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‘Lock us in a room!’ – what social landlords in Wales have been asking of i2i

‘Capturing the Lessons’ sessions are the result of the needs, issues and concerns identified by social landlords in Wales. i2i arrange and facilitate an open dialogue event in order to share information and experiences between landlords. The end result is an ‘Active Response’ document which is a useful resource available to all social landlords in Wales.

The experts who attend are typically staff members from Welsh registered social landlords and local authorities who might be working at a strategic or operational level. Assistance and professional support is included when appropriate.

Some have described the Capturing the Lessons process as ‘i2i locking us all in a room until we find a way forward’. The process is actually rather tamer and focuses on collaborative thinking, working and teasing out the answers which we already have between us, and then collating these into a useful document and identifying the way forward. Active Responses help social landlords turn problems into solutions. There are certainly no locked doors and the positive responses and continued requests for these events from landlords suggests satisfaction with the process rather than a fear of an enclosed space filled with colleagues, partners and an i2i coordinator.

The Excellence Factor 2012 saw the launch of i2i’s most recent Active Responses focusing on digital inclusion and welfare reform. Later in the Autumn, there will also be the launch of Active Response 9 – WHQS & the options: the ‘no vote’ Local Authorities.

i2i Active Response 7: Digital Inclusion

Reflects on the issues that have arisen around the lack of engagement of some sectors of the community in recent technological advances. The Government target is to have 80% of claims for their new ‘Universal Credit’ to be completed online by 2017. However, in many financial disadvantaged communities, rates of access to the internet are chronically low. The reasons are complex, from lack of equipment, connectivity or skills, through to a complete lack of interest in getting online. In Wales, there is a broad recognition that this digital exclusion will compound social and financial exclusion, but the response to the situation has been fragmented. Efforts to date have been around individual projects, promoted and funded often by housing providers in partnership with Communities 2.0. This Active Response has not uncovered the magic bullet for addressing this situation, but the round table discussion highlighted the major issues. Some action points were proposed for housing providers to take on, and some good practice to consider.

i2i Active response 8: Welfare Reform

Reflects on the issues that have arisen as a result of the proposed welfare reforms, the lessons learnt so far from the Bron Afon Community Housing/Charter Housing/Torfaen County Borough Council demonstration project and the response from social landlords in North Wales and it is their views that are expressed throughout the briefing.

From 2013, Welfare Reform will see the introduction of a \’Universal Credit\’ to replace a range of existing means tested benefits and tax credits for people of working age. The Welfare Reform Act will also see restrictions in Housing Benefit entitlement to those social housing tenants who are deemed to be under-occupying their property (the ‘Bedroom Tax’) and will also cap the total amount of benefit that can be claimed by a household.

The Active Response focuses on the following key areas:

  • the demonstration project
  • under-occupation
  • direct payments
  • £26,000 per annum maximum benefit cap
  • how social landlords might respond

There are suggested actions for social landlords and advice on what they need to identify and consider.

i2i Active Response 9: WHQS & the options: the ‘no vote’ local authorities

This focuses on the local authorities who have received a negative ballot result on their housing stock transfer proposals, and therefore have been entrusted by their tenants to achieve the Welsh Housing Quality Standard. It discusses the challenges, possible solutions and queries currently felt by the local authorities. It is based around discussions with the five local authorities in this position, including the two authorities who have had their retention business plans approved by Welsh Government, but who have had difficulty raising the capital needed to reach WHQS in the timescales required.

Previous Capturing the Lessons events and Active Responses have included:

  • WHQS business plans
  • keeping WHQS investment ‘local’
  • capturing the lessons on stock transfer procurement
  • co-ordinating social housing investment with private sector schemes
  • supporting tenants’ through targeted recruitment and training

Active Response resources are available on i2i’s website www.whq.org.uk

Please contact us if you have any ideas for, or queries about, Active Response:

Elen Grantham – i2i Coordinator for West & North Wales

Email: [email protected]

Mobile: 07506 562193

Rachel Honey-Jones – i2i Coordinator for South Wales & Powys

Email: [email protected]

Mobile: 07507 351906

Rachel Morton – i2i Coordinator for South East Wales & Valleys

Email: [email protected]

Mobile: 07534 527544

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