CWAG News Update August

August is traditionally a quiet month and this year is no exception, notwithstanding the changing ministerial personnel and endless pre-occupation with Brexit.
Boris Johnson’s first few weeks in office have provided only limited clues about the likely direction of housing policy. The outcome of the Green Paper is still awaited and many commentators have suggested that there will be a shift in policy towards home ownership initiatives. Statements confirming the government’s ongoing commitment to delivering affordable homes are positive as announcements of greater spending on infra structure. However, concerns remain that the recent policy shift in support of council housing by the Theresa May government may not be progressed.
 

Ministerial Changes

Robert Jenrick - MP for Newark in Nottinghamshire has been appointed Secretary of State for Housing at the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government MHCLG. He is a former Treasury Minister and becomes the youngest member of the Cabinet. He replaces James Brokenshire becoming the fifth person to hold this position since the 2015 election.

Ester McVey  - MP for Tatton in NW Cheshire becomes the sixth Housing Minister since the 2015 General Election. A former Minister of State for Work and Pensions, she replaces Kit Malthouse who has moved to the Home Office becoming Policing Minister.
Amber Rudd - Providing an element of continuity at the Department of Work and Pensions, Amber Rudd retains her positon as Secretary of State (a position she has held since November 2018).
 

Patching the Net – Measuring the Impact of Universal Credit – ARCH / NFA Universal Credit Survey

 ARCH and the NFA have published the results of their fourth Annual Welfare Reform Survey ‘Patching the Net – Measuring the Impact of Universal Credit’.
 The survey suggests that landlords are starting to come to terms with the rollout of Universal Credit (UC) and managing the impact for both tenants and rent accounts. However this is being achieved at significant financial and organisational cost.
 
Some key findings from the survey are:
 
·         Tackling UC arrears requires resource intensive interventions and ‘workarounds’ which are not scalable or cost effective as the number of households on UC grows.
·         Tenants on UC are still considerably more likely to be in arrears and to owe more but the position would be much worse without the considerable resources that landlords and the DWP have deployed to make the system workable.
·         67% of households on Universal Credit have arrears, owing seven weeks rent (£564) as compared with households on Housing Benefit where 21% have arrears, owing three weeks rent (£221).
·         32% of UC households in arrears did not have arears before moving to UC
·         27% of UC households are on APAs (Alternative Payment Arrangements)
 
This multi-year survey offers the opportunity to track the impact of the UC rollout over time. The survey was completed by 39 organisations, 24 of which have participated in each of the past three years. For these 24 tracked organisations, the total amount of arrears rose by 13% from 34.4 million in 2017 to £39 million in 2019. The percentage of UC households in arrears has decreased from 76% in 2017 to 66% in 2019; however the average amount owed per household has remained similar.
 

Changes to the CWAG Website

We recently made some changes to the CWAG website aimed at simplifying access and improving the user experience. There is now an overview page in the members’ area which highlights recent changes and additions and offers more streamlined access.
Please check out the changes and send feedback to cwag.info@manchester.gov.uk
 

CWAG Annual General Meeting

The AGM this year will take place on Friday 27th September 2019 at the Offices of the LGA, Smith Square, Westminster.
 In preparation for the AGM, please return nomination forms for the Executive Group by 30th August 2019. The detailed programme for the day will be circulated shortly.
 

New in the Library 

Responses to the recent MHCLG consultation ‘Building a safer future’ are available via the Knowledge Hub here
 

Recent Publications

Two recent reports have focussed on the housing issues of an ageing population:
·         Rental Housing for an Ageing Population – This is an All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) Report highlighting the looming housing affordability problems facing generation rent as they hit retirement.
·         A Home for the Ages – Planning for the future with age friendly design - A RIBA publication looking at the challenge of developing age friendly housing that will enable people to play a more active role in their communities resulting in healthier and happier lives. 
 
Final report of the Great Places Commission (NHF) - The Commission visited towns and cities across the North and Midlands and the report makes 10 recommendations for partnership working between housing associations, national and local government to create thriving and successful places.
 
Tackling the Housing Crisis: is supply the answer? Ian Mulheirn – This report from the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change a think tank specialising in economic research and policy design challenges the narrative that an increase in supply is the solution to the housing crisis. The report focuses on reversing the loss of social housing stock, ending housing benefit cuts and improving wage growth for young people to tackle affordability problems in the rented sector.
 
 
 
 
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