HQN Strategic Network News
Each week Jo Barratt and Emma Lindley, associates for The Strategic Network, go over the biggest and most relevant news stories, reports and publications of the past week for members, while providing their own analysis and comment.
For more expert analysis, briefings and best practice for those involved in policy, strategy and the private rented sector, be sure to join The Strategic Network. You can find out more here.
Week commencing 11 February 2019 – prepared by Jo Barrett
Rapid Rehousing Pathway
The government has awarded funding to 42 areas for Rapid Rehousing Pathways. This falls under the government’s Rough Sleeping Strategy and brings together four policy interventions:
- Somewhere Safe to Stay assessment hubs
- Supported lettings
- Local lettings agencies.
These interventions all work to help rough sleepers, and those at risk of rough sleeping, to access the support and settled housing they need to leave the streets for good.
Details of the 42 funded areas can be found here.
National Audit Office – Critical of the planning system for new homes
The National Audit Office is looking into the government’s response to meeting the country’s housing needs. As we know, the government has set a challenging target for 300,000 new homes per year. They have concluded that the system is not working well in providing value for money and cite the following reasons:
- Reductions in local authority capability
- Under-performing Planning Inspectorate
- Failures in the system to ensure adequate contributions for infrastructure.
The NAO concludes by saying that “The Department and government more widely need to take this much more seriously and bring about improvement if they are to meet their ambition of 300,000 new homes per year by the mid-2020s.”
LGA data sets published
The LGA has released a new data set which enables the user to select a local authority area and find out how many homes sold in the last year compared to neighbouring authorities and regional averages. This will be of use to those monitoring housing market signals.
Also released is a data set on the number of homes repossessed per year by local authority area. Of interest to those preparing homelessness reviews and strategies.
Young people stay at home for longer
As reported in the BBC, Civitas research has found that a million more young adults in the UK are living with their parents than were two decades ago. A quarter of young people aged 20 to 34 are reported to be living with parents, rising to 41% in London.
Systemic problems with the availability of affordable housing – including in the private rented sector – are named as the barriers to young people starting up home on their own. In response to the problem, MHCLG are reported as saying, “more than 222,000 homes were delivered in 2017-18, the highest level in all but one of the last 31 years.”
RICS tackles homelessness
The RICS is aiming to help tackle homelessness through an initiative known as Pledge150 – celebrating 150 years of the organisation. As well as research and fund raising initiatives, 29 bed spaces across five housing projects are being delivered.
Week commencing 4 February 2019 – prepared by Emma Lindley
Helping communities build – An independent review of our Community Land Trust funds
This report commissioned by CAF Venturesome is an independent review of the two Community Land Trust Funds it has managed since 2008. It explores the increasing role of community led-housing – specifically Community Land Trusts – in tackling the UK’s ongoing crisis. Since 2008, it has offered £4.4M of repayable finance to 33 individual groups, with 525 affordable homes completed or in the pipeline. The community led sector is growing fast with an estimated 5,810 community led homes in the pipeline in England.
This research supports recent findings that CLTs face multiple hurdles and obstacles in developing housing schemes. This research identified two major barriers to CLT developments: securing affordable land for development, and raising funds for pre-development activity. To overcome these barriers the report advocates several measures, including reducing interest rates – particularly on pre-development loans – as well as creating a range of financial products that enable groups to plan and operate effectively.
A licence to rent: selective licensing helping to tackle dangerous properties but could go further with more government support
A new joint report from the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) and the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) analysed the impact of schemes run by 20 councils across England.
The CIH/CIEH analysis found that selective licensing isn’t a ‘quick win’ – it may be several years before tenants start to see results. But many schemes are now delivering significant benefits. High numbers of serious hazards and defects have been identified and addressed as a result of property inspections. In schemes that have come to an end, between 69%-84% of homes in licensed areas needed work to bring them up to a decent standard.
The report outlines a series of recommendations for the government to boost standards for private renters further using selective licensing, including:
- Reviewing the way councils get approval for new schemes
- Giving councils more flexibility to set licence conditions for their area
- Introducing a national landlord registration scheme
New measures power up PRS electrical safety standards
The MHCLG has “powered up” electrical safety for tenants, announcing mandatory measures for PRS inspections.
Following consultation, the government announced in July that regulations would be introduced that require private sector landlords to undertake five yearly safety checks of electrical installations in their properties.
The MHCLG intends to introduce new legislation on a phased basis, starting with new tenancies, as soon as Parliamentary time allows.
Rough sleeping in England: Autumn 2018
This publication provides information on the single night snapshot of rough sleeping for autumn 2018. The snapshot is taken annually in England using street counts, evidence-based estimates, and estimates informed by spotlight street counts.
- The total number of people counted or estimated to be sleeping rough on a single night was 4,677
- This was down by 74 people or 2% from the 2017 total of 4,751, and was up 2,909 people or 165% from the 2010 total of 1,768
- The number of people sleeping rough increased by 146 or 13% in London, and decreased by 220 or 6% in the rest of England, since 2017
- London accounted for 27% of the total number of people sleeping rough in England. This is up from 24% of the England total in 2017
- 64% were UK nationals, compared to 71% in 2017. 22% were EU nationals from outside the UK, compared to 16% in 2017. 3% were non-EU nationals, compared to 4% in 2017
- 14% of the people recorded sleeping rough were women, the same as in 2017; and 6% were aged 25 years or under, compared to 8% in 2017.
English Private Landlord Survey 2018
The 2018 English Private Landlord Survey (EPLS) is a national survey of landlords and letting agents who own and/or manage privately rented properties in England. It was commissioned by the MHCLG. The aim of the EPLS is to inform government understanding of the characteristics and experiences of landlords and how they acquire, let, manage and maintain privately rented accommodation. Similar surveys of private landlords were carried out by the department in 2001, 2003, 2006 and 2012.
Some of the main findings can be found below:
- While almost half of landlords own just one property, half of private rented sector tenancies are let by the 17% of landlords with five or more properties
- Over the next two years, half of landlords plan to keep the number of rental properties the same, with similar proportions planning to increase the number of properties as those planning to decrease or leave the rental business
- Letting practices vary between landlords and agents. For example, agents are more likely than landlords to increase rent for a new tenant and for a tenancy renewal. They are also more likely to require a larger deposit
- Meanwhile, landlords are less willing than agents to let to certain groups, including those in receipt of housing benefit and Universal Credit, non-UK passport holders and families.