CWAG News Update - March 2019

 This update includes the following topics:  

  • Changes to Rent Regulation
  • Update from the Consumer Standards Working Group
  • 53 Mondays and Universal Credit
  • Addison Act Commemorations
  • Recent Publications / New in the Library 

 This update includes the following topics:  

 

  • Changes to Rent Regulation
  • Update from the Consumer Standards Working Group
  • 53 Mondays and Universal Credit
  • Addison Act Commemorations
  • Recent Publications / New in the Library 

 

Changes to Rent Regulation

 

The government has recently published the response to its consultation on social housing rents. This and the accompanying Policy Statement confirm that the government will implement the approach as set out in the initial consultation last September.

This involves:
  • Capping annual rent increases up to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation plus 1% for at least five years from April 2020.
  • Bringing local authority registered providers within the scope of the Regulator’s rent standard, where previously only housing association rents had been regulated in this way.
 The Regulator will now consult on and publish a new Rent Standard. As a result, council rents will for the first time fall within the scope of one of the Regulator’s economic standards and be subject to regulation on broadly the same basis as housing association rents. Regulation will involve the Regulator collecting and analysing rental data to identify outliers and seek assurance that all providers are complying with the requirements of the standard.
 
The new regime will come into effect in April 2020. In advance of this the Regulator has written to all stock owning councils seeking expressions of interest from councils wishing to take part in a voluntary pilot during 2019/20 which will help inform the arrangements for moving onto the new system next year.
 
 

 Update from the Consumer Standards Project Group

 
Back in November, the News Update reported on the setting up of a new cross sector project group interested in developing performance measures and indicators, in line with the objectives in the Social Housing Green Paper, to make reporting of landlord performance data more transparent and accessible to tenants.
 
The membership of the project group continues to grow and now includes representatives from CWAG, ARCH, National Federation of ALMOs, National Housing Federation, Chartered Institute of Housing, Housing Ombudsman, Local Government Association, HouseMark, G15 & G320 Group of housing associations and the Tenant Participation Advisory Service.
 
The last meeting covered some important ground, not least in trying to define whether its main purpose was to examine and recommend the framework for reporting, escalation and action between the various agencies involved, or whether it was to develop the PIs that tenants want or find useful – it was decided it was a mixture of the two.
 
Consensus was that tenants and residents would likely be more focussed on their area or neighbourhood rather than the national performance of their landlord or whether they were a RP or council, although it would be necessary to make it clear who they could contact and any difference in the routes they would need to take depending on their tenure.
 
There was interest in the Greater Nottingham Standard which aims to have all social housing providers sign up to a basic level of service in Nottingham, regardless of the amount of stock they hold or where their headquarters are, a sort of neighbourhood standard agreement.
 
In terms of indicators, the basics about repairs and the like all stayed in, but there was more discussion around the softer measures of tenant engagement with  the landlord and whether tenants felt listened to, valued or had their views genuinely take into account. Much of this was around phrasing and trying to draw out a representative response.
 
TPAS has organised two round table events in London and Manchester to road test the draft indicators and questions. Housemark is also looking to link this up with a toolkit/dashboard that stakeholders could use. Feedback will be presented to the next meeting of the project group on the 28th March.
 
CWAG Contact on the Consumer Standards Project Group – Ceri Davies Ceri.Davies@nottinghamcity.gov.uk
 
 

53 Mondays and Universal Credit

 
The recent DWP Universal Credit Landlord Engagement Newsletter provides an explanation of the problems facing tenants whose rent is paid weekly but who receive Universal Credit monthly. Whilst the DWP has now acknowledged that there is an issue with the calculation used to convert a weekly liability into a monthly allowance, the issue remains unresolved as the DWP is still considering how to respond. 
 
 

Using the Addison Act centenary to celebrate the wider achievements of council housing

 

CWAG recently met with officials from MHCLG along with colleagues from the NFA and ARCH. The sector is keen to use the Addison Act centenary to maximise the positive messages about council housing and its wider contribution to improving peoples’ lives.
The Addison Act in July 1919 was a landmark piece of legislation that initiated the building of the first council houses, popularly termed ‘homes for heroes,’ in the aftermath of World War 1. MHCLG is keen to join with the sector in using the Addison Act as an opportunity to increase the positive news stories and messages about council housing.
 
This reflects a wider shift within government with Ministers and officials keen to be associated and endorse the positive contribution of the sector and celebrate new build by councils and other community initiatives.
 
You don’t need to have properties built under the auspices of the Addison Act to join in the commemorations. If you are aware of positive news stories around social housing, community initiatives, start on sites, ‘topping out’ events, scheme openings or similar, please let us know so we can put your comms team in touch with the relevant officials within MHCLG who will work with you to widen the positive publicity.
 
We are hoping for a flow of lots of positive news stories spanning the whole year. The aim is to link these together under the general theme of Addison Act commemorations.
 
Please contact me with details of any relevant events that could be used to increase the positive media messages around council housing.
 
 

Recent Publications / New in the Library

 
  • Homes (Fitness for Habitation ) Act 2018 – Guidance for tenants, landlords and local authorities
           The government has issued guidance for tenants, landlords and local authorities on their rights and responsibilities under the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018.
           The Act comes into force from 20th march 2019
 
  • Saving Through Social Rents – An assessment of building 100,000 social rent homes annually between 1997 and 2017 – Cambridge Economics Report for the LGA
            The report sets out and provides costings around a possible alternative historic scenario, based on building 100,000 social rented homes  a year over a ten year period between 1997 and 2017.  
            The resulting data underlines the compelling economic and social case for investing in social housing.
 
 
  • Chancellor’s Spring Statement – 13th March 2019 – Key Points
 
 
 
 
 

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