easternoutlook The newsletter for the Chartered Institute of Housing Eastern Region » Summer 2011
Wimbish Passive House Homes By Jack Burnham, CIH East Committee Member
Hastoe Housing Association, in partnership with Uttlesford District Council and the Homes and Communities Agency, has developed the UK’s first rural Passivhaus scheme. Located in Wimbish, almost in the centre of the CIH East Region, this development of 14 affordable homes is built to specific efficiency levels. Passivhaus was a concept born in the 1980s to Bo Adamson and Wolfgang Feist, professors from Sweden and Germany. The concept develops housing that provides an adequate ambient temperature all year round. Since its inception, over 17,000 Passivhaus schemes have been developed all over the world. In order to be certified as Passivhaus, properties must have: • Very good levels of insulation with minimal thermal bridges. • Well thought out utilisation of solar and internal gains. • Excellent level of air tightness. • Good indoor air quality, provided by a whole house mechanical ventilation system with highly efficient heat recovery. The occupants of these homes can look forward to potentially enjoying greatly reduced energy costs. The scheme was designed by Parsons & Whitley and Inbuilt, with Bramall undertaking the construction. With rents likely to rise subject to the approval of the Localism Bill and the HCA’s Affordable Homes Programme 2011-15, Passivhaus has the potential to be used to ensure that residents’ total outgoings are still kept at reasonable levels. For further information, see http://www.wimbishpassivhaus.com
“These homes will meet a great housing need in the region. Uttlesford District Council is proud to host such high quality affordable housing.” Jack Burnham, Principal Development & Enabling Officer, Uttlesford District Council “I am really proud to be involved and working with rural communities, making the link between sustainability for people and sustainability for the environment. That includes getting together with our consultants and helping paint the village hall, which sits right across the road from the new homes!” Ulrike Maccariello, Hastoe Development Manager
Edited by Phil Lyons, Communications Officer, Eastern Region Committee
Contents 2 Peterborough’s biggest shows how it’s done 4 The future of allocations - where do we go from here? 6 Norwich City Council Tenants’ Annual Report 8 People power in Norfolk 10 Big Society... Big Change or rebranding what we do? 12 OneCIH 2011 14 Housing Benefit and Welfare reforms 12 Events
Peterborough’s biggest shows how it’s done In this edition Peterborough’s largest housing association Cross Keys Homes shares its recent award and accreditation success stories in a bid to promote the benefits of community projects and environmental social responsibility. Working 4U programme helps unemployed “The support I was given by Cross Keys Homes gave me a chance in life when I felt alone after being made redundant.” These are the words of Derek Smith (52), who was made redundant after working for the same company for 30 years. However, after enrolling on Cross Keys Homes’ Working 4 U programme he gained fulltime employment. He is one of 256 residents who have been supported since the programme started last January. Cross Keys Homes works in partnership with organisations including; Jobcentre Plus, Next Step, Peterborough City Council, Peterborough Council for Voluntary Service and local colleges to deliver tailored support for those who are unemployed or at threat of redundancy. Chief executive, Mick Leggett, said: “As an organisation we have set ourselves a big challenge to reduce deprivation within our neighbourhoods, some of which are in the top 5% most deprived in the UK. As a top priority we have committed £5 million over five years to achieve what some may
consider is an ideal but for us is what we are all about.” Up until March 31 the programme was jointly funded by the East of England Development Agency and Cross Keys Homes. However, due to EEDA’s funding ending Cross Keys Homes now solely funds Working 4U. The project focuses on improving employability through skills and confidence building among mainly long-term unemployed residents living in some of the city’s most deprived communities. These areas are; Westwood and Ravensthorpe, Dogsthorpe and Welland, the Ortons, Eastfield and Eastgate. These residents are typically affected by low income, poor education and health which is why the project is open to all as part of our role in supporting the Big Society. Participants receive one-to-one tailored support as well as the opportunity to attend work clubs and meet others in similar situations under one roof. Through the partnership approach Next Step advisers are able to match residents’ skills with jobs that are available in the area while Job Centre Plus representatives run CV writing and interview workshops. Peterborough Council for Voluntary Service show
candidates how to gain work experience through volunteering. To date 256 residents have been supported through the programme and 193 have received a personalised employment support session. The impact is evidenced through 78% of people now feeling positive about finding a job and 72% have grown in their confidence in finding a job. In addition 604 residents have received help through community events, 82 have attended courses to increase their skills and 26 were supported into voluntary roles. The project has mainly engaged with the long-term unemployed with more than 10 per cent of participants gaining employment to date and this figure continues to grow. Environmental accreditation is at Cross Keys’ green fingertips ISO 14001 is an International Standard that specifies the requirements for an environmental management system. Cross Keys Homes has just achieved this accreditation alongside a ‘green’ award (the top level) for Investors in the Environment. Director of operations, Claire Higgins, said: “This award is great news for Cross Keys Homes and endorses our Green manifesto work which is all for the ultimate benefit of our residents and employees.” For further information on these accreditations contact Kelly Field at Cross Keys Homes – communications@ crosskeyshomes.co.uk
Let Cross Keys Show YOU How
Resident receiving advice from a Next Step advisor event Cross Keys launch
Cross Keys Homes runs a number of best practice workshops covering successful communications and media management. The next workshop on Brand ShowHow takes place on July 7, to find out more email: communications@ crosskeyshomes.co.uk
Lunch and Learn? A short course... By John Wheeldon, Lunch and Learn Officer, CIH Eastern Committee
Lunch and learn - the name says it all. These are our free lunchtime sessions held three times a year with each one taking place in three or four different locations. The popular format is a speaker on a topic of practical interest to members followed by questions/discussion and a sandwich lunch. All change! A busy year in housing law Our May free lunchtime sessions focused on the many changes and challenge facing us all in housing law. Gail Sykes of Buckles Solicitors gave us her usual fascinating presentation on all the latest legal news. 2011 is going to be a major watershed with significant changes brought about by: • The Equality Act 2010 • The Localism Bill and especially the impact of tenancy strategies, affordable rents and flexible tenancies • Proposed changes to ASB, recently out to consultation Gail outlined the changes in the Equality Act coming into effect this year and reassured us that most of it is not new but pulls all aspects of equality legislation in to one place. She
highlighted the changes that we need to be aware of and reaffirmed that having clear policies and procedures which are always followed is key to avoiding problems. Gail went on to explain what was necessary in terms of reasonable adjustments in relation to both lets and premises about to be let to people with disabilities and warned us of the requirement to make reasonable adjustments to common parts (coming into force soon), which is a major new requirement. On the Localism Bill there are more questions than answers and we all struggled with what happens when a secure tenant exchanges with an “affordable” rent tenant – does the different type of tenancy go with the tenant to the new home? This may well require new tenancies to be issued rather than the assignments we are used to. We also discussed
the interesting scenario where a local authority has a clear tenancy strategy and a housing association has a conflicting one. It appears the housing association has to take note of the strategy but is not required to follow it – although this may have an effect on possible future funding. The consultation to proposed changes on ASB closed on 17 May. There are proposals to make significant changes and reductions in the ASB toolkit. In particular the proposal to change injunctions to “crime prevention injunctions” with a higher threshold is a matter of concern as it is proposed that these are heard in Magistrates Courts rather than the County Court as at present. Once the consultation results are known we’ll try to bring you an update. Gail finished off with an excellent roundup of all the latest housing cases. This year we have also held successful sessions on financial inclusion prior to the always popular legal updates. We are planning a further series in the autumn and I am always interested to hear about topics members would like covered, particularly if they know of a good speaker. You can contact me by clicking here.
The Future of Allocations Where do we go from here? including their access strategy, and the way in which individual partners review non-bidders to target people in need of more support. Andy generously offered Housing reform, new tenures, sub-market rents, welfare reform... to share key documentation, including so many changes are going to impact on how our customers the Access Strategy and initial tenancy access housing in future. All were considered at the CIH / NHF strategies, with delegates. joint Eastern Region Event on May 4th, with over ninety delegates So many questions raised in the from across the region and beyond. morning, after lunch, delegates used “speed networking” to contribute their answers through five workshops. and offered some wacky alternatives, Frances Walker, DCLG’s resident Contributions will be shared, and used including housing people according to allocations expert, set the scene with by NHF and CIH in progressing the their lifestyle. the government’s agenda, explaining issues. Suzanne McBride had conducted a how disappointing it was that local Concluding the day, Andy Tate for survey of CBL in the Eastern Region on authorities did not use the full range the NHF took a provider perspective, behalf of CIH ahead of the event. In of powers offered in the “Fair and delving into the detail of how providers sharing the findings, she pointed out Flexible” guidance issued by the last will be challenged by 80% rents, the wide differences between schemes government, and hence how we need tensions between supporting existing which serve only one local authority, to be pushed towards more localism! tenants and meeting But hang on – some of us wider needs; between considered them carefully, Need placing homeless people and decided that simple, Experiments have shown there is “no in the private sector, and clear allocation policies are providing accommodation better than lots of local magic bullet” – what works in one area, that meets new benefit lettings criteria – surely local does not work in another, where sociorule; between supporting flexibilities are there for us to under-occupiers to move, choose between, and not an economic conditions are different. and managing stock to obligation? meet other needs. Andy Picking up the agenda, predicted a need for more Professor Tim Brown shared cross-boundary moves to make best use and sub-regional schemes covering lessons from the Netherlands, where ofSustainable stock – but not if local authorities set eight or more, and shared insights into experimentation in social housing rigid, local tenancy strategies. the scope for more efficiencies, as well is encouraged, and supported with Choice Neighbourhoods So, will we seek localism winning the as the importance of managing your innovation and research funding. day, tearing apart good, sub-regional system and knowing what it delivers Experiments have shown there is CBL schemes? Will local authorities and (as well as what you wanted it to). “no magic bullet” – what works in providers work proactively together to Concluding the morning’s session, one area, does not work in another, ensure local markets are considered? Andy Glaves from Home-Link, the where socio-economic conditions Will the drive for efficiency support Cambridge sub-region CBL scheme, are different. Tim questioned why the development of larger, leaner, CBL shared some of their good practice everyone here has adopted the “Delft schemes? It’s up to you to decide. in working with vulnerable people, Model” – which he brought to us! –
By Suzanne McBride, Membership Officer, CIH Eastern Region
Source: 3 Dr Tim Brown, Centre for Comparative Housing Research
The non-bidding figure across bands all hasbands continued reduce consistently Thesub-regional sub-regional non-bidding figureallacross hastocontinued to reduce consistently since Home-Link since Home-Link went live in February 2008. went live in February 2008.
AUGUST 2009 AUGUST 2010 AUGUST 2011
Source: 3 Dr Tim Brown, Centre for Comparative Housing Research
Source: 3 Dr Tim Brown, Centre for Comparative Housing Research
Source: 4 Andy Glaves, Home-Link Sub-Regional Source: 4 Dr Andy Glaves, Home-Link Sub-Regional Manager Manager
Have you considered expanding your scheme or scheme merging with ave you considered expanding your or merging with others others to achieve aCommunity Have you considered expanding your scheme or merging with others to achieve a arger scheme area? toarea? achieve a larger scheme area? arger scheme Ownership
gathers more supporters
ve you considered expanding your scheme or merging with others to achieve a Actively considering ger scheme area? Actively considering Do not want to merge Do not want to merge Not considered Not considered Don't know Don't know
Actively considering Do not want to merge Not considered
urce: 1 SuzanneSource: McBride, Heron Consulting Ltd. 1 Suzanne McBride, Heron Consulting Ltd urce: 1 Suzanne McBride, Heron Consulting Ltd.
Fairness of the way social housing is allocated
e: 1 Suzanne McBride, Heron Consulting Ltd.
To what extent do you agree with the following statement? The way social housing is allocated to people is generally fair.
23% Agree 32% Disagree Ease: 3,344 (respondents are general public questioned in-home in England in the periods July 24-31 and August 14-21 2008) Source: Ipsos MORI
By Phil Lyons, Communication Officer, CIH Eastern Region
Arms Length Management Organisations (ALMOs) have always had a strong resident involvement but a recent report (A future for ALMOs – within local communities) from the National Federation of ALMOs is advocating even closer ties between the ALMO and the community it serves. Council-Owned, CommunityOwned is the name of the game with the tenants of the Council’s stock taking a stake in the organisation that manages it. Sounds far-fetched? Well, not according to ResPublica, a rightwing think tank that launched its own report (“At the Crossroads: a progressive future for housing associations”) suggesting that Housing Associations need to become closer to their communities too. The report highlights the challenge of localism and calls on HAs to rationalise more stock to enable better engagement between housing associations and communities; greater devolution of responsibility for managing stock to a local level and a new focus on tenant management. Finally, and perhaps most controversially the report highlights a pressing need for housing associations to develop new forms of accountability, starting with a radical reassessment of housing association governance models. As these ideas gather pace Eastern Outlook will bring the latest news and views from the world of housing.
Source: 2 Frances Walker, Housing Management and Performance DCLG
ource: 2 Frances Walker, Housing Management and Performance DCLG ource: 2 Frances Walker, Housing Management and Performance DCLG
Norwich City Council By Sandra Franklin, CIH Eastern Committee member
Norwich City Council, along with many local authorities, faced the challenge of producing its first annual report to tenants in 2010 in line with the new Tenant Services Authority regulatory requirements. Faced with toolkits, best practice examples and a ticking deadline this seemed, at first, a daunting task and just knowing where to start was the first hurdle. The TSA did not want to be overly prescriptive in its guidance, but there was a clear focus on ‘used and useful’. Embracing this ethos made the process much more straight forward. Our main tenant group, Norwich City Council Tenants’ CityWide Board (CWB) formed a performance sub group several years ago with the role of scrutinising our performance as a landlord. The group has worked hard with officers to produce a regular performance scorecard highlighting both strong and weak performance areas as well as helping to produce a performance measurement framework which is based on the top ten areas tenants told us mattered to them the most. The group meets once a month to agree, monitor and challenge Norwich City Council’s performance against these targets. All of this information provided a great foundation for the annual report. We also wanted to make sure that we heard the views of our less involved tenants. As part of our tenant involvement framework, Norwich City Council has a panel called ‘Talkback’, which is run on our behalf by an independent market research company. The panel is made up of 1,000 tenants and 200 leaseholders and provides the opportunity to gain invaluable insight from residents we might not otherwise hear from. The panel is also balanced to achieve a mix of gender, age, working status, disability and geography. Two annual report focus group sessions were organised and the groups were given various examples of reports produced by other organisations. The attendees were then asked to comment on the design and content of these examples as well as being encouraged to use their imagination as to what they would like to see in their own report.
The Talkback groups certainly didn’t hold back and provided us with lots of information about what they did and didn’t like. In terms of design, the following points were decided as being the most important. • No lengthy introduction – many readers might not get any further than the first few pages. • Produce an accompanying summary report with the full one available for those who want more detail. • Both reports should be available online. • Writing in plain English. • Including colour coded headings. • Feature ‘bubbles’ of key information. • Using before and after photographs, where applicable. • Using symbols and illustrations to emphasise subject matter. • No council propaganda. The discussions around content and detail met with pretty much unanimous agreement as to what should be included under the five headings of TSA standards applicable to councils, and these were no great surprise. These were: • repairs and maintenance, upgrades, improvements and adaptations • fly tipping, environmental projects, Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB), hate crime, family intervention unit • rent collection, savings and spending • tenant involvement groups, customer and support services • waiting lists, empty homes, new tenants, pre-tenancy awareness. Tenants also told us they were keen to know what we had planned for the year ahead including progress on dealing with ASB, value for money, disabled adaptations, tenant involvement, local offers and allocations to name but a few. We made sure that all of the content and design ideas were agreed with CWB and our Sheltered Housing
Tenants’ Forum as we went along so that the report best represented the views of as many tenants as possible. Armed with all of this information, it was time to get stuck into actually creating the report. A project officer, our communications team and the tenant involvement team worked feverishly to pull together all the data we needed, track down relevant photographs, draft the design and write up the main content. It was a tremendous team effort without which the report simply would not have happened. Finally we had our finished draft. The last step of the process was to submit it to our tenants’ publications sub group to make sure we had captured all of their feedback and ideas. The group were really happy with the end result and awarded the main report and summary report the tenant approved logo. “Members of the Citywide board publications sub-group were asked to help create the Council’s tenants’ annual report instead of just commenting on documents submitted for our approval in order to obtain a ‘Tenants Tick’.
This really was a tremendous opportunity for us to have our say in the written content of the report and the photos used so that we could present the Council’s achievements from a tenant’s point of view. We are proud of what has been achieved by the Council working with its tenants but felt not everybody would read a full report so we also produced a summary report. It was a lot of work for a few of us and a small number of officers but we have received so many compliments that we have already started work on next year’s report! We have set ourselves quite a high target to improve on the last edition of the annual report and to continue working with the Council to improve the services to the tenants. Norwich City Council 2009/10 Annual Report to Tenants
Tenants’ annual report “Some months after publication we were thrilled to hear that our report had been selected as an example of good practice by a coalition of national tenant organisations. The Tenant Excellence Fund facilitated and funded the coalition to develop a report to provide a tenant perspective on the effectiveness of the first annual reports. The report identifies excellence, as well as specific areas that need to improve, to encourage continuous improvement in the production of annual reports across the sector. Our report was highlighted as being attractive, well laid out, making it easy to understand the information provided and presented in a tenant friendly fashion. We also received praise for producing a summary to complement the main report. This was a fantastic reward for our tenants and real recognition of all the work which went into producing it. We are now recruiting an even larger group of tenants to work on the annual report for 2010 – 2011; I can’t wait to see what the end result will be!” Geoff Lowe, Chairman, Norwich Tenants’ CityWide Board
Meeting the challenge Eastern Region Policy Event 2011 - 15 June, Cambridge Following on from the success of the last two years the Eastern Region Committee is pleased to bring you its 2011 policy event. ‘The Big Society, meeting the challenge’ will provide you with an up to date insight into how the government’s housing and welfare reform programme will impact on your organisation and its customers and what you can do to meet the challenges ahead. Speakers include Alistair McIntosh, Chief Executive of the Housing Quality Network, Abi Davies,
CIH Assistant Director of Policy and Practice, Neil Talbot, Regulation Policy Manager, TSA and landlords and residents of Welwyn Hatfield who have just embarked on one of the country’s first resident-led scrutiny projects. The event will be held at the Trinity Centre, Cambridge from 10am-3pm and includes a networking lunch. The event will be followed by a Regional Committee Meeting which is open to all. Once again brought to housing professionals free of charge, places are going fast. For more information and to book contact Jayne Anderson by emailing her at Jayne.Anderson@cih.org
People power in N Norfolk’s first county-wide alliance has been formed between social landlords and residents. Social housing residents from across Norfolk have joined forces with their landlords to form Norfolk’s first county-wide residents’ alliance. The alliance was launched at a conference organised by the Norfolk Housing Alliance*. at Terrington St Clement in King’s Lynn last year. The TSA National trailblazer was a commitment made by local residents and their landlords and outlined what each would do to create a greener, safer and cleaner environment. Judy talked to residents about how the overall satisfaction of residents increased from 87 per cent to 96 per cent with a positive trend of performance over the first nine months of the pilot.
Social housing landlords joined together to invite all of their residents to get involved and scrutinise their services by forming a residents’ alliance. At this first ever conference residents took part in lots of sessions, where they shared ideas on how to get personally involved in the community. They also discussed how their landlords can work together to provide a better service and agreed that they would like to be more involved in decision making and local activities. The members of the network will now meet regularly to share ideas and thoughts on how they can make their communities better places to live. They will also be launching a new website which will allow residents to compare the different services or performance, repairs and Anti-Social Behaviour data. Landlords will be sharing their latest news and residents will have the opportunity to post messages to make sure their voices are heard.
One of the inspirational highlights was a presentation by resident Judy Roberts on the successful charter launched
Managing director for Wherry Housing Association, Mark Jones, spoke at the conference. He said: “What a milestone event! It is fantastic to see so many talented residents from across Norfolk work together and being so enthusiastic. This event is a perfect example for successful partnership work. In times like these it’s important that we work together as well as learn from each other. It’s vital for all of us to understand what is important to our residents, giving every single one of them the opportunity to have a say in our services.”
Norfolk “It was a really good conference and I heard a lot of good ideas from other residents from different landlords. It was great to meet others who are involved in scrutiny and monitoring and talk about how we can work together, become stronger and have a single voice for residents in Norfolk. There lots of positive things for us to take away and put into action from the day.” Wherry resident, Rob Duhig
“Very interesting and exciting thinking that the residents in Norfolk can join together their landlords and improve lives and circumstances.” Flagship resident, Jo Makepeace
*The Norfolk Housing Alliance was formed in 2008 as a collective of social housing landlords with a significant presence in Norfolk. Through our strong partnership working, we are able to share best practice and have a strong record of improving services by taking collective action. Members include Wherry Housing Association, Freebridge Community Housing, Broadland Housing Association, Cotman Housing Association, Orbit East, Saffron Housing, Flagship Peddars Way, Guinness Trust and Victory Housing, Norwich City Council, Great Yarmouth District Council and Minster Housing Association.
Conference planning By Tracey Cassidy, Conference Lead, CIH Eastern Region
Have you ever wondered what goes into organising the annual conference held in the region in November? Well here are a few things the team does... ‘I have been leading on the conference for the last 3 years and follow a similar pattern each year. In December the new regional committee, elected at the AGM held on the first day of the conference meets for the first time and during that meeting myself and Denise Osborne, Head of Events for CIH provide feedback on the November conference. Members of the regional committee are encouraged to sit on project groups within the region – policy; conference; communications etc. In early January, Denise and I will meet with the hotel to discuss feedback from the previous year’s conference, iron out any issues that we were alerted to during the conference, for example parking on day 1 and how these can be resolved – so that for the next year it is not an issue (there will be clearer signage and an obvious person directing the cars). Other topics may include the layout of the exhibition; seating within the conference main room and gala dinner (for 2011 dinner will be held in the wine tower area!) From February onwards the conference planning group meets monthly. The first meeting is very much about setting the scene and brainstorming ideas/thoughts/ suggestions for speakers both for the keynote and master class sessions. Our aim is to produce a promotional flyer for the Harrogate conference in June – early promotion is very important. Meetings continue on a monthly basis and decisions are made around delegate charges for the conference, exhibitor and sponsor costs, structure of the programme, contacting speakers, obtaining prices, talking to other colleagues about topical issues and what will be topical in November – not all sessions thought about in February/March end up being
exactly the same in November. We also discuss food menus, designing the front page of the programme, evening entertainment at the gala dinner and the evening of day 2, even down to the colour of your conference bag. All speakers receive briefs on what they are being asked to talk about at the conference (not all keep to them), these are written by the team during September, increasing the number of master classes on each day has increased the work load but the feedback was encouraging on having more choice of sessions – we intend to keep this for 2011. Chairs for each sessions are identified, often using committee members or members of the conference planning group to fulfil those roles – this was something introduced a few years ago and works so well, we continue to do it. Denise and her team from CIH handle the administration of the conference, seeking the sponsorship and exhibitors, contacting speakers, collating the flyer and handbook, which is paid for from the conference budget. I and the remaining members of the conference team – Suzanne McBride, Carole Herries, Trish Reed and Mick Leggett are all willing volunteers who work hard throughout the year to ensure that we are providing you with the best conference in the region that you will want to attend! Keep these dates in your diary 8th, 9th and 10th November, 2011 Radisson Blu hotel, Stansted Airport and look out for more articles in future newsletters or if you are at the Harrogate conference pick up our flyer.
Big Society... Big Cha what we do? The fut By Suzanne McBride, Heron Consulting Ltd
All of us have heard of the Big Society, but for many housing professionals – and communities – its still a difficult concept to get hold of. Does it mean unpaid volunteers carrying out work that needs to be done by professionals? Surely not – but it can mean a renewed role for our housing and community development staff in encouraging volunteers and activists in communities to look at new ways to meet needs and aspirations of the people living in our housing. One way to deliver services in the “Big Society” is through social enterprises. A social enterprise or SE is a business that exists to meet a social or environmental need, and that guarantees that any surpluses (or profits) are reinvested in the company to deliver benefits to the community and are not taken out of the local area, and paid to shareholders. Is SE new? No, not really. Many housing associations would argue that this is what they do already, especially those who are registered as charities. But what is new is the strength of government support: there has been start-up funding for social enterprises through the Department of Health and the Cabinet Office; the new Localism Bill will enable Councils to favour SE in procurement and a new company structure has been created which allows the creation of SEs regulated by a Social Enterprise Commissioner. Called “Community Interest Companies” these new bodies will have to keep to their social purpose and agree to an “asset lock” – a guaranteed transfer of their assets to a named charity if they cease trading. What does it mean for us in housing? For some housing organisations it is a chance to remind customers of the social purpose inherent in what we do already; some may choose to set up SE subsidiaries for particular activities, or to support residents to do so. For local authorities, it really is a chance to think about procuring services from social enterprises, and even about helping to set up new enterprises to deliver services such as 10
floating support or even gardening. I helped two local authorities to work together to create a new SE to provide a Home Improvement Agency Service – local, flexible, with customer involvement, and access to charitable funds when its customers need them. There are voices of dissent opposing this as privatisation and suggesting lack of jobs – certainly, we must guard against running down our public sector but some services really benefit from the flexibility and access to other funding streams that SE can offer; For our tenants and customers – this could be a chance to set up small businesses that can access support and funding to improve the locality, or deliver vital local services such as childcare. Interested in social enterprise? You can find out more from the social enterprise coalition http://www. socialenterprise.org.uk Are you developing social enterprises in your locality? Please send your stories, examples and ideas to email@example.com so we can develop more Big Society ideas in future editions.
ange or rebranding ture of Social Enterprise
OneCIH 2011 By Gill Cook, Vice Chair, Eastern Region Committee, with contributions from other Eastern committee delegates, Colin Wiles, Simone Russell and Peter Coleing.
OneCIH is the annual conference for officers from each of the National Business Units and Regional Committees to come together and shape the future of CIH and share good practice. On the 14 April, five delegates from the east made their way to Birmingham to this useful event. After opening welcomes and updates, the first session that required our contribution was entitled “What the deficit means for us”. On our tables, which were made up of a mixture of people from different regions, we discussed matters such as: • What should CIH be doing to support people in the current economic climate? • What should CIH stop doing? • How could CIH reduce costs further? • How could CIH attract more income? Popular suggestions (in no particular order) included: • Emphasise better the benefits of being a member • Better use of technology • More collaboration with other organisations/sectors • Reviewing services. Although many decisions regarding the Governance review have now been agreed, final voting will take place at the AGM in June. A discussion was held in the afternoon to share
our ideas about the issues still to be decided. At the same time, those who were involved or interested in policy, another session took place to look at the range of major housing and welfare reforms in the pipeline. Set against a back-drop of a massive national deficit which the government aims to offset through a £128 bn deficit reduction programme between now and 2016 and the lowest level of housebuilding since 1923, the government is introducing a drastic and far-reaching reform programme which will directly affect housing providers, tenants and housing applicants alike. The sector faces huge challenges around funding and income, working with new decision-makers and taking on more local responsibility. In order to meet these challenges we will need to change our approach to housing management, house building and find new solutions to tackle homelessness, whilst getting our heads around regulatory changes which will truly place residents at the heart of performance monitoring.
The final session of the day was to feed in our ideas around the next Corporate Plan. The only thing left to do that day was to enjoy a meal with CIH colleagues, another good opportunity to learn more about how the different regions operate. The following morning included what many think is the best session of the whole conference – a chance for each region to share what it’s been doing over the past year in a 5 minute presentation. The English regions and National Business Units have quite a bit of independence in terms of what they can offer their members and it’s good to be able to pick up on things other regions are doing. It was reassuring for us to hear that members in this region seem to be getting as good a service if any, if not better, with the number and variety of events on offer.
Delegates from the Easter n region listen
ves his Colin Wiles gi 12
r region ppening in ou ha en be s t’ about wha presentation
summer 2011 The next part of the morning was split into seven different workshops and delegates attended the one most relevant to their committee role. The ones attended by eastern delegates are covered briefly here:
Marketing and Communications: We were told about how CIH now attracts far more media coverage than ever before and newspapers, etc were now approaching them for views rather than CIH having to fight hard to be included. This is having a very positive effect on how CIH is able to influence government. It was felt by those attending this workshop that CIH should get more coverage in Inside Housing but Josie Twinning, Head of Marketing & Communications, reminded us that CIH had no editorial control over what went into Inside Housing as it was produced by Ocean Media Group. Because the magazine is given to CIH members, many of them assume that it is CIH’s own publication which it isn’t. Josie also invited us, and any other CIH member, to send her a blog if they felt it would be of interest to other members. This could be done through the “talking heads talking housing” section on the left hand side of the website’s home page. We also gave our feedback about the e-zine received by members and the various online surveys we are asked to complete. These will soon be changing...
Learning & Development: It was noted that the number of housing courses nationally is growing ever smaller although Anglia Ruskin is starting to run a new course in housing management this year. There was some discussion about what is needed to get more students enrolling in housing courses. There is a need to better promote housing as a career for university students but when and how should young people get this information? The group also talked about training for resident scrutiny groups and tenant panels when they come into being. Maybe this will be an area of work for CIH, maybe in partnership with others?
Policy & Practice Update: Delegates heard about the work CIH is doing to influence government and how the regions and National Business Units can help. In England the areas where influence is most needed include welfare reform, the Localism Bill, local elections, affordable rents, wider youth issues and new housing supply. Regions are being encouraged to work with their MPs, support subnational media work, highlight regional differences and engage with their local (council) housing portfolio holders.
Chairs and CEO meeting: The meeting of regional chairs with Sarah Webb also concentrated on education issues. With the recent decision of the University of Birmingham to close its housing courses the sector faces a dilemma. Fees of up to £9,000 a year may deter students and employers from entering housing courses. One option is for
the CIH to set up its own “housing university” to provide education resources to the sector. The final session of the conference told us about CIH’s new website that was on its way. The first thing to be pointed out was that there would be a new Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, allowing emails to be better targeted to avoid people receiving mail about things they’re not interested in. The BBC News website was considered to be excellent and this is currently being used as a “model”. Some of the differences people will notice are: • The AGM will be online so you can vote “live” no matter where you are • Buying things online will be easier • The search facility will be more meaningful • Videos of speakers and events will be available • Navigation around the website will be simpler. Focus groups and further surveys will be arranged to gather more users’ views about what they want. Each table then discussed how the website could support the work of the National Business Units and regional committees and how we could promote the site and encourage users to get involved. Despite there being a couple of suggestions that CIH should stop having an event that around 80 delegates from around the UK have to travel for miles to get to, for me, it remains one of the most useful of all CIH events.
e sessions ads one of th le d an el Ir n IH Norther Director of C Grainia Long, 13
Housing Benefi and Welfare re By Colin Wiles, Chair, CIH Eastern Committee
The Welfare Reform Bill of 2011 was introduced in February. It represents the most dramatic re-shaping of the welfare state for over sixty years and could have a dramatic impact upon landlords and tenants in both the social and private rented sectors. Effectively, the government will be uniting the tax and benefits system with the aim of incentivising people to get off benefits and into work. A system of universal credit will replace many current benefits - Income Support, income based Job Seekers Allowance, income based Employment and Support Allowance, Housing Benefit, Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit. The idea is that people will have a weekly payment that they will be required to manage themselves, just as anyone in work manages their own finances. One of the governmentâ€™s key aims is to remove the benefits trap that
sees marginal tax rates of 95% - i.e. for every pound earned claimants lose 95 pence in benefits. The government wants to create a culture where it will always pay to work. At a recent CIH event Professor Steve Wilcox commented that the government would need to introduce a phenomenally impressive IT system to unite the tax and benefits system. One of the impacts of these changes is that many people will be forced to move to lower value or smaller properties. There seems to be a conflict here with the notion
of creating mixed and balanced communities. Landlords could also be adversely affected if bad debts increase as a result of these changes. The CIH has been heavily involved in the debate. The proposal to cut 10% from housing benefits for claimants who spend more than a year on JSA has been dropped following successful lobbying from the CIH and others. We will keep you informed of updates as the Bill passes through Parliament.
fit eforms Some of the other key changes include: • A limit on the total of out of work benefits paid to a household - £500 per week or £26,000 per year (to take effect in 2013). • Local housing allowances for those in the private rented sector will be set at the 30th percentile, rather than the current 50th percentile. The expectation is that people who receive support with their rent will be restricted to the lower end of the rental market. • Local housing allowances will also be capped at £250 per week for a onebed property, £290 for a two-bed, £340 for a threebed and £400 for four-bed and larger. This will force people to move out of more expensive areas to cheaper areas. • Lone parents with children aged over five will be required to seek work and will lose benefits if they fail to do so.
Safety boost for mobility scooter users Rochford Housing Association is backing a campaign to improve the safety of people using mobility scooters on Essex roads by donating £1,500 for better training. According to Disability Essex, an estimated four fatalities involving mobility scooters occur every year in the county. The group is campaigning for a review of the laws and regulations concerning the use of Class 2 and Class 3 scooters. Members of Rochford’s Residents Forum donated the cash to deliver free training for 60 mobility scooter users within Essex. Richard Boyd, chief executive of Disability Essex, said: “We are grateful to the Residents Forum of Rochford who has donated £1,500 enabling us to provide this most needed service.” Emma Keegan, managing director of Rochford Housing Association, added: “I’m delighted that our financial support can make a real difference and prevent people from coming to harm. We have many residents who use mobility scooters and I’m sure they would support Disability Essex’s safety training campaign. We would encourage anyone who uses a mobility scooter in the region to contact Disability Essex and take advantage of this valuable course. Who knows, it could save their life.”
Events list Driving High Performance in Difficult Times Achieving Efficiency and Value for Money
1 June 2011 CIH London Office For details click here
Young People Accommodation & Support ‘It’s not just about putting a roof over their heads: it is about changing young people’s lives.’
Tenant Scrutiny Co-Regulation in Practice
9 June 2011 – London 16 June 2011 – Manchester For details click here 14 June 2011 London 19 July 2011 Manchester For details click here
Annual Regional Policy Conference Bringing you the latest on Policy developments nationally
29 June 2011 CIH London Office For details click here
Introduction to Leasehold Management Part 1 of 2 events aimed at Leasehold Managers
29 June 2011 CIH London Office For details click here
Upcoming Events Chief Officers Event September 2011
Tenant and Equality & Diversity Seminar October 2011
CIH in the Eastern Region Conference 8,9 & 10th November 2011
Details for all these events can be obtained from Regional Support: firstname.lastname@example.org Or by calling Jayne Anderson on: 02476 851786 Radisson Blu Hotel, Stansted, Essex
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 – email@example.com or call her on 02476 851786. To email ideas for articles or to contact the editorial team – firstname.lastname@example.org To contact your regional committee email the Chair, Colin Wiles – email@example.com