housing associations and local authorities of the government’s proposals to extend the ‘right to buy’ to tenants of housing associations in England; sell high value council homes; reduce social rents by 1% a year and charge market rents to tenants on high incomes.

The potential effect of these changes is significant. For example:

It is estimated that the extension of the ‘right to buy’ to housing association tenants will result in the sale of 145,000 housing association homes.

  • The government has said that the sold homes will be replaced but that this can be with shared ownership or low-cost home ownership homes and not necessarily with social or affordable housing. Many in the sector are sceptical about whether this will happen at all.
  • The sale of high value council homes will affect some local authorities significantly and others hardly at all. It remains to be seen how the proceeds will be used to compensate housing associations, what if any will be retained by local authorities, and how many replacement homes will be built.
  • The four years of 1% rent reductions will reduce the income of all housing associations and local authorities by about 12% when compared with existing business plans. In many cases this calls financial viability into question and in all cases will create a need to secure greater value for money.
  • Will the extension of ‘right to buy’ to housing associations affect their credit worthiness or even their legal status?

The session is proving very popular with people from local authorities and housing associations but we still have a few places available. For more information or to make a booking please click HERE

We are following up the session with three webinars that will look at the three aspects of the government’s reforms in turn. They are as follows:

Right to Buy for Housing Association tenants – 8th October - For more information or to make a booking please click here: http://app.webinarjam.net/register/16934/6f3b26f871

Sale of High Value Council Homes - 13th October - For more information or to make a booking please click here: http://app.webinarjam.net/register/16934/7f8d5c28ca

Social Rent Reforms - 19th October - For more information or to make a booking please click here: http://app.webinarjam.net/register/16934/96e6aab3a0

3rd September 2015

This week we have published the September edition of the ‘AWICS Housing News’. It includes articles on:

  • Updated figures on the 'Right to Buy' effect on local authorities
  • Local authorities developing through private companies and investment vehicles
  • Future of Housing Associations Enquiry and the Place Shapers' response to DCLG
  • Summary of the Welfare Reform and Work Bill
  • Successful resident engagement in Housing Associations
  • Chartered institute of Housing Conference

YOUR copy can be freely downloaded from HERE.

We have also started to accept bookings for our webinars that will be held during October 2015. There are four of them as follows:

Introduction to the Housing Revenue Account

This webinar provides a comprehensive introduction and overview of the housing revenue account in English local authorities. It will be held at 2pm on Thursday 1st October 2015. For more information or to make a booking please click here: http://app.webinarjam.net/register/16934/c32a2435d8

Right to Buy for Housing Association tenants

This webinar considers the United Kingdom government's proposal to extend the 'right to buy' to housing association tenants in England. It will be held at 2pm on Thursday 8th October 2015. For more information or to make a booking please click here: http://app.webinarjam.net/register/16934/6f3b26f871

Sale of High Value Council Homes

This webinar considers the United Kingdom government's proposal to oblige local authorities to sell high value council homes to fund the extension of the 'right to buy' to housing association tenants. It will be held at 2pm on Tuesday 13th October 2015. For more information or to make a booking please click here: http://app.webinarjam.net/register/16934/7f8d5c28ca

Social Rent Reforms

This webinar considers the United Kingdom government's proposal to oblige housing associations and local authorities to reduce social and affordable rents by 1% a year over the next four years; and to charge near-market rents to tenants with high incomes. It will be held at 2pm on Monday 19th October 2015. For more information or to make a booking please click here: http://app.webinarjam.net/register/16934/96e6aab3a0

Next Tuesday I will be chairing a session on the operation of the service charge regime in different forms of tenure at the National Housing Federation’s Conference on Leaseholder and Tenant Service Charges in London. I am looking forward to meeting clients and readers of my blog and newsletters at this event.

On 22nd September I will be presenting the AWICS seminar ‘Right to Buy Extension, Sale of High Value Council Homes and Social Rent Reform’ in London. This session will look in detail at the financial implications for housing associations and local authorities of the government’s proposals to extend the ‘right to buy’ to tenants of housing associations in England; sell high value council homes; reduce social rents by 1% a year and charge market rents to tenants on high incomes. The session is proving very popular with people from local authorities and housing associations but we still have a few places available. For more information or to make a booking please click HERE

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