Blog 2nd October 2017

Oct 2nd 2017, 14:02

Blog 2nd October 2017

In this week’s blog, I refer to: Local Authority Housing Finance, Conservative Party Conference, Help to Buy, the Chartered Institute of Housing, Student Finance, the Northern Powerhouse, the Private Rented Sector, Universal Credit, the Scottish Government, Service Charges & Business Planning.

Last week I presented a seminar on: ‘All You Want to Know about Local Authority Housing Finance’ in London. As usual, the feedback was good. Delegates said that the information provided was very relevant, the quality of presentation was good and that the training met their needs fully. They described the session as clear, useful, interesting, thorough, enjoyable and thought-provoking. Specific comments included:

  • This course is value for money, useful and informative, I will definitely recommend the course to anyone who is new to the Housing Revenue Account or who needs a refresher.
  • Being new to Housing Revenue Account and Local Authority Accounting I found the training very useful. It provided me with an overview of how local authorities account for housing and it met all my needs. I’m sure I will have further questions when I digest all the information.
  • This was very comprehensive. The course was very interesting - I need to go away and read the book to consolidate the information.
  • Thoroughly enjoyable, thank you.

Our next session of this seminar will be held in London on 13th March 2018. For further information or to make a booking, please click HERE

The United Kingdom government is taking the opportunity presented by the Conservative Party conference to make a number of announcements.

Teresa May, the United Kingdom Prime Minister, announced a £10billion increase in the budget for the ‘Help to Buy’ scheme yesterday but did not identify how it would be funded. This followed analysis by the Chartered Institute of Housing that showed that 79% of the United Kingdom government’s housing budget is already spent on subsidising home-ownership. It has also prompted the Adam Smith Institute to criticise the scheme because increasing subsidies for home-ownership while doing nothing to increase supply would simply increase house prices making home-ownership less affordable. Others have suggested that, in view of the chronic shortage of affordable housing to rent and increasing homelessness, the government’s priority should be affordable housing to rent – preferably social housing.

Teresa May also announced that on student finance the fee cap would remain at £9,250 per year and, more significantly, that repayments would begin when graduates started earning £25,000 a year, up from the current level of £21,000 a year.

However, this has not satisfied everyone in the sector. For example, Alistair Jarvis, Chief Executive of ‘Universities United Kingdom’ told ‘Public Finance’ that:

“Universities UK would like to see the government going further by reintroducing maintenance grants for those most in need and reducing interest rates for low and medium earners.  We also need to do more to reverse the worrying decline in the numbers of part-time and mature students.”

Phillip Hammond, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, has announced additional investment in the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ of £300million for railways and £100million for roads. This announcement has been welcomed in the North but it still leaves most of the United Kingdom government’s budget for transport committed to London. For example, the London Crossrail development alone is costing £14.8billion!

At the same time, Sajid Javid, the Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government announced a package of measures to protect the rights of tenants in the private rented sector. These included requiring landlords to register with an ombudsman scheme and all letting agents to be regulated as well as incentivising landlords to tenancies of at least twelve months. Some critics consider that these are timid measures and more needs to be done to protect tenants in the Private Rented Sector.

It was also confirmed that Universal Credit would continue to be rolled out.

The October edition of the ‘AWICS Scotland News’ has now been published. It includes articles on:

  • The Scottish Government’s New Fiscal Powers and Budgetary Process
  • Scottish Government calls for more devolution after Brexit
  • Scottish Planning Bill and Affordable Housing
  • Housing Statistics for Scotland provide mixed news
  • Housing (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill
  • Welfare Reform and Rent
  • Glasgow to develop sustainable solutions to fuel poverty with €4.1million EU grant
  • Perth & Kinross Council completes new Council Housing
  • School Library Improvement Fund    

Your copy can be freely downloaded by clicking HERE

This week I will be presenting an in-house session of: ‘All You Want to Know about Service Charges in Social Housing’ for a local authority in Wales. I am looking forward to it.

For further information about in-house training in service charges, please click HERE

Our next seminar will be on: ‘Housing Business Planning in an Uncertain Environment’. For further information or to make a booking, please click HERE

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