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Policy update


Pledge to tackle domestic abuse

More than 150 housing organisations from all over the UK have signed up to a campaign to tackle domestic abuse promoted by the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH).

Launched in partnership with Women’s Aid and the Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance, Make a Stand calls on housing organisations to make four commitments.

These are to put in place policies on domestic abuse for their residents and their staff, publish information on local and national domestic abuse services and appoint someone in the organisation at a senior level to lead on the work. Speaking at CIH conference in Manchester in June, CIH president Alison Inman called the response ‘truly amazing’.

She said:

‘We are legally required to have policies on all sorts of things, like allocations and anti-social behaviour, but incredibly not domestic abuse. Allocations and anti-social behaviour are not killing two women a week – domestic abuse is. We should all have a policy and we should make sure our teams have the skills and training to make sure they can identify, report and deal with cases of domestic abuse.’


More private blocks found with unsafe cladding

The government has doubled its estimate of the number of private residential tower blocks in England that are believed to have unsafe cladding.

In the June data release from its Building Safety Programme, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government says that a total of 470 high-rise buildings have Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) cladding systems that are unlikely to meet current Building Regulations guidance.

That comprises 314 that have already failed large-scale wall system tests – 159 social housing blocks, 141 private housing blocks and 14 publicly owned buildings – plus a further 156 private blocks that have been identified by local authorities as having similar ACM systems.

This compares with a total of 159 social housing blocks and 138 private blocks identified in the May data release. As at June 20, remediation work had started on 111 of the 159 social housing buildings (70 per cent) and been completed on 15.

But work had started on just 21 of the 297 private buildings (7 per cent) and had only been finished on four.

Housing secretary James Brokenshire announced a new taskforce to oversee remediation work in the private sector and a new inspection team backed by £1 million of government funding plus letters to building owners to remind them of their responsibilities.

He said:

‘I have been clear that leaseholders should be protected from unfair costs and we expect the industry to do the right thing. If they don’t, I will continue to explore other routes and I am not ruling anything out.’

Earlier in June, the MHCLG published a consultation on banning combustible cladding through the Building Regulations.


Sprinklers to be compulsory in new social housing

The Scottish Government will legislate to make sprinkler systems compulsory in new social housing.

Housing minister Kevin Stewart
said that Holyrood would take forward a members’ bill proposed by David Stewart MSP to make sprinklers a legal requirement.

At the moment all new residential buildings with a floor over 18m must have automatic fire suppression systems fitted, whether they are social or private.

Kevin Stewart said:

‘This is an opportunity to further improve standards in our social housing and this work will be taken forward alongside the recommendations of the two reviews of building standards and fire safety which we will consult on later this summer.’

Expanding the use of sprinklers in Houses in Multiple Occupation that are used as care homes or house more than 10 people is one of the recommendations that will be consulted on soon.


Report highlights mixed tenure potential

Mixed tenure housing development can deliver major social benefits for Northern Ireland, according to a new report produced in collaboration between the Department for Communities and Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations.

Mainstreaming Mixed Tenure Development in Northern Ireland – the way forward for developing homes?is intended to stimulate discussion and inform the debate about how the housing can go forward.

NIFHA chief executive Ben Collins said:

‘What this report shows is that mixed-tenure development has the potential to deliver wider social benefits, including tackling disadvantage and segregation. While it is not a panacea for all social problems and cannot deliver positive outcomes without other complementary policy initiatives, it nevertheless provides a strong foundation for these to succeed.’

The report is available at www.nifha. org/wp-content/uploads/MTR-FINAL- Hi-Res-single-page-070618.pdf

Welsh Government

New task and finish group on homelessness

A new group to tackle youth homelessness and oversee the innovative Housing First approach has been announced by the Welsh Government.

The group will be chaired by housing and regeneration minister Rebecca Evans and include the deputy director of housing, director of social services and integration, director of mental health and NHS governance and deputy director of the support for learners from Welsh Government. It will also include representatives from the Welsh Local Government Association, Public Health Wales, Youth Justice Board Cymru, the police, Community Housing Cymru, Residential Landlords Association, End Youth Homelessness Cymru. Rough Sleepers Cymru, Housing First Network, National Supported Provider Network, academics, a youth worker (nominated via Youth Workers Reference Group) and an outreach worker (nominated via Rough Sleeping Cymru).

Rebecca Evans said:

‘Through this group we will ensure that across government and beyond, in areas such as social services, education, mental health, substance misuse and youth justice, we have a unified approach to prevention, and to supporting young people who are homeless to obtain somewhere safe and secure to live. The group will also advise on the implementation of the Housing First approach across Wales, including evaluation.’

Bill will ban letting agent fees to tenants

A new Welsh Government Bill banning fees charged in the private rented sector will make things simpler and fairer for tenants, promised housing minister Rebecca Evans.

The Renting Homes (Fees etc.) (Wales) Bill will ensure tenants are no longer charged for an accompanied viewing, receiving an inventory, signing a contract, or renewing a tenancy. It will only allow letting agents and landlords to charge fees relating
to rent, security deposits, holding deposits, or when a tenant breaches a contract.

The enforcement regime will allow for fixed penalty notices to be issued against anyone requiring a prohibited payment; if penalties are not paid local authorities will be able to prosecute offences through the Magistrates Court. Convictions for an offence could result in an unlimited fine and will be taken into account by Rent Smart Wales when considering whether to grant or renew a licence.

A consultation found that 91 per cent of tenants had been charged fees to rent properties. Where fees were charged, the average was £249 to start a tenancy, £108 to renew a tenancy and £142 at the end of a tenancy.

£75m boost for Integrated care fund

A £10 million a year fund will be boosted to £105 million over three years to help deliver more joined- up care closer to home and help build homes to support people to live independently in their own communities. Housing and regeneration minister Rebecca Evans and minister for children, older people and social care Huw Irranca-Davies made the announcement during a visit to an Extra Care housing and care scheme being built in Maesteg.

The Integrated Care Fund, set up to support the integration of health, social care and housing, will receive a £75 million boost over three years, in a bid to create more large-scale housing which integrates social care as well as other innovative approaches to the integration of health and social care. This capital funding is in addition to the £50 million revenue element of the fund announced in April.

Huw Irranca-Davies said:

‘This significant increase in funding will help to deliver more projects that help people to live the lives they want to lead, while meeting their healthcare, or social care needs. Crucially, it will also help ensure that people can be discharged to appropriate support when they no longer need a hospital bed, freeing up NHS resources.’


Melin wins first QED Award

Melin Homes has become the first housing association in Wales in receive an award recognising its equality and diversity impact.

The QED Award from Tai Pawb is a comprehensive, Wales-specific accreditation and framework for reviewing and improving the equality and diversity impact of an organisation across governance, services, access, involvement and culture.

Melin Homes was the first organisation to sign up when Tai Pawb launched QED in 2017. The two organisations originally worked together to develop the award by utilising Tai Pawb’s equality and diversity knowledge and Melin’s practical experience of how it could be achieved for housing associations.

The QED process involved a staff survey, desktop reviews and a range of interviews with staff, board and residents followed by recommendations and a period to implement an action plan. This was followed by a progress visit and a final report.

Melin Homes CEO, Paula Kennedy (pictured) accepted the award from Peter Tatchell at Tai Pawb’s annual conference Close to Home.

She said:

‘At Melin, we recognised that equality and diversity in Wales needed a framework that served organisations and the people these policies benefit much better. The QED Award is the culmination of this vision and we are delighted to be the first organisation to receive it.’

Ceri Meloy, Tai Pawb’s head of business, has been working closely with Melin for the past year. She said:

‘I would like to congratulate Melin Homes on achieving the QED Award. This would not be possible without their openness, commitment to equality, and a drive to continuously reflect on and improve what they do for the benefit of people they serve.’

Business park with a difference

Cartrefi Conwy has built a new business park to create a £30 million a year construction hub.

The development in Mochdre will kick start plans for regeneration projects across North Wales and to build up to 300 new homes.

The association says it is the first of its kind in Wales and will also provide jobs and training for unemployed tenants so they can get back into the world of work.

Two of the six units at the £1.7 million business park will be rented by Cartrefi Conwy subsidiary, Creating Enterprise, a social enterprise that’s on course to turnover £9 million this year.

Others moving into the new business park include local firm Brenig Construction and builders’ merchants Travis Perkins.

Adrian Johnson, managing director of commercial services for the Cartrefi Conwy group, said:

‘We are diversifying our business, creating new income streams through construction related activities but ensuring tenants are given as many work opportunities as possible.’

2018 Welsh Housing Awards now open

The 2018 Welsh Housing Awards, which recognise and celebrate the creativity, passion and innovation of housing organisations and individuals across the breadth of the sector in Wales, are now open for applications.

Organised by the Chartered Institute of Housing Cymru, the awards are open to housing organisations across Wales and this year’s event will feature three brand new categories, including awards for the private rented sector, supporting future generations and innovation is communications award, alongside the return of some of our more popular event categories.

The closing date for applications is Friday 14 September and the winners will be announced first hand at a special ceremony on Friday 23 November at the Vale Resort.

More information is available at www.cih.org/cymru/welshhousingwards


1) Everybody In: How to End Homelessness in Great Britain

Crisis, June 2018


2) The Welsh Government’s Supporting People Programme

Public Accounts Committee, National Assembly, May 2018


3) Rethinking Social Housing

Chartered Institute of Housing, June 2017


4) Weighing the Options

Chartered Institute of Housing Cymru, June 2017


5) Effective Housing for People on Low Incomes in the Valleys

Joseph Rowntree Foundation/Bevan Foundation, June 2018


6) What Works in Tackling Rural Poverty: an evidence review of economic interventions

Wales Centre for Public Policy, June 2018


7) Closing the Gap: gender pay gap in housing associations in Wales

Tai Pawb, June 2018


8) Living Standards, Poverty and Inequality in the UK: 2018

Institute for Fiscal Studies, June 2018


9) The Peabody Index: tracking the financial experiences of London’s social housing tenants

Social Market Foundation, June 2018


10) Social Housing (fixed-term tenancies): final findings

Welfare Conditionality, May 2018


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