CWAG News Update - December 2017

06 December 2017: CWAG News Update - December 2017


This update includes the following topics: 


·         Budget Highlights

·         Supported Housing Consultation

·         Social Housing Green Paper

·         CIH project ‘Rethinking Social Housing’

·         New Cross Sector Housing Ombudsman proposal

·         CWAG  Executive Update

·         Consultation on CWAG member subscription fees/ rail re-imbursement arrangements

·         Next CWAG Event – Finance and Business Planning Workshop

·         New documents in the library / Recent Publications


Budget Highlights


Billed as a ‘Housing’ Budget, the package unveiled by the Chancellor in his Autumn Budget includes a wide ranging package of measures designed to boost housing supply and address the ‘broken housing market’. 


Although many of the measures, and much of the funding, remains focussed on private sector housebuilding and home ownership initiatives for first time buyers, the Chancellor did signal a shift in policy towards council house building.


Councils will be able to bid competitively for an additional £1 billion of HRA borrowing capacity to build new council housing in areas of ‘high affordability pressure’. Bidding on the scheme will not start until 2019/20, so there will be a significant time lag before any new schemes will actually be delivered.


Concerns have also been expressed within the sector that the Treasury may be expecting the scheme to fail, as a similar initiative in 2014 was undersubscribed. To ensure this is not the case, local authorities and their representative organisations are focussed on ensuring that the rules under-pinning this initiative do not hold back councils’ ability to deliver (as was the case in 2014). Councils also need to gear up and demonstrate that they have the drive and determination to carry through on their ambitions to build and deliver a real boost to social and affordability housing.

Summary of key housing announcements in the Budget.


Supported Housing Consultation


Following the announcement that plans to apply the Local Housing Allowance to social housing, including supported housing, had been abandoned; the Government issued a policy statement and consultation setting out proposals for the future funding of the sector.


Summary of Supported Housing consultation proposals and issues.

The consultations close on 23rd January 2018. The Policy Officer will be contacting members separately for views / input into the CWAG response.


Social Housing Green Paper


DCLG are hosting a number of roundtable events for different groups within the housing sector, to discuss the upcoming Housing Green Paper. A number of CWAG members have attended an event for councils held at Marsham Street on 5th December 2017.


In parallel with these consultation events, the housing minister Alok Shama is hosting a series of roadshows as a way of meeting tenants and discussing their concerns. These meetings are likely to be very important in shaping the green paper which may be published as early as February next year.  


There are a couple of interesting blogs describing the roadshows which give an interesting insight into these events.


See Rob Gershan’s post describing the York event.

24housing » Opinion » Tenant Voices. Stranger things, too.


 See also Jenny Osbourne’s article

‘Behind the scenes at Alok Shama’s social housing roadshow’

CIH project ‘Rethinking Social Housing’


This major new CIH project aims to make the case for social housing and influence the shape and direction of future housing policy in context of the forthcoming social housing green paper.


The project will include original research, engagement and polling around three principle work streams:

·         What is social housing is and who is it for?

·         Perceptions and experiences of social housing.

·         Who is currently living in social housing? What is the value of social housing?



First results will be published early next year with a final publication in June at Housing 2018.


New Cross Sector Housing Ombudsman Proposal

Sajid Javid has announced that the Government will be launching a consultation in the New Year, proposing a new housing ombudsman covering both social and private landlords. The initiative aims to explore options for driving up standards and increasing protections for consumers.


CWAG Executive Update


Following the Annual General Meeting the CWAG Executive Group met in November,  welcoming Rob Main as the new Chair along with a number of new Executive Members.


Membership of the CWAG Executive Group now includes:

·         Rob Main – Newark and Sherwood DC – CWAG Chair

·         Martin Oldfield – Manchester City Council – Representative of the Administrative Authority

·         Ceri Davies – Nottingham City Council – Executive Member

·         Lynn Thomas – Colchester BC – Executive Member

·         Julia Lansdowne – Cornwall Council - Executive Member

·         Fiona Dodsworth – Newcastle City Council - Executive Member

·         Anna Milner – South Tyneside - Executive Member

·         Faisal Butt – LB Barnet – Co-opted Executive Member


The Executive group is also keen to encourage further member engagement on specific issues and initiatives to ensure good representation across the membership.


Consultation on CWAG Member Subscription Fees / Rail Re-imbursement arrangements


Members are currently being consulted on a number of subscription fee options as well as current arrangements for reimbursing members’ rail travel costs when attending CWAG meetings.

 The consultation has been sent to the CWAG key contact in each member authority – details


Finance and Business Planning Workshop


The next CWAG event is a Finance and Business Planning Workshop which is being held at the Laycock Development Centre on Tuesday 16th January 2018.

The workshop will be facilitated by Simon Smith from HQN and is open to all CWAG members. The event will be of interest to finance officers and those involved in Business Planning from the strategic housing perspective.


New in the library / Recent Publications


Briefing Note – Councils with ALMOs Group – context and background

This is a short briefing note outlining the principles underpinning the council /ALMO relationship and split of responsibilities. This was prepared for those less familiar with these arrangements.


Raising the Roof: Analysis of Housing Revenue Account Headroom – ARCH /NFA

Jointly commissioned by ARCH the NFA the report "Raising the roof" investigates the true extent of unutilised borrowing headroom within Housing Revenue Accounts (HRA) in England and the reasons for it.


Delivering the renaissance in council-built homes – The rise of local housing Companies – Summary Report – The Smith Institute

Report considers the reasons for the dramatic rise in the number of council owned local housing companies as alternative providers of affordable homes.


Local Authority Direct Provision of Housing study – by Professor Janice Morphet and Dr.Ben Clifford of University College London.

 The most comprehensive study to date of the current state of local authority housebuilding. The report found evidence of council ambition to expand their role and tackle the housing crisis. 65% of councils are directly involved in the delivery of new housing, either through the HRA, using general funds or through a wholly owned housing company.  The report includes a number of case studies.