CWAG News Update - December 2021

CWAG News Update - December 2021

This update includes the following: 
·         CWAG Organisational Update
·         CWAG / NFA Report - Excellence in Management and Partnership
·         Smoke Alarms to become a legal requirement in social housing
·         Homelessness and the Homeful Campaign
·         Future Meeting Date
·         Recent Publications

CWAG Organisational Update

Following the Annual General Meeting in September, the Executive Group met to agree who should take over as Chair following the resignation of Ceri Davies who has moved to a new job and unable to continue in the role.
Following this meeting we are pleased to announce that the new CWAG Chair is Anna Milner, Operations Manager Housing Strategy at South Tyneside Council. Anna has been part of the Executive Group since 2017 and a longstanding supporter of the group. On taking up the position Anna was keen to acknowledge the contribution made by the Ceri who has held the position since 2019.
‘On behalf of the Executive group and wider membership, I would like to thank Ceri for all her hard work as Chair in promoting and raising the profile of the group. Ceri has been particularly keen to develop a wider understanding of the council role in the ALMO management model and had a key role in delivering the joint CWAG / NFA report ‘Excellence in Management and Partnership’ with its focus on dialogue and partnership working in delivering effective assurance through the client role.
The Annual General Meeting also confirmed the re-election of Fiona Dodsworth (Newcastle City Council) and Joy Ashman (Cornwall Council) to the Executive Group, as well as the new election of Geoff Beales (Colchester BC) and Tim Holland (Southend on Sea BC).
Opportunity to join the CWAG Executive Group
More recently, a vacancy has arisen on the Executive Group as Michael Moncrieff (London Borough of Lewisham) is moving on to a new job. Our thanks to Michael for his contribution and support and best wishes in the new job. Anyone interested in joining the CWAG Executive please contact the Policy Officer. 
Move to a new Administrative Authority
Work is ongoing to complete the transfer of the Administrative Authority role from Manchester City Council to Nottingham City Council. This involves the TUPE of the Policy Officer and transfer of financial oversight and the CWAG account. We will keep members updated on this progress.

CWAG / NFA Report ‘Excellence in Management and Partnership’

This CWAG / NFA report follows a year-long joint project examining council-ALMO management structures and relationships.
The report reviews the various models of management, partnership and assurance that have evolved between parent councils and their ALMOs and concludes that these are not only flexible and responsive to local circumstances but also well-suited to the challenges of more pro-active consumer regulation.
A key objective of the report is to provide examples and context to inform conversations between local authorities and their ALMOs on the key areas of performance, assurance, and compliance. A toolkit checklist is also included to help track compliance in nine key areas across resident engagement, performance monitoring, audit and risk management, and health & safety.

Smoke alarms to become a legal requirement in social housing

On 23rd November 2021 the government announced the introduction of new rules requiring the provision of smoke alarms in all social rented homes (already a mandatory requirement in the private rented sector).
In addition, carbon monoxide alarms must also be fitted in social and private accommodation in any room with a fixed combustion appliance, such as a gas boiler or fire (but excluding gas cookers).
These reforms follow a consultation exercise in 2020 and subsequent commitments made in the Social Housing White Paper earlier this year.
Reforms will be brought forward through the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 and the statutory guidance (Approved Document J) supporting Part J of the Building Regulations with the implementation date as soon as practicable after the regulations are made. The cost of complying with the new requirements will fall to the property owners.

Homelessness and the Homeful Campaign

On 8th December Professor Jo Richardson met with CWAG members to discuss homelessness and the Homeful Campaign. Jo is the current President of the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) and Associate Dean and Professor of Housing and Social Research at De Montford University
Jo began her presentation by outlining her background and how in her passion for housing was sparked when she volunteered with a homelessness organisation in New York as a student in 1991. The experience made a lasting impression, particularly conversations with young people whose lives and aspirations were scarred by homelessness. The result was a positive decision to pursue a career in social housing.
Jo has been a member of CIH since 1995 and now as CIH President she is heading up the ‘Homeful Campaign’. The title is derived from two words ‘home’ and ‘hopeful.’ This is an action research project that aims to move beyond identifying and quantifying the problem to focus on the solution through practical and effective housing led approaches to tackling homelessness. It is also a collaborative project that aims to engage not just those working in social housing but also tenants, those with experience of homelessness and other interested agencies and stakeholders.
The campaign has three distinct elements:
·         A survey of all local authorities looking at learning from the pandemic and going forward what more we can do. The questionnaires will be going out in January with a 6 week turn around
·         Survey link to capture the views of tenants
·         Fundraising campaign called 22/22 with money raised focussed on young people and homelessness.
Inspired by the book ‘The Salt Path’ by Raynor Wynn, Jo is planning to walk the 630 miles of the SW Coastal Path; a real personal challenge, and she admits one that she isn’t sure she will be able to achieve. Jo encouraged everyone to join in the campaign, perhaps by joining her for part of the walk or other fundraising. See the CIH Homeful webpage for more details.

CWAG Meeting Date

The next CWAG Meeting will be a Finance and Business Planning Meeting on held on Tuesday 25th January 2022 (timing 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.) 
Steve Partridge - Savills Director of Housing Consultancy will lead this event which will focus on current finance and business planning issues affecting the sector. The meeting will be of particular interest to finance officers, and anyone involved in HRA strategy and business planning.
 The event is open to CWAG members - to book a place, please contact the Policy Officer.

Recent Publications

This paper sets out the Regulator’s initial thinking on how they will approach implementing the changes to regulation set out in the Social Housing White Paper. The introduction of proactive consumer regulation is still some way off as the new regime will require legislation, however this document confirms that the overall approach remains co-regulatory, proportionate, risk- and assurance-based, focussed on high level outcomes rather than prescriptive requirements.
The new regime for consumer regulation will promote safe homes and quality landlord services under six broad themes: safety, quality, neighbourhood, transparency, engagement and accountability and tenancy.
The latest Housing Ombudsman quarterly Insight report covers the period July to September 2021 and confirms that the volume of enquiries and complaints to the service is continuing to increase. Each quarter the report focusses on data and case studies from a specific region – in this case Greater London. Case studies include several noise related complaints and the potential to use mediation services for this category of complaint. The report also highlights that it is not unusual for investigations to find that landlords responded to well to the substantive issue, but their complaint handling fell short causing further distress and inconvenience for residents.