Blog 21st December 2017

Dec 21st 2017, 15:18

Blog 21st December 2017

In this week’s blog, I refer to: Local Government Finance Settlement, Sajid Javid, Council Tax, Grenfell Tower, Owner-occupation and poverty, Scottish Budget, Derek Mackay, National Health Service, Brexit, the YMCA, Funding Supported Housing, Service Charges and Local Authority Housing Finance.

The provisional local government finance settlement for England for 2018/19 was announced on 19th December 2017. In launching it, Sajid Javid, the Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government said that he had provided local government with:

"The resources they need, the stability they've requested and the fairness they deserve."

The main points of the provisional settlement include:

  • Local authorities will be able to increase Council Tax by up to 3% without a referendum, in line with inflation. However, this is not enough to fund service pressures.
  • Most Combined Authority Mayors will not have a limit on increases that they can make in the precept as long as they can secure the agreement of constituent authorities.
  • Local government will retain 75% of business rates from 2020/21. Revenue Support Grant and Public Health Grant will be incorporated into this system.
  • There will be ten 100% business rate retention pilots in 2018/19.

The reaction from the sector has not been favourable. It is seen as a settlement that provides inadequate resources.

At the same time, Sajid Javid published a consultation paper on what he described as a fairer funding system for local government. He said that:

“I am today publishing a formal consultation on a review of relative needs and resources. I aim to implement a new system based on its findings in 2020/21.

“One particular issue that has caused concerns for some councils is the so-called negative Revenue Support Grant. I do recognise the strength of feeling in local government around this issue. So I can confirm that my department will be looking at fair and affordable options for dealing with negative Revenue Support Grant and we will formally consult on proposals in the spring.”

Details are available on the Communities & Local Government website at:

Sajid Javid has announced that the sections of the Housing & Planning Act 2016 that will oblige local authorities to sell high value council houses will not be implemented until April 2019. He also asked an interesting question at a recent National Housing Federation conference as follows:

“In one of the richest, most privileged corners of the United Kingdom – the world even – would a fire like this (Grenfell Tower) have happened in a privately owned block of luxury flats? If you believe the answer is ‘no’ even if you think it was simply less likely, then it’s clear that we need a fundamental rethink of social housing in this country.”

And in an article in ‘Inside Housing’, Mark Perry, Chief Executive of Vivid Housing Association pointed out that:

“Across the United Kingdom more than four million people in owner-occupied housing live below the poverty line.”

It appears that the housing market in Britain is currently failing social tenants and owner occupiers!

The Scottish Government’s Budget for 2018/19 was announced by Derek Mackay, Finance Secretary on 14th December 2017. It includes proposals to:

  • Increase spending on the health service by over £400 million - £200 million more than inflation.
  • Provide £120 million - over and above core education funding - direct to head teachers to help ensure all young people can fulfil their potential
  • Lift the one per cent public sector pay cap and provide for up to a three per cent pay rise for NHS staff, police, teachers and others earning up £30,000
  • Invest £243 million towards the expansion of free nursery education and childcare
  • Protect funding for Police and Fire services including retaining VAT refunds in full
  • Deliver a local government finance settlement worth more than £10.5 billion
  • Contribute £756 million towards investment of more than £3 billion by 2021 to deliver 50,000 affordable homes

Details are available on the Scottish Government’s website at:

The Home Affairs Sub-Committee of the House of Lords’ European Union Committee have written to Greg Clark MP, the Business Secretary, to warn that if Britain were to leave ‘Euratom’ as part of ‘Brexit’ (as seems likely) the supply of medical radioisotopes could stop; and this could make the detection of diseases more difficult. A copy of their letter can be found on the Parliamentary website at:

Last year AWICS assisted YMCA East London and YMCA London Southwest by preparing business plans and a business case for their merger that has now taken place. We subsequently assisted YMCA West London in preparing a business plan and business case for their participation in the merger. It has now been decided that YMCA West London and YMCA Slough will join the merged organisation. This will create the largest YMCA in Europe and will be a major player in housing London's young, vulnerable and homeless people. For further information, please click HERE

This week Paul Reeves has joined us as an Associate Consultant with expertise in housing. For further information, please click HERE

Last week we launched seminars on Funding Supported Housing that will be held in London and Manchester in April 2018.

The Government is planning to change the way in which Supported Housing is funded with separate arrangements for sheltered housing, short-term supported housing and long-term supported housing. In future, landlords will be expected to set rents and service charges in sheltered housing based on a new ‘sheltered rent’ set by government that will also be used to cap housing benefit and the housing element of universal credit. Short-term supported housing will be funded through a new locally administered grant. Long-term supported housing will be funded largely as it is now. The Government states that it is committed to protecting and boosting the supply of supported housing and ensuring it provides value for money and works for those who use it as well as those who pay for it. The government made a policy statement and started a consultation in October 2017.

These seminars will explain and examine the government’s proposals and their implications for local authorities, housing associations and their tenants. This will include local authorities in their commissioning and provider roles.

For more information or to make a booking, please click HERE

Our next seminars are on:

  • All You Want to Know about Service Charges in Social Housing in Wales
  • All You Want to Know about Service Charges in Social Housing in England
  • All You Want to Know about Local Authority Housing Finance

For further information or to make a booking, please click HERE.

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