25th November 2019
Next government ‘should build three million new social homes’ Election 2019: sector bodies and housing charities unveil pleas to incoming government The National Housing Federation has launched a campaign called Let’s Fix the Housing Crisis for Good, which is calling on the next government to commit to five priorities. These are: building 145,000 social rented homes a year; setting up a building safety fund to cover the cost of making homes safe; establishing a ‘Great Places Fund’ to drive growth in left-behind places; delivering a new deal for social housing by responding to the long-delayed Social Housing Green Paper; and a “fair and effective” welfare system through improvements to the controversial Universal Credit. Read more
JRF briefing shows how politicians can right the wrong of UK poverty They recommend: -
Boosting local economies where employment and earnings are low through ambitious/large-scale longterm investment in skills and infrastructure Ensuring social security provides a stronger anchor in turbulent times, especially for families with children, by delivering on the commitment to end the benefit freeze, end the five-week wait for Universal Credit, and boosting support for children Unlocking affordable homes for people on low incomes, by building 90,000 homes a year for social rent and re-linking housing support with rents.
The next government should build three million new social homes, spend 2% of GDP to fight the climate crisis, and invest £75bn to offer minimum income protection and universal basic services – among other measures – to start transforming the UK economy, according to a new package of policies published by New Economics Foundation (NEF). Setting out a vision for a new economy that tackles economic, ecological, and democratic problems, NEF outlines a plan to provide a decent safety net and provide high levels of lifelong care – backed by “huge” investment in a new generation of jobs in the industries and infrastructures needed to tackle the climate crisis. Read article
Number of empty homes up for third consecutive year The number of empty homes is up for a third consecutive year – and it’s the second year in a row to see a 10,000home rise. With numbers as they are, the National Coalition for Community Investment (NCCI), led by Action on Empty Homes (AEH), wants election commitments that make vacant properties a housing option. “As Britain decides its future in the current General Election, we once again see housing as a top issue amongst voters concerns – yet every government housing statistic is going the wrong way,” said Director of Action on Empty Homes Will McMahon. Read Article
Shared ownership ‘should be central’ to housing policy
Read Full Briefing
Cladding crisis front and centre of election campaigning
Aster Group has called on political parties to work together to fix Britain’s housing market and put shared ownership at the centre of their General Election manifestos.
The cladding crisis is front and centre of election campaigning, with the government accused of downplaying risks posed by high-pressure laminate (HPL) panels linked to the blaze that ripped through a student block in Bolton.
The group, which has increased the number of shared ownership properties within its portfolio by almost 50% to 2,500 over the past two years, has urged all parties to not ‘rip up the rule book and start again’ in terms of home ownership.
Election manifestos ‘need to tackle Britain’s high, unequal housing-costs’
Tampon Tax funding to support women at risk of homelessness
Report says low-income families have lost 90% of living standards gains since early 2000s. Rising housing costs have wiped out 90% of living standards gains for lowincome families since early 2000s, a new report reveals.
Charities from across England that work with women who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, have been awarded grants from Homeless Link’s Ending Women’s Homelessness grants programme, funded by the Government’s Tampon Tax Fund. Read article
The Resolution Foundation wants all party manifesto commitments to tying housing benefit to actual rents, recognizing the need for more social housing and recognising that social rents are on track to rise faster than private rents in the years to come – which may well push up further housing cost inequalities.
Trussell Trust wants hunger to be an election issue
Research released by the Foundation shows the housing crisis is really three crises: low home ownership, high housing costs and a particularly acute disaster for lowincome families. Read article
UK government loses supreme court fight over bedroom tax The supreme court has ruled against the UK government’s attempts to force the bedroom tax on 155 partners of people with severe disabilities, in a decision that will hamper ministerial attempts to water down human rights legislation. A unanimous judgment delivered by the court’s president, Lady Hale, ruled that applying a 14% housing benefit reduction to a man, referred only as RR, was a breach of his right to home under the Human Rights Act. Read article
The Devolution Parliament The next parliament will find itself once again dominated by Brexit – whatever the result of the General Election. The main risk is that, in doing so, Westminster will yet again be incapable of addressing the over-centralisation and regional inequalities that have created such a divided country. Devolution can provide a solution to these major issues: now is the time for central government to let the regions, towns and cities of England step forward. That’s why England needs a Devolution Parliament now more than ever. The UK is a uniquely centralised country: both political and economic power are hoarded in London to a disproportionate extent. Read article
Charity urges parties to pledge hunger protection, with more than 820,000 emergency food parcels given out over past six months. The Trussell Trust is calling for all parties to pledge protection from hunger, citing its latest stats showing more people than ever before are being forced to food banks – with more than 820,000 emergency food parcels given out in the past six months. April to September this year has been the busiest halfyear period for food banks in the Trussell Trust’s network since the charity opened. Read article
Clock ticking for associations to meet new consumer credit regulations Housing associations have fewer than four weeks to comply with new financial regulations or face potential penalties from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The Senior Managers and Certification Regime (SM&CR), coming into force on 9th December, will replace the Approved Persons regime, changing how those involved in financial services are regulated. Read more
Homes for the North Conference 2019 | Leeds | 14 November 2019
We have attended a number of conferences in the last few weeks which have been really beneficial in keeping up to date with whats going on in the sector. The learning from these conferences will be shared soon but here are some of the kep topics / themes.
If you would like to know more please contact Sarah Parrott or Victoria Dufferweil. Northern Housing Consortium Summit, Manchester 5th November 2019.
From Brexit to the private rented sector, the Northern Powerhouse to civil society - This event explored and debated the challenges and solutions to make the North an even greater place to live even in challenging and uncertain times. The first panel session asked ‘what can we expect for the housing sector in the North?’. We heard from Gavin Barwell, Chief of Staff to the British Prime Minister (from 2017-2019), Polly Mackenzie, Chief Executive of DEMOS and Director of Policy to the Deputy Prime Minister (from 2010-2015) and Director of the Smith Institute, Paul Hackett in this thought-provoking session. The NHC presented recent research with the Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence (CaCHE) on the scale of capacity reductions within local authority housing and planning departments across the North. Julia Unwin CBE, Chair of the Inquiry into the Future of Civil Society shared the headlines of her recent report: ‘The Story of Our Times: Shifting Power, Bridging Divides, Transforming Society’. The afternoon panel offers further debate with ‘Power Up the North’ chaired by Director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, Henri Murison. Professional practice sessions offered a range of different topics for delegates including raising standards in the north’s private rented sector, tackling empty homes and lessons learnt from the devolved nations, hearing from representatives from the housing sector in Scotland and Wales.
The first H4N conference took place in Leeds with the backdrop of continued political and economic uncertainty across the UK. The event centred around the role of the North in creating a balanced and prosperous future for the country and highlighted the importance of crosssector and cross-government support and the need for improved infrastructure, education and employment and building good quality, affordable and secure homes where people choose to live. Key speakers included Lord Kerslake who chairs the UK 2070 Commission - an independent inquiry into city and regional inequalities in the UK. It has been set up to conduct a review of the policy and spatial issues related to the UK’s long-term city and regional development. Chartered Institute of Housing 21-22 November 2019 Experts from the sector, the region and beyond explored the big picture and major challenges housing organisations face, including: An overview of the major housing challenges in the region, a detailed look at the economic climate and how it relates to housing organisations, the role regeneration can play in solving our housing crisis and the challenges and opportunities resulting from digitalisation and what should customer excellence look like in housing? Terrie Alafat CBE, chief executive, Chartered Institute of Housing kicked the conference off with ‘where do we want to be’? How can the sector deliver change to tackle the scourge of homelessness; the worsening affordability crisis; building the homes we desperately need and crucially getting the basics right to win back the trust of tenants and customers. Chris Marshall, senior neighbourhoods manager spoke about Thirteens new operating model at a session around approaches for delivering housing management services and Gemma Stockdale, senior project business partner shared her career experiences in a session aimed to provide insight into the journeys of three housing professionals at very different stages of their careers. Well done Chris and Gemma!!
Policy Consultations We keep an eye on government consultations around changes to policy that can affect the way we do business or our customers. We also keep an eye on local activity and feed in where we think we need to. We ensure we understand the implications for the business and, where applicable, we send a response to feed in Thirteenâ€™s views and provide evidence. Current and recent policy consultations are listed below. Consultation
Redress for purchasers of new build homes and the New Homes Ombudsman
Consultation closed, working to understand implications for Thirteen.
Consultation on the fuel poverty strategy for England
Feeding into Thirteen to Zero work.
Making home ownership affordable
No immediate action needed, if recommendations are implemented this could have impact on resource, alternative options could be positive in terms of encouraging staircasing and making shared ownership more attractive. Response submitted.
Good work plan: establishing a new single enforcement body for employment rights Health is everyone's business: Proposals to reduce ill health-related job loss
Consultation closed, working to understand implications.
A new deal for renting: resetting the balance of rights and responsibilities between landlords and tenants
Consultation seeks to make relationships between landlords and tenants fairer, therefore views were sought regarding the removal of shorthold tenancies, whether reforms should also apply to the Private Rented Sector, how effectively alternatives for Section 21 can be used, and how Section 8 could be used more efficiently. Within our response, we agreed with the majority of proposals and we also raised additional considerations for how appropriate proposals are for dealing with ASB and domestic abuse. The consultation sought to gather evidence of how effective the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 has been in terms of whether the outcomes have been achieved, how it has changed approaches to helping those in need, and what is working well / not working well. In our response, we agreed that the Act has had mostly positive impacts for us, e.g. it is easier to engage with customers and there is increased accountability. We also raised some concerns / barriers, e.g. increased demand, former rent arrears, and insufficient funding. This relates to new build high rises only â€“ no plans to look at this â€“ please let us know if you would like to pick this up
Homelessness Reduction Act 2017: call for evidence
Sprinklers and other fire safety measures in new high-rise blocks of flats The Future Homes Standard: changes to Part L and Part F of the Building Regulations for new dwellings
A package of measures which encourage early and supportive action by employers for their employees with health conditions. Taken together, these proposals aim to reduce ill health-related job loss and support people to thrive in work. Consultation closed, working to understand implications.
Consultation on the uplift to standards of Part L of the Building Regulations and changes to Part F. This uplift is the first step in achieving the Future Homes Standards. Coordinating response, deadline Jan 2020.
If you are aware of any ongoing consultations or think you can contribute to our work around any of these, please contact a member of the Policy & Research Team.
We keep a close eye on the housing sector and our wider operating environment, identifying key themes and trends and looking at what these might mean for us. The information that helps form this picture comes from sources such as: • • •
Our work with sector bodies and partners (National Housing Federation, Northern Housing Consortium, Homes for the North) Updates from other organisations we work with (Mazars and Vantage) Updates from the Government and our regulator
So, what’s going on in our operating environment at the moment?
Our customers and communities We’re increasingly spending time and resource on tackling crime, anti-social behaviour and nuisance on our estates. We know that this presents challenges for a number of other partners, and cuts to public sector spending have made dealing with this even more difficult. Our customers tell us it’s the biggest thing impacting on their perceptions of where they live. We’re speaking to partners about the impact this issue has on our customers, what Thirteen is doing to respond and how we can work together to use resources more effectively.
The housing sector and wider landscape The Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) is continuing to place pressure on providers to deliver Value for Money (VfM) as well as new homes. Vantage’s analysis of the financial performance of leading Registered Providers (RPs) has shown reduced margins across the sector. Average operating margins have fallen from 35.5% in 2017 to 34.5% in 2018 down to 32.1% in 2019, with this trend expected to continue due to the 1% rent reduction next year and increased costs in other areas. Further analysis shows increased repairs and maintenance spend, up by 6.8% and put down to heightened spending on building safety. There has been an increase in rent arrears across the sector put down to the roll out of Universal Credit and income lost due to void properties has remained consistent with previous years. It appears that as a sector despite a number of innovative initiatives, the challenge of turning around empty properties remains. To give you a feel for the magnitude of this we have calculated that void losses for the sector equate to nearly 33,000 empty properties for the whole year. Some providers have been struggling to deliver new supply due to issues with the housing market and demand for outright sales. The Regulator of Social Housing’s Sector Risk Profile 2019 has recently been published and highlights that strategic and operational risks facing the social housing sector are on the rise. The most significant risks that boards must manage and mitigate include:
• Health and safety compliance – providers have an obligation to ensure the homes they provide are safe for tenants and must fulfil their legal duty of care to staff • Stock condition and asset management – investment should be based on a good, evidenced understanding of the overall condition of stock underpinned by up-to-date data • Market sales exposure – the implications of the market cycle and a slowdown in some geographical areas on providers’ cash flow and development plans • Reputational risk – business decisions, performance and probity across all areas of operation and board and executive members’ conduct should have regard to the expectations of all stakeholders • Rents – strategies and business plans need to cope with changes in housing policy and related areas including welfare reform. The Green Paper We’re still waiting for an update on last year’s Green Paper, with enhanced regulation around the tenant voice and consumer standards expected. Whilst we’re waiting for things to unfold around Brexit and trying to keep up with happenings in Parliament, we’ve already started to see prohomeownership policies coming through. There are changes proposed to shared ownership and how this works, and also to make purchasing through shared ownership an automatic right on all new build properties. Budget Finance minister Sajid Javid said there would be a budget this year, the content of which would depend on whether Britain leaves the European Union with a deal or without a deal, and promised that if there was no exit deal, he would deploy “the full armoury of economic policy” if needed. We expect this to include all future capital spending for the years beyond 2021/22, and the publication of the National Infrastructure Strategy. Some market indicators are beginning to point towards recession, we therefore need to keep a close eye on the potential impact for the business by monitoring the north eastern economy, and how other sectors and businesses are faring. Climate Change There has been a growing climate change movement over the last year. In June 2019, the UK became the first major economy to pass a net zero emissions law. The new target will require the UK to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. We’re currently working on how Thirteen will contribute to reaching this target.
The North A big positive for us is that the Northern Powerhouse and northern matters still seem to be a hot topic. We’re continuing to work with sector bodies and partners to shout about the need for regeneration in the North and demonstrate the value of investing in northern communities. We have a number of joint ventures in place with local authority partners and are working with Middlesbrough Council on the regeneration of the Gresham area. Common or key themes being discussed at the conference: political instability, infrastructure, devolution, supply, social housing, house building & regeneration (for north) planning system. Connectivity, tenant engagement, building safety, welfare and health, affordability and climate emergency, future skills workforce, Modern methods of construction and lettings standards & allocation.