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This week's National news (September 1 - September 5)

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NATIONAL:Four out of five parents fear for children’s housing future


New research has revealed that parents’ hopes for their sons and daughters’ futures are being clouded by fears they will never afford their own home, and a belief the main political parties are not doing enough to deal with the housing crisis.
 
According to figures from a new YouGov poll for the National Housing Federation, 81 per cent of parents in England of children 18 and under are worried about the impact of rising house prices on the next generation. Over two thirds of parents (69 per cent) fear their children will not be able to buy their own home without financial help from the ‘bank of mum and dad’.
 
Many parents are making the effort to give the next generation a leg up, with a quarter (25 per cent) already saving money specifically for their children’s first home. At the same time, more than one in twenty (6 per cent) are still reliant on hand outs from their own parents to help with spiralling housing costs.
 
The National Housing Federation predicts that by 2020 a staggering 3.7million young people, today’s school children, will be living with parents and by 2030 house prices will soar to 13 times the average salary.
 
According to the National Housing Federation’s research, over three quarters of parents (76 per cent) believe more attention and investment should be given to affordable housing but 80 per cent do not think any of the main political parties will effectively deal with the issue of housing.
 
National Housing Federation chief executive, David Orr (pictured) said: “We can’t let our children become the generation of lost opportunities. Parents should be looking forward to a bright and prosperous future for their children, but are quite rightly alarmed that they will be worse off than them.
 
“Children are facing the ticking time bomb of being priced out of the communities where they’ve grown up, and unless they are able to borrow from the ‘bank of mum and dad’ many will face living in their childhood bedrooms well into adulthood or renting for the rest of their lives.
 
“Parents are feeling the pressure to foot the bill to safeguard their children’s futures but they don’t feel any of the mainstream political parties are tackling housing issues. We need the Government to take action to end the housing crisis within a generation, for the next generation.”
 
www.housing.org.uk
 
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NATIONAL:Centrepoint launches smartphone app for homeless young people


A new app from homeless charity Centrepoint is expected to transform how social care services support young people.
 
After being awarded £500,000 from the Google Impact challenge, Centrepoint, which works with homeless young people, is developing an app that will help establish which of its interventions is most effective.
 
Nicholas Connolly, head of corporate development at Centrepoint, believes the new app “has the potential to be transformative” and hopes it can become a blueprint for how other services develop social care.
 
“The app is going to be an alumni club,” Connolly explained. “We’re trying to create a social network for homeless young people and ex-homeless young people so they can keep in contact. In that way we will be able to keep an on-going dialogue with them so we will be able to find out how they are doing and what interventions have been successful.”
 
A fifth of young people who have used Centrepoint in the last year have been care leavers, the charity reveals.
 
Chris Gerrard, senior media and PR officer, hopes the app will contribute to a better leaving care service for them.
 
“There’s a strong link between care leavers and homelessness and although all the finer details of the project need to be mapped out, I’m confident that group will be one of the focuses,” Gerrard says.
 
“Young people often struggle to adapt to independence once they no longer receive support at 21; but the app could potentially highlight the challenges young people are facing, the driving factors and suggest the solutions that are and aren’t working.”
 
The app will mean young people who enter Centrepoint services can share their experiences during, and most importantly in the medium to long-term after they leave, so they can measure the success of the interventions and use that to improve services. The data collected will be shared with relevant organisations, including social services.
 
Connolly hopes the app will help young people requiring homelessness services, and make it easier for local authorities and other charities to decide which services or interventions to implement. “This kind of data has never been kept and analysed – I think in the whole of welfare, but certainly in youth homelessness,” he said.
 
Collecting reflective and on-going data about what does and doesn’t work for young people could help charities and local authorities to provide better interventions in the future.
 
“When a young person first comes to Centrepoint they think their problems are X, Y and Z. Halfway through their time at Centrepoint they think it’s A, B and C. When they leave and two years down the line they have a job and they are a bit more stable they will probably realise that actually it was G. That journey, that self-realisation will be really helpful to map because that helps us communicate with different young people as they come along,” said Connolly.
 
The Google funding came after the search engine recognised the app’s potential and shortlisted it for the Impact Challenge. There it was also recognised by the public who voted it one of the four winners of the challenge, netting the charity £500,000.
 
But it’s not just about the app, Connolly explains: “It’s about marrying the future with knowledge of what happens when people leave and the huge amount of data we can collect… We can understand causes, solutions, existing interventions and possible outcomes.”
 
centrepoint.org.uk

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NATIONAL:Politicians ‘have nothing to fear’ from backing social housing

 
Politicians should not shy away from campaigning for a new era of social housing construction according to a new report.
 
The claim comes following research by the Fabian Society showing the majority of the public would back a new era of mass social housing construction to help tackle the UK’s housing crisis.
 
The think tank report ‘Silent Majority: How the public will support a new wave of social housing’ has been supported by the not-for-profit Home Group – one of the UK’s largest providers of affordable housing.
 
The findings show that an overwhelming 93 per cent of the population feels that the UK housing system is not functioning correctly. More than half of the population (57 per cent) say they would support more social housing being built. A further 22 per cent feel indifferent with only 15 per cent opposing more building.
 
Crucially three quarters (74 per cent) of those who support more social housing construction say they would also support homes being built in their area. This finding throws into doubt the long held assumption among many that new developments are often likely to be opposed by the majority of local residents.
 
With the housing crisis continuing to climb up the political agenda and the general election only nine months away the findings should give confidence to politicians at national and local levels that backing developments of social housing could be a vote winner.
 
Brian Ham (pictured), Home Group executive director of enterprise and development, said: “It’s obvious the UK housing market isn’t working. A new era of growth in affordable housing construction has a major part to play in addressing the situation.
 
“The findings of this report confirm what Home Group has experienced in practice at some of our developments and it’s fitting the authors of the report have used the phrase Silent Majority in the title.
 
“The small number of residents who oppose development are very good at shouting very loudly and can give the impression of a local community being opposed. The reality can be very different.
 
“Politicians understandably will always want to take into account the public’s view when deciding where they stand on an issue but this research suggests that those who shout the loudest are necessarily speaking in behalf of everyone.
 
“Newspapers and media will naturally focus on campaign groups when covering planning applications as conflict generates headlines. But decision makers should take account of the silent majority which clearly back the idea of building more social housing.”
 
Report co-author Robert Tinker (pictured) added: “It has long been held that social housing is an unpopular area for politicians to dabble in…Our research shows these fears are unjustified.
 
“People are strongly supportive of new social housing and remain broadly supportive of new social housing even if it will be in their area. There are no public opinion restrictions to action.”
 
Copies of the report ‘Silent Majority: How the public will support a new wave of social housing” can be downloaded from the Fabian Society.
 
www.homegroup.org.uk

 
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NATIONAL:Poll reveals dissatisfaction among tenants

 
The vast majority of social housing tenants do not feel listened to or cared about by their landlords, a survey has found.
 
The Big Tenant Survey of 61,000 tenants found only 32 per cent of people were satisfied that their landlord "listens to them and acts upon their views", while just 22 per cent feel that their landlord "cares about them and their family".
 
The results show that landlords "may need to get to know their tenants better", according to Richard Blundell (pictured), CEO of Housing Partners, which conducted the survey.
 
More than half of the survey respondents would not currently recommend their landlord to a friend or relative.
 
Over the next three years, under the Government's Welfare Reform changes, billions of pounds of housing benefits will change from being paid straight to landlords and be paid directly to tenants, many of whom have never before been responsible for paying their rent.
 
"With housing benefits changes now on the horizon, good levels of trust, communication and pro-activity between landlords and tenants are critical," Mr Blundell said.
 
The survey found that 25 per cent of the people surveyed fully understand the current welfare changes, and 42 per cent of those receiving full housing benefit are highly anxious about having their rent paid directly to them instead of straight to their landlords.
 
About a third (33.8 per cent) of survey respondents believe that direct payments will make it difficult for them to budget.
 
Londoners were the most dissatisfied tenants responding to the survey with only 16 per cent (national average 24 per cent) saying they would recommend their council or housing association landlord to a friend or relative, and 17 per cent (national average 22 per cent) saying they feel their landlords care about them and their family.
 
Just 24 per cent of Londoners said they were satisfied their landlord listens to them and acts on their views (national average 32 per cent).
 
Tenants in Northern Ireland were the second most dissatisfied, with 26 per cent satisfied their landlord listens to them and acts on their views.
 
People in the North West (38 per cent) were most satisfied that this was true of their landlord.
 
Mr Blundell added: "We know that in the past it has been hard to hear tenants' voices from across the country, but our first Big Tenant Survey gives our sector valuable insight.
 
"It provides a more comprehensive picture of what tenants think about their landlords, their homes and the Government's welfare reforms.
 
"The survey also provides vital information that can help landlords avoid the business risks presented with tenants falling into arrears and we look forward to sharing the deeper findings with our landlord partners."
 
Tenants who filled in the survey are renting with 1,422 different social housing landlords in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
 
The Big Tenant Survey is intended to be an annual event.
 
www.housingpartners.co.uk

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NATIONAL:Centrepoint launches smartphone app for homeless young people 


A new app from homeless charity Centrepoint is expected to transform how social care services support young people.
 
After being awarded £500,000 from the Google Impact challenge, Centrepoint, which works with homeless young people, is developing an app that will help establish which of its interventions is most effective.
 
Nicholas Connolly, head of corporate development at Centrepoint, believes the new app “has the potential to be transformative” and hopes it can become a blueprint for how other services develop social care.
 
“The app is going to be an alumni club,” Connolly explained. “We’re trying to create a social network for homeless young people and ex-homeless young people so they can keep in contact. In that way we will be able to keep an on-going dialogue with them so we will be able to find out how they are doing and what interventions have been successful.”
 
A fifth of young people who have used Centrepoint in the last year have been care leavers, the charity reveals.
 
Chris Gerrard, senior media and PR officer, hopes the app will contribute to a better leaving care service for them.
 
“There’s a strong link between care leavers and homelessness and although all the finer details of the project need to be mapped out, I’m confident that group will be one of the focuses,” Gerrard says.
 
“Young people often struggle to adapt to independence once they no longer receive support at 21; but the app could potentially highlight the challenges young people are facing, the driving factors and suggest the solutions that are and aren’t working.”
 
The app will mean young people who enter Centrepoint services can share their experiences during, and most importantly in the medium to long-term after they leave, so they can measure the success of the interventions and use that to improve services. The data collected will be shared with relevant organisations, including social services.
 
Connolly hopes the app will help young people requiring homelessness services, and make it easier for local authorities and other charities to decide which services or interventions to implement. “This kind of data has never been kept and analysed – I think in the whole of welfare, but certainly in youth homelessness,” he said.
 
Collecting reflective and on-going data about what does and doesn’t work for young people could help charities and local authorities to provide better interventions in the future.
 
“When a young person first comes to Centrepoint they think their problems are X, Y and Z. Halfway through their time at Centrepoint they think it’s A, B and C. When they leave and two years down the line they have a job and they are a bit more stable they will probably realise that actually it was G. That journey, that self-realisation will be really helpful to map because that helps us communicate with different young people as they come along,” said Connolly.
 
The Google funding came after the search engine recognised the app’s potential and shortlisted it for the Impact Challenge. There it was also recognised by the public who voted it one of the four winners of the challenge, netting the charity £500,000.
 
But it’s not just about the app, Connolly explains: “It’s about marrying the future with knowledge of what happens when people leave and the huge amount of data we can collect… We can understand causes, solutions, existing interventions and possible outcomes.”
 
centrepoint.org.uk


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NATIONAL:Blog: Renters need more protection than legal technicalities

 
By Hannah Gousy at Shelter
 
Two legal cases about private renting have gained a lot of attention recently in the housing press. Both concern the use of possession notices. But what are the implications for renters?
 
The first is Superstrike Limited vs. Rodrigues, a tenancy deposit case which came before the Court of Appeal last year.  Superstrike took a deposit before the tenancy deposit legislation came into effect in April 2007. When the 12 month fixed term contract came to an end in 2008 and became a rolling statutory periodic tenancy, Superstrike failed to protect the deposit. In 2011, when the tenant, Mr Rodrigues, was served with a Section 21 possession notice, he argued his landlord couldn’t evict him because they hadn’t complied with tenancy deposit legislation, as the periodic tenancy had started after the law had come into force in 2007.
 
The Court of Appeal ruled in favour of Mr Rodrigues. A rolling statutory periodic tenancy was considered to be a new tenancy, not a continuation of a fixed term. The outcome was that, to comply with the legislation, even in cases where a deposit had been legally protected, landlords had to issue the prescribed information to confirm this whenever a new tenancy arose.
 
Landlords reported this caused a lot of confusion.
 
The Government’s response was that this wasn’t the intention of the original tenancy deposits legislation, so they’ve tabled an amendment on deposit protection as part of the Deregulation Bill. If the amendment passes, landlords will not need to re-issue the information about deposit protection when a fixed term tenancy becomes a rolling tenancy or is renewed for deposits taken since April 2007And landlords will be allowed 90 days to protect deposits taken before April 2007.
 
This amendment in itself will not substantially affect the rights of renters – requiring landlords to re-serve information which has already been given doesn’t give renters any extra protection. But the case is important because, even where a deposit had been protected, it allowed renters to challenge an eviction on the technicality that the landlord had failed to serve the correct information. This didn’t ultimately stop renters being evicted – but it delayed the process while the landlord served the correct information and then reissued the Section 21 notice, giving them more of a chance to find another letting.
 
The other recent case of interest is Spencer vs. Taylor; another Court of Appeal case concerning the technical details of how a Section 21 eviction notice is served.

The law currently sets out two types of ‘no-fault’ Section 21 notices, one for fixed-term tenancies and one for periodic tenancies.
 
Under both notices, landlords must give a two month notice period. However, in a periodic tenancy the landlord must also ensure that the notice is dated to expire on the last day of a period of the tenancy. In practice this means that renters are given as a minimum two months’ notice plus however many days or weeks to bring them up to the end of their tenancy period.  So, for example, if the rent is normally paid on 30th of each month, if notice is served on 15 June, it notice should be dated to expire on 29th August.
 
This difference between the two notices is fairly subtle, so landlords often confuse the two – either serving the wrong notice or providing an incorrect expiry date.  This allows renters to challenge a Section 21 notice on the basis it’s incorrect.
 
This is what happened in the case of Ms Taylor, who was in a statutory periodic tenancy after the expiry of a fixed term tenancy. When her landlord served a Section 21 notice, he failed to properly calculate the correct last day of the tenancy period. The court ruled that the notice was in fact valid because the tenancy had at some stage been a fixed term, and so it only needed to be two calendar months long.
 
Much to the surprise of housing lawyers, the Supreme Court refused Ms Taylor permission to appeal this decision, so it stands. Landlords can now use either type of Section 21 notice to evict tenants who are in a statutory periodic tenancy. Both only give renters two months to find a new home. Again, this case removes the scope to challenge some Section 21 notice on a technicality.  That landlords might confuse the two notices and serve them incorrectly gave renters some limited ability to challenge a possession notice and remain in their homes for a bit longer. When you’ve got to uproot your family, possibly after living in your home for a number of years, and find somewhere new to live in a hurry, even a few weeks’ more notice can make a difference.
 
What are the implications for renters?
 
The key implication is that the already narrow scope that renters had to challenge Section 21 no-fault eviction notices has been narrowed further – as landlords are now more likely to get the notices right first time. This matters because renters have so few rights to challenge a no-fault eviction.
 
Both these cases highlight the very fragile position of renters, and the lack of legal protection to stop them being evicted from their homes at very little notice.  With 9 million people now renting from a private landlord – 1.3m of them families with children – it’s clear that renters who pay their rent and act responsibly urgently need more protection from losing their home with just two months’ notice.
 
www.shelter.org.uk

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NATIONAL:Charity highlights ‘Zero Heroes’

 
A charity that supports formerly homeless people by giving them a place to live and work in a social enterprise is highlighting its 'zero waste' credentials this week.
 
Across the UK, Emmaus has 24 communities where the formerly homeless residents regularly save tonnes of waste from landfill through reycling and reuse. Most recently collected data (which accounts for 13 of the communities) shows that the charity saved 4000 tonnes of waste from landfill in 2013-2014.
 
To celebrate the seventh Zero Waste Week (1 - 7 September), Emmaus Brighton & Hove is planning a fab window display, designed by one of its volunteers, and Emmaus Bolton staff and companions aim to talk to customers about the ways that they save as many items as possible from landfill via reuse and recycling.
 
Many of the charity's other communities and groups will also be quietly going about their business, stripping copper, sending clothes that can’t be sold off for ragging, and cooking up home grown veggies in the community kitchens.
 
The campaign has gained real traction this year, with celebrities like top designer Vivienne Westwood putting their names to the idea and thousands of people making Zero Waste Week pledges.
 
Emmaus UK is also celebrating the rather more unsung followers of reuse fashion - or 'Zero Heroes' as they are known, within its own movement. Many companions - as residents are called - find a special niche within their communities, recycling, refurbishing or stripping donations from the public, for copper or other useable parts.
 
Karen at Emmaus St Albans - is an upcycling champion if ever there was one. Karen loves nothing better than revamping and reusing the things that other people might just disregard. By cutting out butterflies from a ripped chiffon scarf, and painting a dull brown wicker basket buttercup yellow, she created a beautiful thing.
 
Simon from Emmaus Village Carlton - he loves rescuing furniture destined for the tip. Who would have thought that a battered old coffee table could be brought back to life with a bit of jazzy zebra print?
 
Dean at Emmaus Hampshire - tattooing and sanding – not necessarily a natural partnership at first glance, but Dean is keen to see the designs he used to create on skin, appearing on upcycled furniture.
 
Gav from Emmaus Leicestershire & Rutland – he describes himself as mad about stripping appliances, and a little bit finicky with it. He wants to teach others how to get every last scrap of useable metal from donated goods.
 
And finally, Stephen from Emmaus Glasgow – he knows instinctively how to use natural techniques to make tired furniture glow. A bit of wax here, a couple of repairs there and he’s making Rennie Mackintoshes out of every donation.
 
www.emmaus.org.uk

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NATIONAL:Report calls for ‘carrot and stick approach’ to improve private rented sector

 
Extra tax breaks should be offered to landlords who sign up for a national accreditation scheme to raise standards in the private rented sector, according to a new report.

The report, from the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) and the Resolution Foundation (RF), says that targeted incentives for landlords would encourage them to improve the maintenance and management of their properties, offering a 'something for something' deal. Private landlords currently receive around £7 billion of tax allowances a year, including for repairs and maintenance, but there is no incentive to carry out work above the minimum standard - and that standard is not being enforced effectively.

Today's report suggests that financial incentives could either take the form of new additional funds for those who sign up for accreditation, or diverting more of the existing allowance to those who do.

But it also warns that more effective regulation is needed to tackle the most unscrupulous landlords - and to ban letting agents from charging tenants fees.

The private rented sector has doubled in size since 1992 and now accounts for 18 per cent of all households in England - that's four million households, making it the second biggest tenure in the country, after home ownership. The percentage of private renters aged 25-34 has risen from 31 per cent in 2008-09 to 45 per cent in 2012-13, and the sector is also housing an increasing number of families and older people.

The English Housing Survey shows that a third of private rented homes would have failed the government's Decent Homes Standard in 2012, compared to only around one in seven social rented homes, while almost one in five don't have central heating.  Most private landlords are individuals with only one or two properties.
 
Very few are full-time professional landlords, which means that standards of housing management, while by no means universally poor, are inconsistent. In the worst cases unscrupulous landlords are able to exploit vulnerable people who have very little choice when it comes to housing.

Current government policy is mostly focused on improving standards by encouraging greater competition in the sector, while Labour policy is mostly focused on greater regulation. But CIH and RF said a combined 'carrot and stick' approach would be more effective.

The report recommends:

·         Creating a single, easily understood set of minimum standards (covering both property conditions and housing management) for landlords and making sure that sufficient resources are made available for enforcement
·         Extending the regulation covering estate agents to letting agents and stopping letting agents charging tenants fees for their services
·         Considering the use of incentives by the government to encourage landlords to commit to higher standards (over and above the legal minimum)
·         Developing a nationally agreed set of standards for accreditation (covering both property conditions and housing management)

In setting new financial incentives for landlords, the report says the Government could consider:

·         Giving accredited landlords a more generous tax allowance for 'allowable expenses' (where landlords deduct the cost of repairs from their profits for income tax purposes), compared to unaccredited landlords
·         Allowing landlords to treat any improvement needed to bring a property up to standard as an 'allowable expense', instead of deducting it from their capital gains tax liability when they sell the property - so they would get a more immediate tax benefit from the investment
·         Allowing accredited landlords to benefit from capital gains tax rollover relief (meaning that if a rented property is sold and the proceeds are immediately reinvested in another, the landlord would not pay capital gains tax on any profit they had made).

CIH chief executive Grainia Long (pictured) said: "This Government has focused on measures to boost home ownership, but with more and more people living in the private rented sector - including more older people, more families with children and more vulnerable people from the housing waiting list - it's vital that we look at new ways to raise standards. The cost of housing means that for many people, the private rented sector is the only option - but too many of them are having to put up with poor standards and insecurity.  Ultimately, we want people to have a good choice of housing at a price they can afford, so we need to make private rent a better option."

RF deputy chief executive Vidhya Alakeson added: "Many landlords already benefit from generous public subsidy but, while many of them are responsible, not all of them give anything in return. By introducing the principle of getting 'something for something' from this investment we could ensure that housing is improved and works better for both tenants and landlords. Government should incentivise those who work to raise their game in order to improve the overall standards of private renting."

Responding to the report, the Residential Landlords Association called for an overhaul of the way the private rented sector is policed, arguing that the current system is letting tenants and landlords down.
 
With local authorities facing resource restrictions on their ability to enforce standards in the sector, the landlord organisation is calling for a two pronged approach that will end the absurdity of councils spending time and money on regulating the good landlords at the expense of rooting out the criminals operating under the radar.
 
Under the RLA’s proposals, a new nationwide accreditation scheme, with a single clear set of standards would be run by the industry with robust sanctions for those landlords found to be in breach of them. Tenants would then have a clear and simple badge to look for ending the bewildering number of schemes already in force.
 
For landlords also, it would mean dealing with one body, in much the same way as bus passes are issued by a local authority for use nationwide, ending the red tape of applying to multiple councils for permission to rent properties out.
 
This, it argues, would free local authorities to use their finite resources to search for those landlords who would not voluntarily make themselves known, enabling them to take action against them.
 
Alan Ward, chairman of the RLA welcomed the report but said it “does not go far enough”.
 
Mr Ward (pictured) added: “The report notes that existing regulations are not always enforced properly, a result of poorly resourced local authorities.
 
“The sector is already creaking under the weight of regulation. Without proper enforcement this becomes useless.
 
“We need to get much smarter in how we regulate the sector and our proposal makes the system much clearer to understand for tenants and landlords whilst enabling councils to use their resources more effectively.” 

Read 'More Than A Roof: How incentives can improve standards in the private rented sector'

 
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NATIONAL:LHC partnership delivers value for NHC membership


A collaborative partnership between LHC and the Northern Housing Consortium (NHC) continues to drive commercial benefits for northern housing providers.
 
Established in 2009, the joint venture was set up to offer bodies responsible for social housing and public buildings access to a wide range of frameworks.
 
The partnership has delivered great synergies for members of both organisations, offering a comprehensive procurement solution that drives efficiencies as well as compliance in a heightened regulatory regime.
 

Clive Feeney and Tracy Harrison
 
Key benefits of the collaborative approach, has been the joint purchasing power which has driven greater economies of scale and better value to the membership.
 
The frameworks are also supported by experienced technical specialists who provide advice from pre-tender stage to project completion, adding further value through customer care and project delivery.
 
Clive Feeney, divisional manager for LHC, believes the partnership is an innovative example of two like-minded organisations committed to helping members drive efficiencies and procure in a more compliant way.
 
“Collaboration has proven to be more successful than working in isolation for both LHC and NHC,” he said.
 
“When we first explored the partnership, LHC did not have any presence in the north of England and we were looking for a partner to enable us to engage with social housing providers in the region.
 
“With NHC there were clear synergies, however there wasn’t any overlap in our frameworks, and we recognised an opportunity to provide housing providers with a comprehensive procurement solution, covering both services and products.”
 
Consortium Procurement is the commercial services team of NHC, responsible for the development of business solutions to meet the needs of its membership.
 
Tracy Harrison, commercial director at NHC, believes the partnership has enabled both organisations to deliver robust and compliant frameworks that bring improvements to housing and significant community benefit.
 
A key example of this being a windows and doors replacement programme on behalf of City of York Council, which will cover 900 properties once completed.
 
Ms Harrison said: “Public procurement is heavily regulated and is a high area of risk for housing providers – our collaboration will enable us to offer a wider range of frameworks to our members to support with their procurement priorities.
 
“However procurement is only one aspect of our role – in protecting the interest of social housing providers, we have a wider remit in policy expertise and advising central government policy makers, allowing them to understand the role of housing providers in delivering affordable housing.”
 
The collaboration has been strengthened further recently, with the LHC appointment of Graeme Chater as a client support officer for north of England.
 
Graeme's role will involve developing the partnership with Consortium Procurement, by promoting LHC frameworks to NHC members.
 
LHC is also set to announce a number of collaborative frameworks that have been developed in response to the demands of the NHC membership.
 
“Both LHC and NHC are not for profit, which means we are able to invest in delivering social benefits and value for members,” said Mr Feeney.
 
“This strategic objective is reflected in the upcoming collaborative frameworks which have been developed following focused engagement with the membership.
 
“Unique to the market place, the frameworks respond the commercial and compliance requirements of housing providers, delivering value in an ever changing social and regulatory landscape.”
 
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NATIONAL:Rising private housing registrations offset fall in public sector homes


Private sector registrations rose almost 7 per cent to 28,861 during the three months from May to July compensating for a sharp fall in public housing over the period.

According to NHBC’s latest figures this kept the total number of new homes registered across the UK slightly ahead of last year despite a 14 per cent fall in social housing starts to 9,238.

The latest statistics show that overall 38,099 new homes, up 1 per cent on May – July last year.

The rise builds on the strong growth seen throughout the country over the last 18 months.

Across the regions London suffered a17 per cent fall in registrations, while the East Midlands jumped 55 per cent in the three-month period.

Registrations for July alone dropped slightly to 13,153 from 13,539 in July 2013, again due to falling public registrations.

NHBC’s chief executive Mike Quinton (pictured) said: “Our latest statistics continue the trend seen during the year to date, with monthly volumes remaining steady and consolidating on last year’s overall levels.

“As we have stressed in the past, this recovery has been from a historically low base, so the industry must continue to work hard to meet the demand for more new, quality homes.”
 
Region May –July 2014 May–July 2013
England - Regions     
North East  1,368  1,467 
North West 2,616  2,313 
Merseyside 332 552
Yorkshire & the Humber 2,423 1,978 
West Midlands 3,211 2,795
East Midlands 3,984 2,571
Eastern 3,505 3,938
South West  3,924 3,961
Greater London  6,546  7,917
South East 6,056 6,203
Totals for England 33,965 33,695
     
Scotland - Councils  2,454 2,762
Wales 1,123 884
Northern Ireland 516 360 
Isle of Man 41 37
     
Totals for UK  38,099  37,738
 


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NATIONAL:Home Group backs new poll fears over social care

 
Home Group has called on the Government to pump major new investment into the ailing social care system in England following a damaging public survey of the sector.
 
The YouGov survey of more than 4,000 people found that seven out of ten respondents over 60 are not confident they will receive good care when they need it and only 25 per cent believe they will receive the care they need that will allow them to lead a good life.
 
Home Group is one of 75 of the country's leading charities who commissioned the poll and who are campaigning, alongside millions of older and disabled people and their carers, for a properly funded care system. 
 
The Care and Support Alliance (CSA) argues that the system is on its knees, with demand going up at the same time as chronic under funding has seen fewer and fewer people getting support.
 
Rachael Byrne (pictured), executive director of care and support at Home Group, which provides social care services to 30,000 people each year, said: "This survey details just how deep public concern runs regarding the future of social care. The proper funding of social care for a growing and ageing population is an issue which this Government and future administrations can no longer shy away from.
 
"The majority of people surveyed fear they won't get the level of care they need in their latter years to help them lead a decent quality of life. Next to more investment in the NHS, the proper Government funding of social care is the biggest priority for people.
 
“Social care has suffered for years from chronic under funding and we have reached the point today where professionals fear they will no longer be able to help all those vulnerable people who desperately need their support.
 
"The people receiving care are often viewed as being on the fringes of society - the elderly, people with mental health issues, people with long term conditions and individuals suffering from drug or alcohol dependency. But it also affects the many families struggling to care for loved ones and a growing number of very young people who are caring for their parents.
 
“We know that one in three people have experience of personally relying on, or have a close family member that has experience of relying on the care system.
 
“Home Group wants a significant injection of new money into local social care economies to deliver support for all those who need it.
 
“Such an investment needs to be substantial – we estimate £2.8bn to deliver help to all those who need it. The alternative though will mean placing a huge additional strain on already overstretched A&E departments and GPs surgeries which will be the places vulnerable people turn to for help they no longer receive.”
 
In June the Government confirmed that it’s not planning to reverse the trend that has seen the majority of councils restrict care to only those with the highest needs when it sets its national level for eligibility due to come into effect from April next year.
 
Age UK state that almost 900,000 older people in England and Wales who struggle with such basic tasks as washing and dressing are being left to fend for themselves.
 
And CSA research shows that 500,000 people who would have got care in 2009 are no longer entitled to it.
 
Earlier this year the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) warned that a further reduction in Government funding of £266 million over the next year will mean that local authority social services departments will no longer be able to absorb growing demands for their help.

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NATIONAL:Rising private housing registrations offset fall in public sector homes 


Private sector registrations rose almost 7 per cent to 28,861 during the three months from May to July compensating for a sharp fall in public housing over the period.

According to NHBC’s latest figures this kept the total number of new homes registered across the UK slightly ahead of last year despite a 14 per cent fall in social housing starts to 9,238.

The latest statistics show that overall 38,099 new homes, up 1 per cent on May – July last year.

The rise builds on the strong growth seen throughout the country over the last 18 months.

Across the regions London suffered a17 per cent fall in registrations, while the East Midlands jumped 55 per cent in the three-month period.

Registrations for July alone dropped slightly to 13,153 from 13,539 in July 2013, again due to falling public registrations.

NHBC’s chief executive Mike Quinton (pictured) said: “Our latest statistics continue the trend seen during the year to date, with monthly volumes remaining steady and consolidating on last year’s overall levels.

“As we have stressed in the past, this recovery has been from a historically low base, so the industry must continue to work hard to meet the demand for more new, quality homes.”
 

Region May –July 2014 May–July 2013
England - Regions     
North East  1,368  1,467 
North West 2,616  2,313 
Merseyside 332 552
Yorkshire & the Humber 2,423 1,978 
West Midlands 3,211 2,795
East Midlands 3,984 2,571
Eastern 3,505 3,938
South West  3,924 3,961
Greater London  6,546  7,917
South East 6,056 6,203
Totals for England 33,965 33,695
     
Scotland - Councils  2,454 2,762
Wales 1,123 884
Northern Ireland 516 360 
Isle of Man 41 37
     
Totals for UK  38,099  37,738
 


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NATIONAL:Blog: Working families forced to cut back to pay their housing costs

By Zorana Halpin at Shelter
 
Our research, out today, shows that working parents are struggling to make ends meet, with the equivalent of 880,000 working parents skipping a meal in the past year to pay their housing costs.
 
Despite working families doing whatever it takes to keep a roof over their children’s head, the effects of rising housing costs are taking their toll.
 
The government’s English Housing Survey shows on average, households spend almost a third of their weekly income on housing costs, rising to two fifths for private renters. What we know now is that the growing proportion of income swallowed up by rent or mortgage payments leaves families with no choice but to cut back on essentials – our research shows that last year 3.1 million working parents had to cut back on what they spend on food.
 
 
Just how many cut backs can families make? How long can parents continue to skip a meal in order to pay their rent? And what happens if these families lose their jobs?
If these families living on a knife edge suffer a setback – such as being made redundant or falling ill – they are likely to have little to rely on in terms of savings. Government support will be vital whilst they look for work. But the housing safety net has been successively weakened over the past few years meaning that from day one things are tougher for someone who is newly unemployed:  
  • Previously, the newly unemployed got support with their full rent for 13 weeks. This gave them chance to find employment, without having to worry about getting into debt.  Now, those renting privately will only get support to the equivalent of Local Housing Allowance (housing benefit for private renters) rates in their local area. For many families there will be a shortfall between the support they get and their actual rent. Families without an income or savings will struggle to pay that shortfall and could easily leave them building up rent arrears.
  • Under Universal Credit newly unemployed people will not be entitled to any support for the first 7 days of unemployment. Because Universal Credit is paid a month in arrears, this means they will have to wait for 5 weeks for their first payment towards housing costs. We think this unnecessarily exposes struggling families to rent arrears. 
  • On top of that, under current government proposals newly unemployed families in rent arrears will face a hefty 40% deduction from their benefits, until they pay their rent arrears off. This leaves families living on a shoestring. 
We know the majority of people think a housing safety net is an essential part of civilised society.
 
When families fall on hard times there should be government support to help them to get back on their feet – that support should kick in immediately and shouldn’t leave families in arrears and facing eviction.
 
That’s why we’re asking our supporters to tell the government that we need an adequate safety net.  
 
In the meantime, we want struggling families to know that Shelter can help – because losing your job shouldn’t mean losing your home.

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NATIONAL:Homeless International to take on social enterprise model

 
A collaborative partnership between LHC and the Northern Housing Consortium (NHC) continues to drive commercial benefits for northern housing providers.
 
Established in 2009, the joint venture was set up to offer bodies responsible for social housing and public buildings access to a wide range of frameworks.
 
The partnership has delivered great synergies for members of both organisations, offering a comprehensive procurement solution that drives efficiencies as well as compliance in a heightened regulatory regime.
 

Clive Feeney and Tracy Harrison
 
Key benefits of the collaborative approach, has been the joint purchasing power which has driven greater economies of scale and better value to the membership.
 
The frameworks are also supported by experienced technical specialists who provide advice from pre-tender stage to project completion, adding further value through customer care and project delivery.
 
Clive Feeney, divisional manager for LHC, believes the partnership is an innovative example of two like-minded organisations committed to helping members drive efficiencies and procure in a more compliant way.
 
“Collaboration has proven to be more successful than working in isolation for both LHC and NHC,” he said.
 
“When we first explored the partnership, LHC did not have any presence in the north of England and we were looking for a partner to enable us to engage with social housing providers in the region.
 
“With NHC there were clear synergies, however there wasn’t any overlap in our frameworks, and we recognised an opportunity to provide housing providers with a comprehensive procurement solution, covering both services and products.”
 
Consortium Procurement is the commercial services team of NHC, responsible for the development of business solutions to meet the needs of its membership.
 
Tracy Harrison, commercial director at NHC, believes the partnership has enabled both organisations to deliver robust and compliant frameworks that bring improvements to housing and significant community benefit.
 
A key example of this being a windows and doors replacement programme on behalf of City of York Council, which will cover 900 properties once completed.
 
Ms Harrison said: “Public procurement is heavily regulated and is a high area of risk for housing providers – our collaboration will enable us to offer a wider range of frameworks to our members to support with their procurement priorities.
 
“However procurement is only one aspect of our role – in protecting the interest of social housing providers, we have a wider remit in policy expertise and advising central government policy makers, allowing them to understand the role of housing providers in delivering affordable housing.”
 
The collaboration has been strengthened further recently, with the LHC appointment of Graeme Chater as a client support officer for north of England.
 
Graeme's role will involve developing the partnership with Consortium Procurement, by promoting LHC frameworks to NHC members.
 
LHC is also set to announce a number of collaborative frameworks that have been developed in response to the demands of the NHC membership.
 
“Both LHC and NHC are not for profit, which means we are able to invest in delivering social benefits and value for members,” said Mr Feeney.
 
“This strategic objective is reflected in the upcoming collaborative frameworks which have been developed following focused engagement with the membership.
 
“Unique to the market place, the frameworks respond the commercial and compliance requirements of housing providers, delivering value in an ever changing social and regulatory landscape.”

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