CWAG News Update - October 2020

CWAG News Update - October 2020

This update includes the following: 

·         CSR Dropped due to Covid pressures
·         Overview of recent publications


CSR Dropped due to Covid Pressures

On 21st October, the Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the cancellation of the three-year Comprehensive Spending Review due this Autumn. The Chancellor will instead set out a one-year spending plan focussed on the dealing with the immediate budgeting needs of departments tackling the pandemic.
The Treasury has indicated that existing long-term capital projects, such as HS2 and presumably the previously announced Affordable Housing Programme, will continue to be supported. There will also be budgetary commitments for health and education extending beyond 2021/22. However, other departments will only be offered single year budgets which afford little scope for longer term planning.
Overall, this is a setback for the social housing sector which has been making the case for significant additional investment in building new social housing as part of the post pandemic recovery plan.

Supported Housing – National Statement of Expectations

Published on 20th October, this guidance document is a collaboration between the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) and the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). It focusses on the accommodation element of supported housing providing guidance for local authorities, housing commissioners and providers.
Although the NSE guidance is non-statutory, it sets out government expectations around accommodation standards, quality, and value for money in terms of supported housing.
Addressing the central issue of ‘what good looks like’, the guidance discusses how this can be achieved from assessing local needs and planning effectively to meet demand through to ensuring accommodation is good quality and value for money.
The document is built around a wealth of best practice examples and case studies including the following from CWAG members:
·         Lewisham LB where the Council has been working with a select group of non-commissioned providers to ensure their services are of decent quality, are used efficiently and deliver positive outcomes.
·         Haringey LB where a review of supported housing across the borough led to the recommissioning of the youth homelessness pathway and older persons housing related services.  
·         Nottingham City Council which has developed ‘The Nottingham Way’ a Good Practice Standards Guide for the delivery of non-commissioned supported housing.

Ombudsman Report - Severe maladministration findings 2019/20

This report highlights 5 cases where complaints led to a finding of severe maladministration in 2019/20. For the first time, the report names the landlords involved which is part of the Ombudsman’s ongoing commitment to increased transparency.
Two cases involve lengthy delays in dealing with repairs, so residents were left in poor living conditions over long periods of time. Another case involved a group of 29 elderly residents who were not consulted as required by regulatory standards about support services being withdrawn. The other cases involved failure to respond to enquiries first by a resident and then by the Ombudsman over more than a year and failures that led a resident to believe their home benefitted from the preserved right to buy when this was not the case.

RSH – Coronavirus Operational Response Survey September 2020

This is the 6th monthly RSH survey assessing how registered providers are coping with the impact of Covid19 on their housing services. It covers the period up to 30th September 2020.
The majority of providers reported no issues with repairs delivery, and that backlogs in repairs and health and safety checks were continuing to improve overall. Gas safety compliance is approaching normal levels with only a small number of checks outstanding due to ongoing access issues.
On care and support, most providers continued to report no significant issues with staffing. Some providers have described emerging issues including increased levels of absence due to staff self-isolating in locations where the number of Covid-19 cases is high, and challenges working across areas with different restrictions in place.

Government Response to the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee Report on the long-term delivery of social and affordable rented housing

This document sets out the Government’s response to the  recommendations in the Select Committee Report ‘Building more social housing’ published in July 2020.
The Select Committee Report made 16 recommendations including a social housebuilding programme to rebuild the country from the impact of COVID-19, a  new definition of affordability linked to local incomes and retention of right to buy receipts by councils to fund like for like replacements.
The Government response is a restatement of current policy, offering little prospect of policy movement in the areas highlighted.

It’s not ok – a guide to tackling stigma in social housing – CIH

The ‘See the person’ campaign in conjunction with CIH has developed this guide for landlords and housing professionals. It highlights the ways landlords can inadvertently create and reinforce stigma and considers solutions along with examples of positive practice.

Download report