CWAG News Update May 2021

CWAG News Update May 2021

This update includes the following:  

• Next CWAG General meeting - ALMO Clienting
• Housing Ombudsman to investigate damp and mould issues.
• Fire Safety Act 2021
• Recent Government releases
• Future CWAG Meetings - Timetable 2021

Next CWAG General Meeting - ALMO Clienting – 19th May 2021 

The next CWAG General Meeting will focus on ALMO Clienting issues. 
The meeting will take place via Teams on Wednesday 19th May 2021 (9.30 - 11.30 a.m.) 
The Housing White Paper and recent regulatory judgements have highlighted the wider responsibilities of local authority landlords. Risks for councils are rising resulting in an increasing focus on ALMO clienting. Many councils are reviewing their clienting arrangements to ensure these reflect changes to regulation and deliver an appropriate level of oversight and assurance. 
Jonathan Walters, Deputy Chief Executive at the Regulator of Social Housing, will introduce the clienting discussion with a brief overview of the purpose and expectations of the Regulator. Jonathan will also give an update on the timetable for formalising new structures and regulatory arrangements. This will be followed by presentation of member case studies and a wider discussion of current clienting issues.
The meeting will also seek feedback from CWAG members for the Smart Clienting Project, a joint piece of work with the National Federation of ALMOs that aims to showcase best practice and identify how clienting arrangements can be strengthened to deliver increased regulatory assurance.
For further details, and to book a place, please contact the Policy Officer.

Housing Ombudsman to investigate damp and mould issues.

The revised Housing Ombudsman scheme introduced in September last year included new powers to carry out detailed investigations where systemic issues are identified which generate high complaint volumes and impact negatively on residents across the sector.
With a remit extending beyond the resolution of individual disputes and complaints, these new powers are intended to support a tougher more proactive Housing Ombudsman Service focussed on promoting a culture of learning and openness, which delivers real improvements in service delivery for residents.
The first in depth investigation will look into damp and mould issues in the sector. This reflects the high of cases that feature damp and mould (112 cases in the past two years) and the significant proportion of case determinations found to involve maladministration (55%).
The damp and mould investigation aims to make recommendations and share best practice to help landlords develop services and improve the experience of residents.
The Call for Evidence asks for feedback on the following 5 questions:
1. What do you consider to be the main cause(s) of damp and mould?
2. Are the root causes of damp and mould difficult to identify? And if so, why?
3. Are the root causes of damp and mould difficult to address? And if so, why?
4. While damp and mould issues are being looked into, what support is offered to residents to ensure they are able to live in a hygienic environment?
5. Has a particular damp and mould situation led to significant changes in the way in which a landlord operates? If so, please provide details.
Closing date for responses is Friday 4 June 2021.  

Fire Safety Act 2021

On 29th April 2021, the Fire Safety Bill finally completed its passage through Parliament and received Royal Assent.
The Fire Safety Act amends the Fire Safety Order 2005, and along with the draft Building Safety Bill, is part of a collection of new legislation that aims to tackle the recommendations of the Grenfell Public Inquiry. 
The Act requires building owners or managers in multi-occupied residential buildings to have a risk assessment relating to the building’s structure, external walls and common parts, and take precautions to reduce the risk of fire. As a result, Fire and Rescue Authorities will have enhanced enforcement powers to hold building owners and managers to account. 
The legislation has been drafted to allow MHCLG to amend the Fire Safety Order if necessary, to include other types of buildings, and to action future recommendations from the Grenfell Inquiry.
The passage of the Fire Safety Act subject to repeated ‘ping pong’ as the Government resisted repeated attempts by Peers in the House of Lords to amend the legislation with a clause preventing remediation costs, such as dangerous cladding, fire doors and insulation systems, from being passed on to leaseholders.
The new Act will not come into force immediately as there is a requirement for detailed risk-based guidance to be published to enable implementation. This may not be until the end of 2021 or the beginning of 2022 and will link up with measures in the Building Safety Bill currently before Parliament.


Government Releases


Social Housing Lettings: April 2019 to March 2020, England – April 2021 Update (MHCLG)

This report provides a position statement tracking the ongoing long-term reduction in the number of new social lettings in England. In 2019/20 there were a total of 306,00 new social lettings, a
reduction of 8,000 or 2.5% on the previous year. The report includes a detailed breakdown by region and property type as well as providing information on those housed, employment levels and rent burden as a proportion of household income. Download Report

MHCLG announces independent review into the system for testing safety of construction products.

The review will examine how to strengthen the current system for testing construction products to provide confidence that these materials are safe and perform as marketed. It is part of the government’s ongoing programme of work to reform and strengthen building safety regulation and comes after testimony to the Grenfell Tower Inquiry exposed evidence of testing irregularities and potential gaming of the system by some manufacturers. Further details

The SRS landlord and tenant court user guides have been updated.

 Both sets of guidance have been updated to reflect changes to clinically extremely vulnerable tenants who are no longer advised to shield.

Future CWAG Meetings - Draft Timetable 2021

The timetable of future CWAG meetings this year is as follows:
- Wednesday 19th May 2021 – General Meeting
- Wednesday 14th July 2021 – General Meeting (interim)
- Tuesday 28th September 2021 – Annual General Meeting
- Thursday 18th November 2021 – General Meeting (interim)
- Tuesday 18th January 2022 – Finance Meeting
- Thursday 17th March 2022 – General Meeting
Note – We are currently working on the basis of continuing to hold most meeting over Teams. The exception is the Annual General Meeting where we are exploring the option combining face to face and on-line options. Updated will be posted on the CWAG website