Independence...Integrity...Value

Blog 6th April 2018

Apr 6th 2018, 14:36

Blog 6th April 2018

In this week’s blog, I refer to: Funding Supported Housing; Ministry for Housing, Communities & Local Government; Department for Work & Pensions; National Planning Policy Framework; South Norfolk District Council; Impact Housing Association; the Riverside Group; the National Housing Federation and Local Housing Companies.

Last October the government launched a consultation on the future funding of supported housing. In it they proposed a new sheltered housing rent and budgets administered by local authorities to fund short-term supported housing. This week the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government and the Department for Work & Pensions published a summary of the responses that they have received.

The sheltered and extra care consultation received 304 responses. The main points raised by respondents were:

  • Both sheltered and extra care housing have a range of features and characteristics to allow people to live independently. While there are common features, Government should not be too prescriptive in any definition.
  • Service charges should allow housing providers to continue to be able to recover actual costs and there are a number of legitimate reasons service charges vary. Any cap should be high enough to allow for reasonable rent and service charges; and
  • Many suggest that Government should be working with providers to model and/or test impacts and identify suitable service charge levels.

The short-term supported accommodation consultation received 434 responses. The main points raised by respondents were:

  • Concerns about the definition of the short-term accommodation model;
  • Assurance that Government is committed to maintaining this ring-fence indefinitely; and
  • A number of providers urged the Government to revise its policy.

Last week I provided in-house training in ‘funding supported housing’ for staff of a local authority in Northwest England. Attendees said that the information provided was relevant and the delivery was good. They described the session as thorough, useful, interesting, comprehensive and valuable. Specific comments received included:

  • Very comprehensive overview of the area.
  • Another useful visit to allow staff time and space to reflect on the proposed and potentially significant changes.

For further information on in-house training in funding supported housing, please click HERE

To view or download a copy of my briefing paper on the government's policy statement and consultation, please click HERE

The Ministry for Housing, Communities & Local Government, launched its consultation on the National Planning Policy Framework last month. I have been contacted by Keith Mitchell, who is the Housing Enabling & Strategy Officer at South Norfolk District Council, who writes as follows:

“As I interpret the draft wording, Annex 2, Glossary, Affordable Housing, para d (page 62) says that shared ownership will no longer be affordable in perpetuity or have a recycling obligation unless there is public grant funding.  As there is no public subsidy is S106 homes, the subsidy value provided through the S106 agreement will be lost when staircasing occurs.  Correct?  If so, a clear matter for consultees to raise.”

The consultation paper can be viewed or downloaded from HERE

I have written previously in this blog about the planned takeover of Impact Housing Association by the Riverside Group. I am a former Chair of the Association and continue to be a shareholding member.

Impact Housing Association are now out for consultation with tenants. Tenants have all been sent a leaflet entitled: ‘Growing together – A Partnership to Deliver Improvement through Action’ and a covering letter.

The covering letter includes the following statement:

“Your landlord and the services you receive will not change”

I find this statement surprising for two reasons:

  • If Impact becomes a subsidiary of the Riverside Group, surely the landlord will change!
  • If it is proposed to improve services and to make savings, surely that would result in change!

The leaflet states that Riverside will:

  • Provide the funding and expertise to improve your homes to a high standard – homes people are proud to live in.
  • Improve essential locally delivered services to the communities of Cumbria and North Lancashire, continuing to provide local employment.
  • Make sure that tenants’ voices are heard, working with tenants and residents to shape the future together.
  • Work with current staff teams, so that they feel valued and motivated to contribute to Impact’s success.
  • Ensure that Impact continues to meet the standards set out by the Government through the social housing regulator and the requirements of funders.

The leaflet seems rather generalised and vague to me. Furthermore, I have reservations about some of the information provided and would like to give one example. The leaflet states that:

“Riverside will protect Impact’s social enterprises and community projects (such as the Impact Furniture Service and the Oval) for a minimum of three years.”

My reservations about this statement are that:

  • ‘Protect’ is a rather vague word and this ‘protection’ is limited to only three years.
  • During that period, it is intended to ‘review activity’.
  • There is also a commitment to make savings of £185,000 a year at the Oval, Impact Furniture Stores and NGage.
  • When I asked exactly what services would continue at the Oval and whether it would continue to be cross-subsidised from other activities, I did not receive an informative response.

(Note: The Oval is a community centre on the Salterbeck estate in Workington and NGage are the young people’s services at Salterbeck)

A copy of the Impact leaflet can be viewed or downloaded from HERE

I have written a briefing paper on housing association mergers and the relevant guidance of the National Housing Federation. A copy can be viewed or downloaded from HERE

Local housing companies are independent arms-length commercial organisations wholly or partly owned by councils. They can develop, buy and manage properties within and outside of a local authority area. The homes they provide sit outside of the local government housing financing system and are not subject to the Housing Act and most of the social / affordable housing regulations. Over the past few years the number of companies has increased among councils across the whole of England. It is estimated that there are over 150 local authorities that have set up local authority housing companies However, they are not the only housing delivery vehicles that are available to Councils and this is still an emerging area in terms of policy and best practice.

I am currently putting together our seminar on ‘Local Housing Companies and Development’ that will be held in London on 8th May 2018. This seminar will explain and examine why and how local authorities are setting up local housing companies and other delivery vehicles. It is proving popular, but we still have a few places available.

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

To view or download a copy of our brochure, please click HERE

Our next seminars will be on:

  • All You Want to Know about Service Charges in Social Housing
  • All You Want to Know about Scottish Social Housing Finance

For information about all our seminars, please click HERE

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