Page 1

easternoutlook The newsletter for the Chartered Institute of Housing Eastern Region » Spring 2011

CIH validates new Anglia Ruskin course Anglia Ruskin University’s new Foundation Degree in Management of Social and Affordable Housing has been successfully validated by the Chartered Institute of Housing. This means that Student Membership of CIH is available to all students on the course, and that this can be upgraded to Corporate Membership (MCIH) upon successful completion of the Foundation Degree. So how is Anglia Ruskin’s new Foundation Degree different? “With this course we took a new approach to developing skills in housing”, explains Anglia Ruskin’s Alison Greig. “We consulted with the sector and found a very strong demand for the practical skills that enable people to respond to a rapidly evolving environment – for example change management, leadership, commercial awareness, project management, customer service and multi-agency working. We also found that many people found it difficult to travel to a university campus every week. However, although they liked the flexibility that work-based learning can offer, housing is very people-focused and they wanted to be

able to physically meet and interact with their tutors, guest lecturers and fellow students. So our challenge was to design a course that not only provides the skills that the sector needs, but also delivers in a way that offers both the flexibility of distance learning and the human contact of workshops.” Alison’s colleague Tom Taylor takes up the story. “It struck us that the sector was asking for a course that covered diverse subject areas; perhaps unsurprisingly given the complex nature of housing. We decided that this was a great opportunity to bring together our University’s expertise in Social Policy, Social Work, Business and the Built Environment in order to design a new programme that reflects the needs of the sector. So we worked with our colleagues from across Anglia Ruskin in order to design the course. However, getting a new higher education course approved is a complicated process. Every new university degree has to go through a rigorous quality assurance procedure that will ensure that the content reaches the required academic standards, that the course is relevant and that the students will be supported throughout. So how will the new course be delivered? “Students will learn through their work, with additional study at home”, Tom explains. “For example if they are learning about customer service, rather than sending them to

www.cih.org

Edited by Phil Lyons, Communications Officer Eastern Region Committee

the library to read a case study about how someone in California approaches customer service, we can ask them to look at their own practice and what is happening around them, reflect on what they see and assess any changes they might make. This approach makes the learning real and relevant. Of course they’ll be supported throughout by their tutors and also by their fellow students through our online learning community. In addition there will be four workshops each year when they can come in to our Cambridge campus and meet each other. By reducing the burden of travelling we hope to make the new course viable for a much more diverse group of students throughout the Eastern Region.” The course has been developed in consultation with the sector, in order to develop the key management skills required in a rapidly changing world. There is more information on the Anglia Ruskin University website: www.anglia.ac.uk/socialhousing and you can contact Anglia Ruskin directly: Alison Greig: alison.greig@anglia.ac.uk , 07545 204 358 or Tom Taylor: tom.taylor@anglia.ac.uk , 07454 204 362

Contents 2 The Big Society... Here to stay? 3 Localism - A passport to Pimlico? 3 Affordable rents - latest news 4 Region to get an extra £160m to spend on Decent Homes 5 Choice based letting schemes - are they working? 6 Governance Working Groups 8 Anti-social behaviour back in the news 10 Housing Benefit reform - the basics 11 Full of Eastern Promise 12 Events


easternoutlook

The Big Society... Here to stay? By Colin Wiles Chair Eastern Region Committee

The news that Liverpool had withdrawn from the Big Society pilot and that Nat Wei is scaling down the time he spends on big society work has been met with glee in some quarters. Catherine Bennett in the Observer (6th February) set the sneering tone, claiming that the “big society is collapsing under its inherent absurdity.” She mentions David Cameron’s speech in Liverpool last July, where he had painted a vision of parents setting up new schools, or charities rehabilitating offenders and neighbourhoods taking over social services. “Or, as some like to think of it, organised scabbing.” Her words, not mine. The offensive notion that community empowerment can be seen as “scabbing” perhaps shows the extent to which statism is engraved on the hearts of some commentators and practitioners. The truth is that the big society, or a variant of it, is becoming the new centre ground of British politics - a place that both Tories and Labour want to occupy and claim as their own. In a recent, largely unreported, speech to the Fabian Society Ed Miliband described the failings of New Labour: “We became too technocratic and managerial…we sometimes lost sight of people as individuals and of the

importance of communities. In our use of state power, too often we didn’t take people with us. That is why over time people railed against the target culture, the managerialism of public service reform and overbearing government.” Miliband has talked regularly of the “good society” and in his speech he linked this to political renewal. “The only way we rebuild the case for politics is from the ground up. The campaign for the local library, the local zebra crossing, the improvement of a school, must be our campaign.”

It’s clear to me that both the Conservative and Labour version of the big society are underpinned by similar values and principles. I think both parties recognise that the state has to take a more strategic role, and that communities need to be empowered to do more for themselves. Both parties recognise that there is a public appetite for civility and civil action, for the decentralisation of power and a less hands-on state. Big Society, Good Society. Whatever you want to call it, it’s here to stay.

Comment: Thinkers and Think Tanks Much of the government’s current thinking on housing has emerged from various think tanks, such as the Centre for Social Justice or Policy Exchange. There is a view in these quarters that social housing has failed – that it traps people in benefits, does not encourage mobility and fails to promote employment. Policy Exchange also thinks the UK social housing sector is too large – 17% compared to a European average of 10%. There is a view that the sector could be reduced in size as a result of these musings.

2

We all know that the social housing sector contains many disadvantaged people, but this is the result of decades of centrally imposed allocation policies – blaming housing providers for housing the poor and needy is like blaming

hospitals for looking after too many sick people! The fact is that the vast majority of tenants are decent, hard working people who want the best for themselves and their families. All housing providers are engaged in a huge range of projects that offer training, employment, childcare, financial assistance and a myriad of other initiatives. We need to shout theses successes from the rooftops and to counter some of the negative views of our sector.


SPRING 2011

Localism - A Passport to Pimlico? The Localism Bill includes several interesting provisions that are designed to empower local communities and promote the Big Society. Firstly, communities will have the right to challenge their council over the way services are run, and possibly to take over services in the interests of the community. Secondly, there will be a new right to bid to acquire local assets like redundant pubs, shops or libraries and to run these in the interests of the community. Thirdly, people will be entitled to trigger referenda on big local issues. It will be interesting to see how these concepts will work in detail. Will community groups be willing to commit time and effort to take over the role of their local council? Will funding be made available to allow communities to take on and run assets? Some would argue that these proposals, alongside the Big Society mantra, are just a smokescreen for massive spending cuts. But, the concept of community empowerment is attractive and hard to argue against. But how does the localism agenda fit with wider social and economic objectives? For example, there is an urgent need for more Gypsy and Traveller sites and public funding is available to local authorities and housing associations to deliver these. But the

localism agenda means that it will be almost impossible to get these through the planning system. Similarly, where I live in Cambridge, the area needs to grow in order that high

growth? Ultimately, there comes a point when the government has to govern in the national interest and they cannot just wash their hands and say it is up to local people. If they are serious about localism, the government’s proposals could throw up interesting results, and the outcomes may not always be what the government likes. The danger is that we end up with an archipelago of “Passport to Pimlico” style communities, each one self-contained and suspicious of outsiders. It’s a great film, but I’m not sure it is a vision of our society that would work. It is not the way to build the social capital that will bind different communities together.

“The government’s proposals could throw up interesting results, and the outcomes may not always be what the government likes.” tech industries can make a contribution to the national economy. This means more homes and better infrastructure, but will local people, empowered by the government, support such

Some people in the sector are sceptical about the localism proposals. Some believe that housing associations in particular, with their history of place making and their nonpublic status, are well placed to embrace the localism and Big Society agendas. But all of us will need to ensure that any initiatives are progressive and inclusive.

Affordable Rents - latest news The government’s prospectus for affordable rents was published in February. On the face of it, the proposals for affordable rents and flexible tenancies are puzzling. The government wants to reduce the deficit, and cut the housing benefit bill by over £2 billion a year. Yet it has been estimated that the proposed “affordable rents” will add around £1.6 billion to the HB bill over the next four years.

When the proposals for affordable rents were first announced many people assumed that these properties would be let through the intermediate market – to key workers and people with reasonably well paid jobs, but no, the government insists that they will be allocated through existing arrangements – to the people in the most need, just like other social housing. In many high value parts of the country the gap between social rents and affordable rents could be £100 a week or more. In other areas the gap is negligible. If these high rent properties are let to those in the most need there is a danger of trapping people on benefits, because working people will be unable to pay the rent and will therefore decline the property at the outset. So, on the face of it, the increase in the housing benefit bill will take a large chunk out of any planned savings in social housing grant. The affordable rent programme will supposedly produce 150,000 new homes over four years, but if it’s funded by the housing benefit budget it is not exactly joined up government.

3


easternoutlook

Region to get an extra £160m to spend on Decent Homes Last year the Coalition Government announced that they would be going ahead with changes to the way local authority housing is financed. Part of those changes published in November 2010 was about the way funding for decent homes would be provided for. Previously, local authorities had to have an ALMO that had achieved at least a 2 Star inspection from the Audit Commission to enable them to access loans to bring their stock up the Decent Homes Standard. In the Eastern Region there were 4 ALMOs set up to do this: Colchester Borough Homes; South Essex Homes (in Southend); Stevenage Homes; and St George’s Community Housing (in Basildon). A fifth ALMO set up in Welwyn Hatfield in April 2010 was not created to access the funding. All authorities with a backlog of Decent Homes work were now able to apply for funding regardless of whether they had an

4

ALMO or not and regardless of the ‘quality’ of housing service they delivered. In the Eastern Region 5 Authorities were told by the Homes and Communities Agency the results of their bids for funding from a £1.6 billion pot – of these only Colchester were unsuccessful. Harlow, Basildon, Stevenage and Southend all received allocations worth a total of £160m over the 4 years of the programme. This funding will allow them all to continue to bring more homes up to standard – in Basildon for instance, St George’s Community Housing will bring 5,600 homes up to the DH standard over the next 4 years

– roughly 1,400 each year which is great news for the tenants. There is a sting in the tail however. Because the funding is no longer dependant on there being an ALMO, many authorities that have them have begun reviews to assess the benefits of either keeping their housing service at arms length or bring it back inhouse to save on the costs of different layers of management that the ALMO requires. It’s not certain that all ALMOs will be taken back in however, Welwyn Hatfield remains fully committed to their ALMO and another is due to go live in April this year when Dover, Canterbury, Shepway and Thanet Council combine resources to start up East Kent Housing – a sign of things to come? For more information on ALMOs you can click here to visit the National Federation of ALMOs website


SPRING 2011

Choice based lettings schemes – are they working? The Chartered Institute of Housing and National Housing Federation are currently working together to organise a conference on Choice Based Lettings Schemes and Tenure Reform in the East region to be held at the Trinity Centre, Cambridge some time during May 2011. The event will feature speakers from the Communities & Local Government Department, Choice Based Letting Scheme providers in the East region, a speaker from De Montfort University who has researched CBLs and will highlight good practice and encourage lots of discussion on what scope there is for improving CBLs further. Watch this space!

STOP PRESS! The event has now been confirmed as the 4th May 2011 and will be held at the Trinity Centre, Cambridge. Further details will be available nearer the date.

Wild adventurists take on the might of the River Thames to raise money for local charities Paul Kingston, Director of Housing and Care Services at Orwell Housing Association Limited and regional committee member and Steve Gray, who works for the Support and Advice Project (SNAP) did their intrepid journey last August canoeing 180 miles and raising £1500 for their chosen local charities. Paul did his bit for special projects run by Orwell whilst Steve, raised his share for the Pete Cornish Welfare Fund which helps people who have problems with their benefits. Jointly they also set up a Just Giving fund for East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH) Tree House Appeal that is raising money to build a new Children’s Hospice in Ipswich. Their adventure began close to the source of the country’s most famous river, in Cricklade, Gloucestershire and took eight days to complete. Steve commented: “It just seemed like a good adventure, a personal challenge for us both, whilst raising money for some very worthwhile charities. It was not all plain sailing for us, there are around 47 locks on the Thames, and once we got through to Teddington we hit the tidal Thames. We had to be careful not sink the canoe at this point!” The couple camped along the way making the trip even more challenging. In total Paul and Steve raised £1700 which meant that £850 went to EACH, £350 to Orwell Charities and £500 for The Peter Cornish Welfare Fund.

gston Steve Cook and Paul Kin

5


easternoutlook

Governance Working Members will be aware of the ongoing work being carried out to review the Governance arrangements of CIH. We thought you might like to have a brief update on the work of each of the groups. In general, there has been a high level of activity across the groups, with nearly 100 members actively involved in considering and agreeing the detail of CIH governance in the future. Furthermore, there is a strong level of discussion between the groups - in particular between Chairs. In one instance, groups have met on the same day in the same venue, to enable group members to meet over lunch and share discussion ideas. Most of the groups are on course to meet the deadline set by Council.

Working Group A: Skills Matrix The group has had considerable discussion over email, and held a meeting earlier this month. It has considered the requirements of key Governing Board members, and in particular the Chair of the Board, and Chief Executive and the President. The group has agreed that the relationship between these three individuals will be critical and to this end, the Chair of the group is liaising with the Chair of Group H, which is considering the role of the President. Some of the skills which this group is considering include: • skills in strategic decision making for all members of the Governing Board, • ability of the Chair to be an effective and diplomatic influencer of key decision makers within the sector, • leadership skills of the President, in leading the sector. The group will continue deliberations and reach conclusions and recommendations to Council.

Working Group B: System of Appointment for Members of the Governing Board This working group has considered several methods of appointment to Governing Boards by charities and by other organisations- it has also had regard to the NCVO Guidance on Appointment of Trustees. It seeks to design an inclusive and open system and an approach to appointment which attracts highly skilled individuals who are committed to the vision and values of the CIH. It will undertake further discussion among existing and previous Trustees, and among the membership between now and final recommendations to Council.

Working Group C: Code of Guidance Group members have discussed their task via email and have considered some examples of existing governance codes. They have begun to contribute ideas on potential components

6

for the CIH Code, and are now awaiting the emergence of specific proposals from the other working groups before beginning to shape the Code. It was always expected that this group’s work would take place over an extended period, with final proposals being presented to Council immediately after changes to the Charter and Byelaws have been approved in General Meeting. However, further progress will be reported to Council in the light of the recommendations being made by the other working groups.

Working Group D: Terms of Reference for the Governing Board This group has worked via email in the main. It has spent time researching the existing Terms of Reference of governing bodies in other similar organisations, reviewing relevant literature, as well as the effectiveness of the TOR of the current Council. It has undertaken a comparison across organisations- to enable initial framing of a new Terms of Reference. The key issues for the group are to frame the strategic role, to clarify how the Board will delegate responsibility, how often it will meet and how it will ensure accountability to members.

Working Group E: Terms of Reference for the NBUs Working Group E is currently considering a draft Terms of Reference for the National Business Units, and is currently seeking the views of members of NBU Boards to facilitate discussion on the future roles and responsibilities of the National Business Units. Key issues for this group include, the need to develop roles and responsibilities that reflect current and planned future activity; ensuring a clear and effective relationship between NBUs and the new Governing Board where NBUs no longer have a guaranteed place on the board; the potential size of the board; and whether NBUs should have flexibility to agree their own approach to appointment/election.

Working Group F: Terms of Reference for the Regional Committees Working Group F has had two meetings. Key issues for the group include; the need for an agreed description of the future roles and responsibilities of Regional Committees; ways to better integrate Regional Committees into the business of the organisations; ways to better resource Regional Committees to meet their roles and responsibilities; the relationship between Regional Committees and the new Governing Board.

Working Group G: Delegated Boards This group has played a proactive role in engaging with members on the Moodle site- it has set out the current architecture of Delegated Boards- including, Policy and Practice Board, Professional Development Board, through to the Examination Board and the Professional Conduct Board. A key issue for the group is clarifying the relationship between the Governing Board and delegated committees, and between the Board and ad-hoc. It recognises the important relationship between this group and group D: Terms of Reference for the Governing Board. It further recognises that the new Governing Board will absorb many of the functions of the existing Management Board, so it may recommend the dissolution of Management Board in the future.

Working Group H: The Role of the President This group has met in November and has produced an outline paper of initial key issues. It has considered the role of the President, and agreed that the President should be: a figurehead for the profession and an ambassador for CIH; an inspirational figure for CIH members and the wider housing sector and to provide “challenge” for improvement; to be a “champion” for housing issues; should lead CIH’s international relationships and development work; to be


SPRING 2011

Groups one of the “public faces” of CIH alongside Chair of Governing Board and Chief Executive, including media relations and PR; should resolve any disputes that might occur between the Chair (of the Governing Board) and Chief Executive. The group has recognised the importance of relationships between the Chair of the Board, the CEO and the President. It acknowledges the importance of attracting someone with the right skills to do the job; while also understanding that the strategic issues are being made elsewhere. The group will continue to deliberate.

Working Group I: Equality Impact Assessment This group has made progress by making several decisions over email. It intends to progress its work mainly by email for now, with meetings in person as necessary. So far, it has chosen an appropriate equality impact assessment tool from the range of tools available; it has applied this EQIA tool to the governance framework as approved at the AGM, and has identified a range of equality issues which may emerge. The groups sees its role as playing a key part in helping other groups consider the equality implications of their work. The group Chair will be contacting other Chairs to highlight the outcome of the recent EQIA exercise. The group will continue to undertake impact assessment of the governance changes throughout the transition process.

Summary Work is ongoing and each Group submitted proposals to Council when it met in London on 9 February. Since then, ideas have been further refined for consideration by Council and regional committee members at OneCIH in April before going forward to the AGM in Harrogate in June for decision by the wider membership. If there is agreement at each stage, it is expected that the new governance arrangements will begin to be introduced with effect from the beginning of January 2012. Council has approved a transitional plan in readiness for the new arrangements, and it includes reducing the size of Council from the AGM in June next year until the new governance structures are in place. This measure requires the approval of the membership, because the Institute’s Charter and Byelaws need to be changed to allow this to happen, and all corporate members will soon receive ballot papers through the post asking them to vote on the question. You can contact Richard Docker at CIH if you’d like any more information on the work of any of the groups or if you have any questions.

“There is a strong level of discussion between the groups - in particular between Chairs. In one instance, groups have met on the same day in the same venue.”

How does your organisation measure up to the Big Society? In the third of its successful annual one-day Policy Conferences the Eastern Region Committee has once more attracted top speakers to help you negotiate your way through the maze of new policies which will challenge us all in the coming year. Confirmed speakers so far include Alistair McIntosh (HQN), Abigail Davis (CIH) and members of the new, innovative Welwyn Hatfield Joint Tenant Scrutiny Panel Booking details will be available on the CIH website soon and in the next Newsletter.

7


easternoutlook

Anti-Social Behaviour back in the news Article by Traci Dixon, Group Manager for Housing Services at South Essex Homes

In February the Coalition announced a review of the tools available to the professionals and the Courts to deal with anti-social behaviour after a series of high profile cases where actions apparently came too late to help the people involved. You can read more about the consultation here. The Home Office are seeking as many views as possible so please take the time to respond to the consultation as well. Southend Borough Council’s Family Intervention Project (FIP) set up in October 2006, through its various projects has since its inception engaged with 103 families and actively worked with 63 to date. There are currently 19 families being worked with which includes 3 families in the Core Unit (see below). All of this work has produced some significant outcomes already – 91% reduction in ASB; 71% reduction in health related matters, including substance misuse; 60% improvement in basic literacy and numeracy and a 17% increase in employment (of more than 30 hours a week). Southend’s Core Unit Southend Borough Council and South Essex Homes were successful in securing the highest award in the country of £230,000, under the “Family Intervention Project Challenge Fund for Social Housing Providers and Children’s Services”. The funding enabled a ‘Core Unit’ to be set up in March 2010 in a converted homeless hostel. The unit is run by staff seconded from Youth Offending Service, South Essex Homes, Essex Police and the Drug and Alcohol Team. The work to convert the property finished in April 2010 and the first family moved into it in May. Carol Compton, Head of Youth Offending Services said “ The joint application from the Council’s Youth Offending Service and South Essex Homes allows us to work together to tackle the cycle of repeat homelessness and anti-social behaviour. We all know bringing up a family can sometimes be a difficult task, and this programme provides support and advice to lead a normal family life. Families at risk of eviction due to antisocial behaviour more often than not are the same families whose children are disproportionately likely to face a lifetime of social exclusion and offending.

8

These families are often causing significant levels of anti-social behaviour creating a detrimental effect on the lives of their neighbours and others in their communities.” You can read more on the South Essex Homes’ ASB work here. The press release from CIH on the proposals can be seen here, and information on the CIH ASB Action Team can be found here.

Southend Borough Council’s progress so far:

91% 71% reduction in ASB

reduction in health related matters, including substance misuse

60%

improvement in literacy & numeracy

17%

increase in employment (of more than 30 hours a week).


SPRING 2011

Conference 2010 Last year’s event saw a packed programme with over 40 speakers on topics such as Value for Money and using Family Intervention Projects to tackle ASB. Our decision to use Alastair Campbell as a headline speaker was controversial but he was well received – he even blogged about it here and said very nice things about some of the delegates. In total over 500 people attended the 3 days, and with 22 exhibitors on each of them it was certainly a busy event. There were some initial teething problems with parking on the first day – the pouring rain didn’t help at all, and the committee felt that we should do more to try and get delegates to come by public transport next time – the train and bus stations are just a few minutes’ walk away from the hotel entrance. We’re always happy to hear your views on this or anything else about the conference – drop the editor a line and we’ll make sure it’s passed on to the Conference lead. 95% of delegates rated the whole event as good or very good and 90% felt that the conference was good value for money – an excellent result in difficult economic times. The catering this year received some very favourable comments and 90% of attendees who filled out their feedback forms rated it as good or very good, although apparently someone “was disappointed with the lunch buffet on 9 November, the quality was good but it was cold” – that was the only

negative comment about the food! The Quiz night at the end of day 2 was attended by 60 delegates and was won by a team of 5 people from around the region – it was a fun evening and certainly a different way to keep the little grey cells working rather than reading the latest news from DCLG or the HCA! Once again many of our exhibitors and sponsors came back for another year – most are repeaters, and all felt it was well worth it. Problems in previous years with getting delegates to spend time in the exhibition seem to have been solved at the Radisson with plenty of contacts and arrangements made! The committee is already working hard on 2011’s Conference which again will be held at the Radisson Blu Hotel at Stansted. Our conference lead, Tracey Cassidy welcomes ideas for speakers, and volunteers from organisations across the region to speak or run workshops on a variety of subjects and good practice – to contact her you can again email the editor.

9


easternoutlook

Housing benefit reform - the basics Article by Simone Russell, Policy and Practice Officer, Eastern Region Committee

Proposed Government cuts to the housing benefit (HB) system are part of its much –talked about welfare reform programme and with 4.8 million claimants in the UK this is not surprisingly, big news! It’s also big news for the housing sector - 3.29 million HB claimants live in social housing. The CIH Policy Team in Coventry has been busy assessing the impact of these changes and a wealth of information is available on the CIH website. For those of you who haven’t been surfing the CIH pages/reading Inside Housing for the past 4 months or glued to ‘Question Time’ every Thursday night (shame on you!) here are the key facts affecting our sector to whet your appetite for debate!

Changes to the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) Caps to allowances From April 2011(existing claimants from nine months after anniversary of their claim from April 2011) changes to the way LHA will be calculated come into effect. LHA is money paid by local authorities for private tenants. Previously the values paid were calculated by looking at the market rental area and limiting payments so that they equated to same or less than the 50th percentile of the market rate. In the new

system LHA rates will be set at the 30th percentile. This will result in an average drop of £10 per week for the Eastern Region (source: Cambridge Centre for Housing and Planning Research report How will changes to Local Housing Allowance affect lowincome tenants in private rented housing? September 2010 - Click here to read the report). The Government is capping the maximum housing benefit payable to the size of the property as well: • One bedroom - £250 • Two bedroom - £290 • Three bedroom - £340 • Four bedroom - £500 • Five bedroom - removed. Therefore this will be the same rate as for four bedrooms (An additional bedroom rate will be allowed for LHA/HB claimants who are disabled and have a proven need for overnight care). LHA and the Consumer Price Index (CPI) From April 2013 existing LHA rates will be frozen and then up-rated by the CPI, rather than rental market evidence. (Unlike the Retail Price Index, CPI does not take into account housing costs). Claims from single people aged 25-35 Currently single people aged 25 and under are allowed the local rent for a room in a shared house. From 2012 the age threshold will be raised to 35. People excluded from these rules are care leavers, people with severe disabilities and housing association/ council tenants. Non-dependent deductions Tenants living with an adult ‘non-dependent’ receive a reduced level of HB. There are six levels of non-dependent deductions, depending on the income of the nondependent adult.

10

The Government aims to increase the rate, which has been frozen since 2001, so that the rate catches up with itself by 2014. This will begin in April 2011. Housing Benefit payments to reflect Household size From April 2013 Housing Benefit for working age claimants in social housing will be limited to the rent required for the size of property that they are assessed as needing. This is to try and deal with the amount of underoccupation in the country – currently some 670,000 of social homes are under-occupied. More detail is expected soon. Overall annual benefit cap of £26,000 The Government has announced that by 2013 no family on benefits would be able to claim more than the average household income of a working family. This will equate to £26,000 by 2013 (£500 per week). Some benefits will be excluded from these calculations – War Widows Pension, Disability Living Allowance and Working Families Tax Credits for instance. The single person’s cap will be £350 per week. It is anticipated that the cap will operate by reducing housing benefit where the total exceeds £500. Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) DHP will be made by councils where extra help to meet housing costs is needed. Tenants who are unable to afford their rent will approach their local authority and ask for assistance. The money would be used to help pay the rent for a short time, for example while a child finishes school, or to provide a rent deposit for other (cheaper?) accommodation. The current budget is £20m a year. This will rise to £30m in 2011/12 and £60m from 2012/13. Some of the other proposed measures included in the Welfare Reform White Paper such as cutting Housing Benefit by 10% after the claimant had been in receipt of Job Seekers’ Allowance for more than 12 months and the requirement to pay rental costs from a universal benefit that was set to be introduced in 2013, have not now appeared in the legislation and appear to be on hold.


SPRING 2011

Full of Eastern Promise Your Regional Committee will bring its members the policy issues that really matter with the launch of its Eastern Promises for 2011-12. These set out the areas of policy which we will focusing on over the next year or so, to make sure our members are kept informed on the issues which really count and are able to take part in debates and activities around these topics. The policy areas we have chosen this year are: • A roof over your head? Ensuring the delivery of quality, affordable homes in the East • Social housing regulation – a brave new world? • Getting on – supporting an ageing population • A ‘site’ to behold? Meeting the housing needs of Gypsies and Travellers • Turning Green – addressing our environmental challenges You can download a copy from Eastern Promises (pdf. file)

We hope you will get involved in the various events and activities we are planning around these highly relevant subject areas – so watch this space! Our promise • We will promote the key issues in a clear, straightforward way to increase understanding and encourage debate • We will encourage housing professionals in our region and their organisations to get involved in helping to address some of the key issues for us, here in the East • We will share good practice from around our region and beyond • We will make sure that our events and publications focus on these key policy areas and provide resources to our members to help them really get a grip with the issues at hand.

My day at the annual CIH Eastern Region Conference Wednesday 10 November 2010 Article by Thora Saunders, Tenant Representative, South Cambridgeshire District Council

As we approached Stansted the sun pierced the early morning gloom to set a seal upon the whole day. Once inside the reception hall the magic of a great airport and an elegant hotel wraps us in a cloak of eager anticipation making the formalities of registration, choosing which two master classes to attend and trying to absorb the bewildering number of exhibition stands, contribute to a feeling that the theme for this year’s conference of ‘The Sky’s the Limit – Striving for Excellence’ was most apt. The opening welcome by Colin Wiles, chair of the CIH Eastern Region, drew attention to the day’s format and emphasised that the master classes had been increased in number to widen choice, eased us gently into the real purpose of the conference. The two master classes I attended Value for Money and Efficiency Gains – Dr Louise Dunne, Senior Advisor, CIPFA - This was the first of my chosen master classes and Dr Dunne explained in simple, everyday

terms what the phrase “value for money” meant and how to achieve it. The effective use of VFM could also help to improve outcomes for tenants. A most inspiring class carried out by a superb tutor. The second of my master classes was Youth involvement focusing on the development of an Interactive computer game – 3 young mothers from South Essex Homes have developed an interactive computer game called ‘Think’ with the aim of dealing with anti-social behaviour and

furthering young people’s involvement in Southend. It covers children aged 7-14 years and a local school in Southend is now using it in their curriculum. Very interesting class and just shows you what tenants can do when getting involved in their local area. The keynote headline speaker closing on day two was Alastair Campbell, broadcaster and political aide. His performance at the conference was a tribute to his sheer professionalism – here was an intelligent, educated journalist, he made the whole episode seem easy – always a sign of the expert. His address and question time was carried out in the same relaxed atmosphere – all in all a most polished performance from a true professional. I enjoyed my day at the conference, thank you to all who organised it and I feel very privileged to have been given the opportunity to attend.

11


easternoutlook

SPRING 2011

Events list Excellence Factor Event

5 April , Manchester

This is the ‘alternative’ customer service excellence event – This year features our best line up of speakers yet!

13 April, London For details click here

The Equality Act 2010 and The Public Sector (Single) Equality Duty In Practice

12 April, London

The event will help delegates understand their obligations under the Act

For details click here

Repairs and Maintenance Conference and Exhibition 2011

12-13 April, Birmingham

This is the ‘alternative’ customer service excellence event – This year features our best line up of speakers yet!

For details click here

Choice Based Lettings Event

4 May, Cambridge

Bringing together practitioners from around the region to discuss CBL

Details to be posted here soon

Annual Regional Policy Conference

15 June, Cambridge

Bringing you the latest on Policy developments nationally

Details to be posted here soon

CIH in the Eastern Region Conference

Radisson Blu Hotel, Stansted, Essex

8,9 & 10th November 2011

20 April, Manchester

More about these events soon Lunch & Learn Sessions May 2011

Chief Officers Event September 2011

Details for all these events can be obtained from Regional Support: jayne.anderson@cih.org Or by calling Jayne Anderson on: 02476 851786

Tenant and Equality & Diversity Seminar October 2011

Committee Meetings Weds 15th June 4.00 – 6.00 pm

Tues 6th September 3.30 – 7.00 pm

Trinity Centre, Cambridge Cross Keys Homes, Peterborough

Get in touch: For regional events email Jayne Anderson – jayne.anderson@cih.org or call her on 02476 851786. To email ideas for articles or to contact the editorial team – easternoutlook@live.co.uk To contact your regional committee email the Chair, Colin Wiles – colin@wilesconsulting.co.uk

The newsletter for the Chartered Institute of Housing Eastern Region - Spring 2011  

The newsletter for the Chartered Institute of Housing Eastern Region (CIH) - Spring 2011