13th November 2017

Nov 13th 2017, 11:22

Blog 13th November 2017

In this week’s blog, I refer to: Supported Housing, Department for Communities & Local Government, Housing Business Planning, Scottish Social Housing Finance, the National Health Service & the Nuffield Trust, Regional decline and marginalisation, Council Tax and Service Charges in Social Housing in Wales.

The Government issued a policy statement and consultation on ‘Funding Supported Housing’ on 31st October 2017.

Supported housing is any housing scheme where accommodation is provided alongside care support or supervision to help people to live as independently as possible in the community.

This Policy Statement and Consultation on Funding Supported Housing has been broadly welcomed in the sector in that is an important step towards ending the uncertainty surrounding the future funding of sheltered housing that has been caused by the government’s welfare reforms and earlier announcements; and as it represents the abandonment of the government’s proposals to cap housing benefit and the housing element of universal credit at the level of the local housing allowance, and to fund services in sheltered housing through a locally administered top-up grant.

However, the government does not address the question of how the funding and management of housing, adult social care and health could be better integrated.

The government proposes to introduce different funding mechanisms for sheltered housing, short-term supported housing and long-term supported housing.

In the case of sheltered housing there will be a ‘Sheltered Rent’ based on the existing rent formula plus a new element to cover service charges. It is not yet known how the service charges element will be calculated and this will be critical if the new system is to result in providers having the confidence to increase the provision of sheltered housing to meet increased need.

In the case of short-term supported housing, government will provide local authorities with a ring-fenced grant to fund all housing costs including rent and service charges. There are concerns that, as these will be short-term revenue grants, the system will not provide sufficient certainty for providers to commit to long-term investment in short-term supported housing; and that in time resources may be insufficient to meet needs and / or the ring-fence around the grant may be removed thus causing a contraction in the service.

In the case of long-term supported housing the government is proposing that the existing system based on housing benefit and the housing element of universal credit will be continued.

The government is currently consulting on the details of its proposals for sheltered housing and short-term supported housing.

I have written a briefing paper that summarises the policy statement and consultation and the reaction to it of the sector and provides some commentary. Your copy can be freely downloaded from HERE

Last week I presented our seminar: ‘Housing Business Planning in an Uncertain Environment’. Delegates 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 seminar as: Interesting, Useful, Practical, Clear and Valuable. Specific feedback received included:

  • Enjoyable and useful day.
  • Relaxed approach with opportunity to input and ask questions is appreciated.
  • Thank you for the interesting and informative session.

The previous week I presented an in-house training session on Scottish housing association finance for housing association board members in Scotland. Members said that the information provided was very relevant, the quality of presentation was good and that the training fully met their needs. They described the session as useful, clear, interesting, practical, thought-provoking and valuable. Individual comments included:

  • I look forward to the second session in two weeks’ time.
  • Really enjoyed it. Looking forward to next time. A lot to take in but very interesting.
  • Interesting information on ancillary subjects.

The follow-up session is this week. Further information about in-house training in Scottish social housing finance can be found by clicking HERE

Last week, the Nuffield Trust, a health charity, published a report on the implications for the National Health Service of Britain leaving the European Union. Among possible problems it highlighted were increased prices for National Health Service suppliers, interruptions to important pan-European research and delays to access to life-saving drugs. Mark Dayan, who authored the report, told ‘The New European’ that:

“Many different parts of European Union law and European Union institutions play an important role in enabling health care to be delivered to the standards we see today. Suddenly ending them with no replacement would do serious damage to an already strained National Health Service.”

Most commentators agree that an important factor in the ‘Leave’ victory in the 2016 referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union was the widespread disillusionment felt in some areas of Britain. However, since the referendum the United Kingdom government does not appear to have addressed this issue of marginalisation. Writing in ‘The New European’, A C Grayling, Master of the New College of Humanities wrote that:

“We should look at why a quarter of our population think that the European Union is to blame for the decline and marginalisation palpable in some of our regions, and we should address that decline and marginalisation, which are problems very largely created by our own domestic policies of austerity.”

Sir Michael Lyons, former Chief Executive of Birmingham City Council, takes up the same theme in the ‘Local Government Chronicle’ and links it to the government’s failure to reform Council Tax:

“If we want to understand Brexit we have to understand the sheer anger of communities… There’s no doubt that the differential impact, the differential fortunes have now paved the way… Nobody would speak up for the communities paying too much council tax because the revaluation didn’t recognise that the relative value of their properties had dropped dramatically… There are losers and they are the poorest so why would you not be able to see that good principles of fairness would demand some change here.”

AWICS has previously calculated that Council Tax as a proportion of house values among English cities is highest in Nottingham and lowest in Westminster.

Our next seminar is on: ‘All You Want to Know about Service Charges in Social Housing in Wales’. It will refer to all recent developments. For more information or to make a booking, please click HERE

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