CWAG News Update - September

CWAG News Update - September

This update includes the following:

·         Executive Members Wanted!
·         Fire Safety Act Commencement Preparation
·         LGA Future Foundations Housing Campaign
·         Joint CWAG / NFA Seminar – 22nd September 2021
·         CWAG Annual General Meeting - 28th September 2021
·         New in the library/ recent releases

Executive Members Wanted!

Day to day management of CWAG is undertaken by the Executive Group. This group is drawn from and elected by the membership at the Annual General Meeting. Detailed operating arrangements are set out in the Terms of Reference.
The Executive has an essential role in the management of CWAG; responsible for directing activities and setting the work priorities of the policy officer.
The current Executive Group is below full strength due to the recent loss of long-standing Executive members from Gateshead and Manchester when their councils brought management back in house. In addition, Ceri Davies, the current Chair has indicated that she will be standing down at the AGM as she is moving to a new job. CWAG is therefore actively seeking to recruit to these positions.
Ideally the Executive Group should be made up of six Executive members, in addition to the Chair and the representative of the Lead Authority.
Current CWAG Executive Group Members are:
Ceri Davies – Chair – Nottingham City Council (standing down at the AGM)
Joy Ashman– Executive Member – Cornwall Council
Fiona Dodsworth – Executive Member – Newcastle City Council
Anna Milner – Executive Member –South Tyneside Council
Michael Moncrieff – Executive Member – Lewisham Council
Membership is not onerous and confers benefits in terms of personal and organisational development as well as the opportunity to gain access to a range of policy meetings and debates.
Typically, Executive membership involves:
·         Attendance at Executive Meetings.  There are usually four meetings in any 12-month period. In the past year meetings have been held via Teams which has worked extremely well and is likely to continue.
·         Oversight of a particular area of work. This involves acting as the point of contact for the Policy Officer on a particular topic or element of the work programme.
·         Opportunities to represent CWAG at various meetings with other stakeholders.
If you have any questions or would like an informal discussion about the various roles and what is involved, please contact either Ceri Davies, or Alison Freeman  

Fire Safety Act Commencement Preparation

The Local Government Association has been pressing the Home Office to hold early discussions on the arrangements for the imposition of new duties on local authority ‘responsible persons’ under the Fire Safety Act 2021.
There is an opportunity for sector representatives to meet with Home Office officials before regulations / timescales etc are finalised. The objective is to provide the Home Office with feedback around practical implementation issues, such as how long it will take responsible persons to get up and running with lift inspections fire door inspections etc.
If you have any views on timescales or related implementation issues, please contact the Policy Officer so CWAG can feedback any issues and concerns.

LGA Future Foundations Housing Campaign

At the CWAG General Meeting in May Christina Kaiser from the LGA outlined a new LGA initiative to generate positive housing related content.
Working with partners from across the local authority housing sector this initiative will showcase good practice and demonstrate that local government is at the heart of housing solutions that ensure every part of the country has access to good quality affordable housing.
The Future Foundations webpages linked to this project are now live.
The LGA will be commissioning a series of videos to showcase positive stories and social housing case studies, including:
·         how it can help to reduce homelessness
·         how it can help to provide people with safe secure homes
·         how it can help improve living standards, the local environment, and the impact that has on health and wellbeing
·         how it can help boost the local economy in terms of jobs created, and opportunities it brings to local areas etc
Please contribute and share your authority’s positive stories and case studies, as well as ideas for think pieces or suggestions or potential interviewees using the online form.
All ideas are welcome!

Joint CWAG / NFA Seminar – 22nd September 2021

A joint CWAG / NFA seminar ‘Ready for Regulation? Council and ALMO relationships in the new regulatory framework’ will update members on the progress with the joint CWAG / NFA Smart Clienting Project.
The seminar will focus on the relationship between local authorities and ALMOs, how local authorities ‘client’ their ALMO and ensure excellent services for residents, and preparing for the new regulatory environment, including the new accountable person roles. It will be an opportunity to learn from others as well as ask questions and share your own experience.
The programme includes:
·         Kate Dodsworth, Director of Consumer Regulation at the Regulator of Social Housing
·         Chloe Fletcher, NFA and Ceri Davies, CWAG, presenting on the new joint clienting toolkit being prepared to assist local authorities and ALMOs with the new landscape.
·         Local authority and ALMO best practice case studies, showing effective clienting and preparations for the new consumer regulation and building safety bill
·         The voice of residents, looking at how ALMOs listen to the voice of residents and how local authorities assure themselves that this is happening
·         A constructive challenge to close the seminar from Alistair McIntosh, HQN Chief Executive
In addition to those who normally attend CWAG meetings we are keen to encourage wider attendance including local authority strategic directors of housing and lead members for housing, officers involved in local authority clienting teams, ALMO board members, engaged tenants and ALMO Chief Officers.
The seminar will take place on WebEx between 9.30am and 13.00pm on 22nd September 2021. Places are free and numbers are not restricted.

CWAG Annual General Meeting – 22nd September 2021

The theme of this year’s AGM is ‘Meeting the housing challenge of the post pandemic recovery’. To discuss this, we have an expert panel drawn from across the housing sector including:
·         Alistair McIntosh – Chief Executive of HQN
·         Cym D’Souza - Chair of BMENational the umbrella group for BME housing associations which aims to promote equality and diversity in the provision of housing and support services.
·         Tom Murtha – Housing expert, blogger and commentator
Each speaker will discuss the issues which for them are top of the housing agenda as we emerge from the pandemic. Following the presentations there will be a question time panel discussion covering both issues arising from the presentations and questions from the audience.
The AGM will take place over Teams between 9.30am and 12.30pm.
There are no restrictions on the number of council colleagues who can attend. Please let the policy officer know who is planning to attend from your authority to ensure everyone receives papers and the meeting link.

New in the Library / Recent Releases

CWAG response to LGA request for feedback for submission at Committee Stage. In particular, CWAG members requested greater clarity around the Accountable Person and Building Safety Manager roles.

This latest insight report covers the period April – June 2021 and includes a regional focus on the South-East and South-West. The report flags up a large increase in complaint volumes which may represent a ’new normal’ as more people are aware of and using the service. The six case studies have been chosen to provide wider insights and learning on complaints generally. There is also an example of the Ombudsman’s mediation service which can provide a speedier route for resolving issues.