CWAG News Update - October 2021

CWAG News Update - October 2021

This update includes the following: 

·         Fire Safety Update
·         Bids invited for LGA Housing Advisers Programme
·         Joint CWAG / NFA Seminar – 22nd September 2021
·         CWAG Annual General Meeting - 28th September 2021
·         New in the library/ recent releases
 

Fire Safety Update

The Fire Safety Act 2021 received Royal Assent in April. Implementation arrangements will be set out in secondary legislation, namely Regulations and associated guidance to be issued by the Home Office.
The implementation timetable envisages that the Fire Safety Act Regulations will be laid before Parliament before the end of October with a commencement date of April 2022. 
These regulations will place significant obligations on landlords of high-rise and multi-occupied residential buildings including:
 
Information Sharing - Landlords will need to identify a ‘Responsible Person’ who will be required to share information with the local fire and rescue service including evacuation plans and technical information on the building design and materials used in external walls and common parts (including ‘doors and windows’ and ‘anything attached to the exterior of those walls (including balconies)’. This information will be provided both electronically and as a hard copy in a secure information box on site.
Inspection of fire doors - Landlords of multi-occupied residential buildings above 11 meters will be required to carry out quarterly checks of all fire doors in common areas. There will also be a requirement to check individual flat entrance doors annually.
Inspection of lifts and firefighting equipment – Monthly checks will be required on firefighting equipment and lifts intended for use by firefighters with new requirements in terms of reporting of faults and defects.
Evacuation Plans – Landlords will be required to ensure evacuation plans are reviewed and regularly updated. More information is awaited on Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans (PEEPs) for residents whose ability to evacuate may be compromised.
The Home Office consultation PEEPS closed on 11th July 2021 and further guidance is awaited on this.
 

Draft Fire Safety Guidance

The Home Office is currently overhauling guidance for the Fire Safety Order (FSO). The consultancy C.S.Todd & Associates has been commissioned to draft a series of guides designed for Responsible Persons to understand their duties under the FSO.
The Home Office is keen to receive feedback on these guides which have been circulated in draft for comment as follows:
 
 
Feedback is sought on whether these guides are easy to understand, inform Responsible Persons on how to discharge their duties and are technically correct. The closing date for responses is Friday 5 November 2021.
Several MS Teams sessions are also planned to provide an opportunity for verbal feedback and discussion on this guidance, if you would be interested in attending, please contact the Policy Officer for further details.
 

Bids invited for LGA Housing Advisers Programme  

This innovative programme is part of the LGA’s sector-led improvement offer and is designed to support councils and their communities address local housing challenges in a simple and flexible way.
The programme awards up to £20,000 to successful applicants for the provision of bespoke expert support to councils – or groups of councils. To date 125 projects have been supported, delivering tangible outcomes for communities.
The HAP is an excellent source of knowledge and expertise, enabling councils to share innovative ideas and ways to improve, whether building new homes, tackling homelessness, or planning thriving and flourishing places and economies.
 For more information about the Housing Advisers Programme, and how to apply for the 2021/22 cohort, please visit www.local.gov.uk/housingadvisersprogramme or email housingadvisers@local.gov.uk
 The deadline for applications is 15 November 2021.
 

Ready for Regulation? CWAG / NFA Joint Seminar

On 22nd September CWAG and the NFA hosted a joint seminar as part of the ongoing Smart Clienting Project. The seminar was attended by 85 delegates from across councils and ALMOs as well as representatives from the Regulator of Social Housing, the Housing Ombudsman and the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.
 
Kate Dodsworth the newly appointed director of Consumer Regulation opened the seminar with an overview of the implications of the Social Housing White Paper and the changing regulatory approach. Landlords were encouraged not to wait for legislation but to drive positive changes in resetting the landlord tenant relationship.
The implications for councils and ALMOs were examined in more detail by subsequent speakers along with case studies highlighting some of the excellent practice that already exists within the sector.
Alistair McIntosh gave the final presentation challenging the sector to deliver excellent services and setting out six key challenges including financial constraints, improving governance and productivity, listening to residents and front- line staff.
 
The meeting was recorded so if you missed part or all of the event, you can access a recording of the event here: https://almos.webex.com/almos/ldr.php?RCID=cdc392cbc9fecfb69ed6c6f4c13911b0
The presentation slides are available here
 

CWAG Annual General Meeting

The theme of this year’s AGM ‘Meeting the housing challenge of the post pandemic recovery’. Following initial presentations, the panel of housing experts took part in a lively question time discussion covering diverse issues including whether housing providers should be paring back on newbuild programmes to focus on existing stock and practical ways to evaluate the front-line tenant experience of your organisation.
The meeting minutes also provide the latest financial and organisational update on the group.
 

New in the Library / Recent Releases

Building safety reform – Early key messages
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has published guidance intended to help those responsible for the safety of high-rise buildings to prepare for changes in building safety law to be brought in as part of the Building Safety Bill. This document outlines the new approach proposed for England and is the outcome of collaborative work with the Early Adopter organisations.
 
Fire Safety Project Material from Camden Council
Camden Council is part of the Early Adopters Group for fire safety and at the CWAG General Meeting in July Melissa Dillon set out the authority’s approach and progress to date. Camden has now shared their recently agreed Charter and other material which may be helpful to others working on this issue.
 
How to achieve net zero carbon homes
This toolkit has been funded as part of the Housing Advisers Programme (see bidding information above) and is a collaboration between three local authorities. This toolkit aims to make Net Zero carbon new build and retrofit more accessible. It is intended for use by building professionals (developers, contractors, architects and engineers) and is also relevant to self -builders, planning officers and other housing professionals.
 
RSH Consumer Regulation Review 2020/21
This annual review highlights key themes and interesting case studies arising from the Regulator’s case work in the past year.  Casework continues to demonstrate the importance of:
·         meeting health and safety requirements and ensuring tenants’ homes are safe
·         effective communication with tenants, taking into account their diverse needs
·         learning from tenant complaints, and the need for registered providers to hear the messages tenants are giving them
·         planning to implement the White Paper, taking steps now to strengthen engagement with tenants and improve services.