HQN Residents’ Network News


Each week Rob Gershon and Steve Cook, associates for The Residents’ Network, go over the biggest and most relevant news stories, reports and publications of the past few days for members, while providing their own analysis and comment.

For more expert analysis, briefings and best practice for those involved in resident involvement and tenant engagement, be sure to join The Residents’ Network. You can find out more here.

Week commencing 19 August 2019

Four new members appointed to Homes England’s Board

Four new members have been appointed to the Board of Homes England, the government’s housing accelerator.

Mark Rennison, Olivia Scanlon, Sadie Morgan and Vanessa Murden join the Homes England Board with immediate effect, increasing its gender diversity and boosting its resilience; taking its non-executive members from 6 to 10.

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Week commencing 12 August 2019

Are Social Housing Green Paper proposals on ice? We look at what has happened since last year

One year ago this week, the government published its long-awaited Social Housing Green Paper. This document, which was overdue, was supposed to be the “most substantial report of its kind for a generation” and deliver a “fundamental rethink of social housing in this country”.

But these lofty aims remain – as yet – unfulfilled.

A consultation on the paper closed in November, with a response and a potential white paper expected in spring. But as we pass the one-year anniversary, we are still waiting.

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Sir Edward Lister resigns as Homes England Chair

Statement regarding the resignation of Homes England’s Chair as he moves to join Boris Johnson’s team as Chief Strategic Advisor.

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Barking fire: social tenants told to return despite safety fears

After a fire at Samuel Garside House in June, residents say they are being forced back before safety assessments, as they will no longer be given financial support to stay in external accomodation.

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Average adult will spend more than £60,000 in rent before reaching housing ladder, poll claims

Those who have bought their first home within the last five years previously paid an average of £625 every month in rent to their landlords. And on average, they will be renting for almost eight-and-a-half years before they finally get onto the property ladder, spending a total of £63,225 in rent during that time.

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Lettings agent fined £40,000 for ‘membership club’ scam in landmark prosecution

Gian Paulo Aliatis, the director of Lifestyle Club Ltd in Islington, London, pleaded guilty to three charges on July 30 after Islington Council’s Trading Standards investigated his firm’s bogus claim that it was a members’ club and therefore not subject to the legal regulations for letting agents.

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British public tells new government: don’t stop talking about the housing crisis

Almost three-quarters of people across the UK believe there’s a housing crisis – and more than half think we’re not talking about it enough, according to a new survey by Ipsos MORI for CIH. Figures also show a general increase in support for social housing across the country.

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Leicestershire mum ‘didn’t have cancer enough’ to receive benefits

Katie Larn was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma last year, and after starting treatment she applied for Personal Independence Payments (PIP). The 29-year-old was told she did not qualify for support after a home visit.

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Expectations for UK economy fall to lowest level since 2011

The Office for National Statistics has said the outlook for the general economic situation for the year ahead is worse than at any point since the final quarter of 2011. Expectations for higher unemployment for the year ahead have also been climbing and are now higher than at any point for the past five-and-a-half years.

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Housing association residents ‘refused’ fire assessments

An independent report, carried out after the Grenfell Tower fire, advised assessments for high-risk flats should be proactively shared with residents. A BBC investigation found only five out of 20 housing associations proactively published them, while some residents say they weren’t shared when requested.

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How a big French bank helped London tenants get back to work

France’s biggest bank loaned L&Q £100m at a discount rate on the condition that the housing association helped at least 600 of its residents into work. BNP Paribas and L&Q were unable to state how big the discount is, but Corbett said it was significant and would free up more money for the housing association to invest in its foundation.

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New Economics Foundation: Fix productivity crisis by giving workers more paid holiday and higher wages

For years, policy makers have tried to solve the productivity puzzle by focusing on the supply-side of the economy – the ways in which we produce goods and deliver services. But the research shows that if the government is serious about productivity, it must now also look at the demand-side of the economy as well – the level and nature of spending across the country.

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York-based partnership to help keep domestic violence victims safe

Work to protect victims begins after a successful bid for £300,000 in funding.

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UK housing market at its weakest point in a decade, says Savills

Upmarket property firm blames Brexit uncertainty for putting off would-be buyers

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Week commencing 5 August 2019

AgeUK/Habinteg report: Home Truths – Rebutting ten myths about building accessible housing

This fact sheet addresses ten common myths about accessible homes that are often used to argue against further progress.

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Housing Evidence report: Understanding approaches to tenant participation in social housing

This new report discusses approaches to tenant participatoon and how these have changed over time. It also discusses perceptions, purposes, barriers, drivers and the benefits of tenant participation for different groups.

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Wales looks at thousands of new council homes by 2040

A new planning framework aims to show where new homes, jobs and services need to be over the next 20 years. Proposals also set out priority areas for large-scale wind and solar energy projects.

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UK risks losing out to Europe in home battery boom, report warns

Controversial tax hike could leave country lagging behind as continent powers ahead.

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Landlords across Islington could soon need licences due to rise of ‘dodgy operators’

Landlords in Finsbury Park could be forced to get licensed because it has the highest number of complaints from renters in Islington.

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Surge in EU citizens unfairly refused access to Universal Credit

‘Hostile environment’ of benefits system leads EU nationals to destitution.

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Resolution Foundation report: A problem shared? What can we learn from past recessions about the impact of the next across the income distribution?

While the received wisdom from the 1980s and 1990s recessions was that those at the bottom of the income distribution suffer most during severe downturns. But this was less obvious in the aftermath of the financial crisis. So this briefing note looks at what lessons we can learn from that episode about the distributional impact of recessions.

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MPs blast government’s £20m no-deal Brexit council spending pledge

Ministers have come under fire for pledging five times as much money towards no-deal “propaganda” as they have promised to help councils prepare for a no-deal Brexit.

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Post-Brexit priorities for low-income voters in deprived areas

This briefing from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation sets out what low-income voters, in parts of the country locked out of opportunity, want to see after Brexit: their hopes, fears and aspirations for their families and local economies.

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More than half of landlords increased rents in June, says latest lettings report

More than half, some 55%, of agents reported landlords increasing rents, up 22% compared with May which was a previous record high, the report from the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) reveals.

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Boris Johnson and the housing crisis

Writing for The Guardian, Patrick Collinson analyses the challenges the new Prime Minister has acknowledged, but perhaps hasn’t prioritised.

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Over half of UK councils declare climate emergency

Since Bristol City Council became the first local local authority to declare a climate emergency in November 2018, more than half of all councils across the UK have followed suit, committing to achieving net-zero carbon emissions in a bid to limit the devastating impacts of climate change.

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July 2019

Council tenant hit with £100,000 subletting fine

A council tenant has been ordered to pay over £100,000 after being taken to court by Westminster City Council for illegally subletting his social housing flat in Victoria as a holiday home through Airbnb.

Legal action was taken against Toby Harman, 37, after it was found that the property on Vauxhall Bridge Road had been advertised on Airbnb with over 300 reviews dating back to 2013. The council’s Corporate Anti-fraud Service found some of the reviews mentioned the tenant by his name, thanking him for his advice and local restaurant recommendations. Bank statements also proved he had been receiving payments from Airbnb for a number of years. Harman did not co-operate with the investigation.

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Britain to spend an extra £2.1bn on no-deal Brexit planning

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who took power last week, has pledged to leave the trading bloc without an agreement in three months unless the EU agrees to renegotiate the deal agreed by his predecessor Theresa May.

New finance minister Sajid Javid said the outlay will allow the government to increase training for customs officials, hire more staff to deal with an expected increase in passport applications, and improve infrastructure around ports.

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Government urged to scrap ‘nasty’ two-child limit on benefits

Campaigners have called for the government to scrap the “nasty” two-child limit on benefits after the latest official figures showed that nearly 600,000 children were affected by the controversial policy.

Although the government promoted it as a way to persuade people into work, Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) statistics published on Wednesday show those most affected by the limit were working families. Of the 161,000 households affected since the policy was introduced, 59% had at least one adult in work.

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‘Youth Service Guarantee’ needed to protect young people from serious violence

In its report on Serious youth violence the Home Affairs Committee says the rise in serious youth violence is a social emergency, and that young people have been failed in the most devastating way, losing their lives as a result.

The committee is calling for stronger focus, leadership and direction from the government and Prime Minister, and an accountable leader in every local area reporting to the Prime Minister on action to bring serious violence down.

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LGBT people are ‘being made homeless due to religion’

The Albert Kennedy Trust (AKT) charity says three in four LGBT people are rejected by their families – and 45% of that number are from a faith background – the majority from Muslim and Christian families.

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New report reveals 4.5m people are more than 50% below the poverty line, and 7m people are living in persistent poverty.

The new report from the Social Metrics Commission shows that, despite fluctuations, overall rates of poverty have changed relatively little since the millennium. The current rate of poverty is 22%, which is the same as last year and only slightly lower than the 24% seen in 2000/01. However, this trend hides significant changes in rates of poverty among different groups.

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Housing crisis is harming productivity, nearly half of UK businesses warn

Some 43% of UK companies with over 1,000 employees said that housing issues are having a negative effect on their business’ productivity, according to new findings released by the Centre for Social Justice.

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