Blog 24th April 2017

Apr 24th 2017, 09:56

Blog 24th April 2017

Philip Hammond’s comment that the Conservatives may increase taxes if re-elected and speculation that they may abandon the ‘triple-lock’ on pensions should come as no surprise. In view of the level of public debt, the size of the government’s deficit, projected low levels of growth and uncertainty caused by ‘Brexit’ I think it is inevitable that, whatever party forms the next government, they would have to keep their options open on taxation and pensions.

The fact that the government abandoned its budget proposal to increase national insurance in the face of criticism that this was contrary to the commitment in their 2015 manifesto not to increase taxes underlines this point.

It will also be interesting to see what the parties say about public expenditure including expenditure on local government, housing and welfare. Some commentators are predicting continued austerity, but others disagree. Writing in the ‘Local Government Chronicle’ recently, Jim Graham, former Chief Executive of Warwickshire County Council, tells us that ‘MPs are becoming nervous about further austerity – and that gives us leverage’. I expect that, whatever party forms the next government there will be tough choices to make.

Our seminar: Developments in Local Authority Housing Finance’ will be held in London on 14th June 2017 and in Leeds on 5th July 2017. This seminar will consider the implications of the outcome of the general election for local authority housing finance as well as all the other developments that are taking place. For more information or to make a booking, please click HERE

The May edition of the AWICS Housing News is published today. It includes articles on:

  • Housing and the General Election
  • Flexible Homelessness Support Grant Introduced
  • Global Accounts of Housing Associations show cause for concern
  • Service Charges: Depreciation and the Usage Charge
  • Increased Funding for Affordable Housing in Scotland
  • Housing News in Wales

Your copy can be freely downloaded from HERE

My recent briefing paper on the Flexible Homelessness Support Grant prompted Mark Smith, Strategic Finance Business Partner at Milton Keynes Council to write to me with his personal views as follows:

“Thanks for your briefing paper on Flexible Supported Housing Grant. You don’t mention, though the huge risk transfer involved – previously, if councils used more Temporary Accommodation in response to higher demand, Housing Benefit subsidy would have picked up the £60 per week, whereas now we’re cash-limited  so any growth is a cost to our General Fund not met by Housing Benefit Subsidy.

“Additionally, some Local Authorities will have seen significant growth in homelessness since the June 2016 base of the calculations – in Milton Keynes, for example, we had 463 families in Temporary Accommodation in June, but are now up to 718 (almost doubling). We think that the cost of the loss of the £60 Temporary Accommodation Management Fee will come to about £600,000 more than our allocation of Flexible Housing Support Grant in 2017/18 alone. Seeing the generosity of funding to Local Authorities with no Temporary Accommodation Management Fee rubs salt into this wound!

“I appreciate the government’s sensible desire to focus on prevention, and will do so, but think it unlikely that this will pay dividends large enough to offset the additional costs of loss of Temporary Accommodation Management Fee.”

I am grateful for Mark’s comments. Your copy of my briefing paper can be freely downloaded from HERE

We have recently updated our website with the following new and revised pages that you may like to view by clicking on the following links:

Our next seminar on ‘All You Want to Know about Service Charges in Social Housing’ in England will be held in Leeds on 17th May 2017. As usual this seminar is proving popular but there are still some places available. For more information or to make a booking please click HERE

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