Independence...Integrity...Value

Blog 15th October 2018

Oct 15th 2018, 20:00

Blog 15th October 2018

In this week’s blog, I refer to: Local Authority Housing Finance, Theresa May, the Borrowing Cap, the Local Government Chronicle, Lord Gary Porter, the Local Government Association, Hartlepool Borough Council, Woking Borough Council, Sheerwater Regeneration scheme, Training and Seminars.

Last week we held the London session of our seminar ‘Developments in Local Authority Housing Finance’. It was well attended and well received. 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, Clear, Thorough and Valuable. Specific feedback received included:

  • Very informative as always.
  • Useful overview of developments.
  • Thank You.

This course is now available in-house. For more information, please click here

In last week’s blog, I wrote about Theresa May’s announcement that the ‘borrowing cap’ on local authority housing revenue account borrowing would be abolished. I advised that people should be cautious in welcoming the announcement as we had yet to see the details. However, this week, the ‘Local Government Chronicle’ reports that:

“There are no strings attached”

But also reports Lord Gary Porter (Leader of the Local Government Association) saying that Councils that have transferred their housing stock will not have access to any borrowing powers for new council housing as follows:

“Some areas would not benefit from the end of the housing revenue account borrowing cap as they had transferred their entire housing stock... Those councils had made a conscious decision and made it clear they don’t want to have council houses.”

I am surprised by this as I know of several councils that have transferred their housing stock in the past but would now like to build new council homes and to re-open their housing revenue accounts. Some councils, including Hartlepool Borough Council have already done so. I don’t see why these councils should be excluded from using the new borrowing powers.

This week I am in Woking, where I am the Independent Tenants’ Advisor for the Sheerwater Regeneration scheme.

sheerwater_graphic

The Sheerwater Estate in Woking

Plans to transform Sheerwater were approved by Woking Borough Council on Thursday 6th April 2017. By using the existing sense of community, the regeneration provides an exciting opportunity to create a thriving, balanced and sustainable community for the future that meets the housing needs of residents.

The regeneration will allow local people of all ages to benefit from high quality new homes, excellent leisure and retail facilities, open green spaces and improved transport links, as well as a local centre that blends social, retail, recreation and community uses.

It will also provide economic benefits for local people and businesses by offering local job opportunities and ensuring that much of the money spent on the scheme is spent with local companies.

A wide range of house types will ensure a choice of modern, spacious, energy efficient homes that are economic to maintain, and flexible enough to satisfy diverse and changing needs.

Tomorrow I will be at the Parkview Community Centre on the estate to meet with tenants.

The Council has published a ‘Sheerwater Community Charter’ that sets out their commitments to residents of Sheerwater affected by the proposed regeneration project.

The Council has committed to ensure that all Council Tenants living within the Sheerwater regeneration boundary are provided with the appropriate support and assistance to help them understand the relocation process and to make moving to a new home as simple as possible.

To help with this, the Council has made the following commitments:
  • We will do everything we can to ensure that anyone currently living in Sheerwater can remain in Sheerwater or has the opportunity to return to Sheerwater should they need to move as part of the regeneration project.
  • We will ensure you are given priority status when applying for a new home through the Council’s Choice Based Lettings Scheme, known as Hometrak.
  • We will ensure your housing and support needs are correctly assessed so you can move to a property which best meets your needs.
  • We will pay for you to have access to advice through a recognised independent tenant adviser. Any services that the Council pays for must be agreed in advance.

The Charter covers:

  • Engagement and Support
  • Being Open and Honest
  • Elderly and Vulnerable Tenants
  • Rehousing Options
  • Property Entitlement
  • Compensation
  • Right to Improve
  • Right to Buy
  • Possession proceedings

For more information about our work as Independent Tenants' Advisor for Sheerwater, please click here

To view or download a copy of the ‘Sheerwater Community Charter’ insofar as it relates to tenants, please click here

Our next seminar is: ‘All You Want to Know about Local Authority Housing Finance’ and will be held in London on 6th November 2018. As usual, this seminar is proving popular, but we still have a few places available.

This seminar is designed to give an introduction and overview to this important subject and is fully up to date with all developments. It is designed for people who are not experts in housing finance, but who need to understand the basics and achieve an overview of what is going on. It is suitable for councillors, housing managers, tenant representatives, finance staff who have limited experience of local authority housing finance and others who realise that an understanding of housing finance can place them at an advantage!

The session will answer the following questions:

  • How does the Housing Revenue Account work?
  • How does the Housing General Fund work?
  • How does the Housing Capital Programme work?
  • What is going on in the world of local authority housing finance?
  • What are the Financial Opportunities and Threats for Local Authority Housing?

For more information or to make a booking, please click here.

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