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Policy update – October 2012

Policy developments in other parts of the UK

England

The costs of homelessness

The Department for Communities and Local Government have published an evidence review of the costs of homelessness. The document presents information from existing research and information available to government, The review found that most of the additional financial costs of homelessness to health and support services and the police and justice system are attributable to the most vulnerable and hardest to help, including in particular those with multiple needs; around 2,000 rough sleepers and 40,000 living in hostels. The overall cost of homelessness was estimated by the National Audit Office to be £1billion per year, while a number of studies estimated the annual cost relating to a single homeless person as around £24,000.

The review is online at www.communities.gov.uk

New Housing Minister

Mark Prisk has replaced Grant Shapps as Housing Minister in David Cameron’s Cabinet.

Housing and growth

September saw the announcement of the housing and growth package which includes:

  • £200 million of new funding to support institutional investment in high-quality rented homes
  • a debt guarantee for up to £10 billion to support private investment in the private rented sector and in new affordable housing
  • support for up to an additional 15,000 affordable homes through the use of loan guarantees, flexibilities and capital funding and bringing an additional 5,000 existing empty homes back into use supported by £300 million of investment
  • extending the FirstBuy scheme for first time buyers, with an additional £280 million of funding, helping up to 16,500 additional first time buyers to purchase a home
  • accelerating the release of surplus public sector land and empty offices through a targeted programme of transfers from other Government bodies
  • making it easier for developers to change unrealistic Section 106 agreements
  • simplifying and increasing permitted development rights for householders

Further information is online at www.communities.gov.uk


Publications – 10 to watch out for

1 – Maximising the impact of Welsh Procurement Policy – John McClelland, Welsh Government, July 2012 http://wales.gov.uk

2 – 2011 Census – Population and Household Estimates for Wales, March 2011, National Statistics, July 2012 www.ons.gov.uk

3 – Social mobility and social housing: parliamentary taskforce report, Chartered Institute of Housing, Gentoo Group, Inside Housing, June 2012 www.cih.org

4 – To have or have not? Taking responsibility for tomorrow’s affordable homes today, Housing Voice, September 2012 www.housingvoice.co.uk

5 – Tackling housing market volatility in the UK: a progress report, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, September 2012 www.jrf.org.uk

6 – Sink or Swim? The impact of Universal Credit, Social Market Foundation, September 2012 www.smf.co.uk

7 – Their house, your home: the private rented sector in Wales, Consumer Focus Wales, 2012 www.consumerfocus.org.uk

8 – Social hearts: business heads – new thinking on value for money for housing associations, HouseMark/National Housing Federation, 2012 www.housemark.co.uk

9 – ‘Hard-to-Reach’ or ‘Easy-to-Ignore’? A rapid review of place-based policies and equality, Equality and Human Rights Commission Scotland, September 2012 www.equalityhumanrights.com

10 – Unintended Consequences: Local Housing Allowance meets the Right to Buy, Nigel Sprigings and Duncan Smith http://extra.shu.ac.uk


Welsh Government

Planning

In order to build the evidence base for the Planning Bill, the Welsh Government set up an Independent Advisory Group. The Group looked at how planning decisions are made in Wales, where it works and where it could be improved. The report of the Group has been published and contains a large number of recommendations, including:

  • the need for leadership and, where necessary, intervention by government. This includes Welsh Ministers taking decisions on nationally significant devolved infrastructure schemes
  • preparation of a national framework within which local planning authorities deliver local development plans
  • the introduction of a statutory framework for strategic planning at a level above individual local planning authority. This could accommodate a city region approach to spatial planning
  • the establishment of a planning advisory and improvement body

Two related reports have also been published on public attitudes towards the planning system in Wales and a new approach to managing development in Wales.

The reports are online at http://wales.gov.uk

Consultation papers

A number of Welsh Government consultation papers will be of interest to WHQ readers:

  • Council Tax and Long-term Empty Homes in Wales – Consultation responses are required by 20 October 2012
  • Building Regulations Part L Review – Consultation responses are required by 23 October 2012
  • Options for the future of the Community Facilities and Activities Programme – Consultation responses are required by 31 October 2012
  • Framework for Action on Independent Living – Consultation responses are required by 20 December 2012

Welsh Government consultation papers are online at http://wales.gov.uk

City Regions

The City Regions task and finish group chaired by Dr Elizabeth Haywood has published its final report. The main objective of the group was determining whether a city region approach appeared likely to deliver more jobs and greater prosperity in and for Wales than current approaches to economic development.

The report makes 23 recommendations, including recognition of two city regions in South Wales – South East Wales and Swansea Bay. A city region approach is felt by the Group to have the potential to deliver three main economic benefits – larger and more efficient labour markets, larger potential markets for goods and services and a greater exchange of knowledge, ideas and innovation.

The report notes:

‘Adopting a city region approach will only succeed with willing partners who can agree a long-term regional vision and objectives and are prepared to pool funding on projects which will benefit the whole city region.’

It is available online at http://wales.gov.uk

Tackling Poverty Action Plan

The Welsh Government has published its Tackling Poverty Action Plan which is underpinned by a commitment to long-term well. The key objectives of the actions in the Plan are:

  • to prevent poverty, especially through investment in giving children the best possible start in life
  • recognising that the best route out of poverty is through employment, continuing to help people to improve their skills and enhance the relevance of their qualifications and remove other barriers to employment
  • to increase action to mitigate the impact of poverty here and now

For each of these areas, the Plan sets out the track record of the Welsh Government to date, what action is currently being taken and what additional action will be taken.

The Plan is online at http://wales.gov.uk

Regulatory intervention: board member and senior management appointments

All stakeholders will be aware that the Housing Regulation Team may need to take intervention action as part of our regulatory assessments. Such action can include the appointment of Board Members or interim Senior Management staff.

The Welsh Government\’s Housing Regulation Team have had preliminary discussions and are working with Community Housing Cymru to develop a list of individuals who might be interested in assisting associations and the Welsh Government as and when it is necessary to appoint Board Members or interim Senior Management staff as part of regulatory actions.

We are looking for people:

  • with relevant skills and experience, for example, relating to governance, finance, change management, customer focus and continuous improvement
  • from the housing association, public, private and voluntary sectors who are currently working or have retired

For further information, please contact:

Darshan Singh Matharoo – Head of Regulation, Welsh Government
tel 0300 062 8164, mobile: 07891 553 350, email: [email protected]

Amanda Oliver – Community Housing Cymru
tel 029 20557 404, mobile 07843 269681, email: [email protected]


Wales

News from TPAS Cymru

TPAS Cymru is looking for new independent members to join its Contractor Accreditation Scrutiny Panel which is involved in evaluating and validating the TPAS Cymru Contractor Accreditation process and judging whether the award can be given to a contractor. Independent members are selected through a simple application process. The commitment required is two standardisation and training meetings per year and up to three scrutiny panel assessments in the year. We are particularly interested in applicants who have a good knowledge of tenant participation and involvement in repairs and improvements. If you think the Contractor Accreditation Scrutiny Panel is something that you would like to be involved in, email [email protected]> or tel 029 2023 7303.

TPAS Cymru has recently produced an overview report of the assessment of Local Tenant Participation Strategies (LTPS) produced by social landlords and supported housing providers in Wales in 2011/12. Each individual LTPS assessment report has been sent already to each landlord.

The report provides an up to date and encouraging picture of tenant participation across Wales indicating many areas of development and improvement. It highlights new areas of development and areas where further improvement is needed, which TPAS Cymru will prioritise for support in our future work programme.

The report also includes examples of good practice relating to each of the assessment criteria and is available along with a number of the LTPSs with the best assessments on TPAS Cymru’s website – www.tpascymru.org.uk

Wanted! Organisations to pilot new service

HouseMark is looking for Welsh local authorities and housing associations to pilot its Business Data Service which is currently under development. The service will enhance organisations\’ business planning by providing them with comparative information on input assumptions and analysis of forecast performance indicators. Pilot organisations need to be HouseMark subscribers.

For more information, contact Will Perry, email [email protected], tel 07725 203886.

New provision for homeless people

New provision for homeless people

Pictured are Huw Lewis AM, Amanda Davies Group Chief Executive, Seren and Liz Morgan, resident of the newly refurbished Clifton Place supported accommodation for homeless people in Newport at the official opening of the scheme.

The new Salvation Army Northlands Lifehouse on North Road Cardiff has been officially opened heralding a new start for homeless and vulnerably housed young people. The new centre, delivered by United Welsh with support from Welsh Government and Cardiff Council will provide much needed support to young people aged between 16 and 25 who are homeless; to help them achieve successful and sustainable resettlement into appropriate accommodation.

A new state of the art Single Assessment Centre on Dumballs Road, Cardiff, replaces the former Tresillian House hostel, as well as the Huggard hostel and day centre and marks a new era for homeless provision in the Capital. Funded by Cardiff Council, the Welsh Government, Hafod Housing Association, Huggard and the Big Lottery, the new £9.4 million provision provides a partnership approach to tackling homelessness. It offers an all encompassing service with a medical centre, young person’s advisory service, and will provide training opportunities.

Bistro times

Bistro times

Social housing and care specialist Grwp Gwalia has moved into the bistro market, opening a nighttime eaterie in Swansea city centre. Tapestri, which supports those needing experience to support a catering career, already runs as a daytime social enterprise café bar – now it’s also open 7pm-late from Thursday to Saturday. www.tapestri.co.uk

First for Wales in field of vision

Ruth Nortey as Vision Support Officer with RNIB Cymru

In the first role of its kind within the housing sector in Wales, RCT Homes, Wales’ largest social housing provider, has jointly appointed Ruth Nortey as Vision Support Officer with RNIB Cymru to provide a dedicated and tailored support to tenants with sight loss. Through its on-going work to provide the right services to the right people, RCT Homes is undertaking a rolling tenant profiling programme. With over 10,000 homes in its ownership, including 27 sheltered housing complexes, figures so far have highlighted 170 tenants who have identified themselves as having sight loss.

CanDo Decorators!

CanDo Decorators

Cadwyn has joined forces with Phil Wall, former owner of Walls Decorators to create CanDo Decorators. This is the latest commercial venture for Cadwyn. CanDo Decorators is the sister company of CanDo Lettings and both companies are part of Cadwyn’s overall strategy to enhance its commercial services.

Pictured is the official opening of @Loudoun

Pictured is the official opening of @Loudoun – a multi-functional building offering a host of services for the local community, including a new health centre, part of phase 2 of the Loudoun Square redevelopment being undertaken by Cardiff Community Housing Association.


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