Here’s a roundup of the week’s sector news, updates, announcements, and more:
Friday 15 February 2019
Letter from the Regulator of Social Housing – Preparation for no-deal Brexit
The Regulator of Social Housing has published a letter outlining the potential risks the sector would face from a ‘no-deal’ Brexit. They highlight the importance of stress testing to mitigate the uncertainty that would be created in such a scenario.
LGA: Building social housing over 20 years could have saved renters £1.8bn
The Local Government Association said its new research provides evidence for why the government should use the Spending Review to work with councils to ensure that the genuine renaissance in council housebuilding needed to increase housing supply, boost affordability and reduce homelessness, is a success.
Three-quarters of composite fire doors failed safety tests
Just three of 12 fire doors tested by the government were able to resist flames and smoke for the 30 minutes required by building regulations for flat front doors.
JRF: People in poverty must not pay the price for Brexit
A coalition of charities have urged the Government to take urgent steps to protect people and places in poverty from the financial consequences of Brexit, including no-deal.
£15m government plan to bring more homes
Plans include the development of public sector land, aiming to save taxpayers £37m in running costs.
Thursday 14 February 2019
£250m of housing deals struck to deliver tens of thousands of homes
The MHCLG has announced a £250m investment to deliver almost 25,000 more homes, including £157m for housing infrastructure in Cumbria and Devon
Cash boost to help build 200,000 homes in new garden towns
A £9m cash injection to speed up the locally-led building of new garden towns and villages across the country has been announced.
Most English local authorities ‘plan to raise council tax’
Three-quarters of local authorities are set to increase tax by more than 2.5% from April, the Local Government Information Unit (LGiU) said.
Rents fall as proportion of income, report shows
The proportion of income spent on rent in the private rented sector has fallen from 35.4% in 2010/11 to 32.9% in 2017/18, new figures from the English Housing Survey reveal.
Wednesday 13 February 2019
James Brokenshire heralds new law protecting tenants from unfair letting fees
The MHCLG heralds new laws that ensures tenants will be protected from unfair letting fees and will see their tenancy deposits capped at 5 weeks’ rent, as the tenant fees bill receives Royal Assent.
Government refuses to act on DWP ‘inhumanity’
Potential overhaul of DWP sanctions is fobbed off, despite admission that Universal Credit has led to rocketing foodbank use.
Closing ALMOs produces mixed results for housing services, research reveals
Local authorities often cite efficiency savings and performance improvements as reasons for taking the service back in house, but Inside Housing’s research suggests the picture is mixed.
Read more… (registration required)
Bid at Westminster to avert housing association crisis in NI
The government is proposing to introduce legislation at Westminster to head off a crisis in Northern Ireland housing associations, due to the reclassification of housing associations from the private to the public sector.
Tuesday 12 February 2019
Amber Rudd admits Universal Credit rollout linked to food bank use
She added that the “main issue” behind a spike in reliance on food banks may have been claimants not being able to access welfare support quickly enough.
MHCLG: Planning appeals could be ‘cut’ by five months
Bridget Rosewell CBE said the average time to decide a planning appeal inquiry could be slashed from an average of 47 weeks to around 26 weeks.
Social housing new build spend up 11% but repairs work drops
The Office for National Statistics’ construction output figures for December found that £587m was spent on delivering new homes in the social housing sector across the month, up by 10.9% when compared with November.
Read more… (registration required)
View the full ONS construction output update here.
Tens of thousands of landlords could be unaware of inaccurate EPC certificates
Up to 2.5m Energy Performance Certificates in the UK are wrong due to inaccurate measurement standards and practices and it means landlords could be unwittingly breaking the law.
TES: How poor housing is harming our pupils
Emma Bradshaw, head of The Limes College pupil referral unit (PRU) in Sutton, south London, says that more than half her pupils now have housing problems, three times as many as in 2010.
Monday 11 February 2019
More than a third of UK babies ‘live in poverty’
In an analysis of government data for the BBC, the JRF said in 2016-17 there were 302,838 children under the age of one living in families with a household income substantially below the UK average – its definition of poverty.
Download the JRF’s “Households below a Minimum Income Standard: 2008/09 to 2016/17” report here.
Families facing perfect storm of rises in utility bills
Price hikes in essential utilities that are set to be introduced in April could result in families plunging into the red and having to turn to moneylenders, consumer campaigners have warned.
James Brokenshire unveils next steps to building integrated communities
The Integrated Communities Action Plan has set out its next steps to promote better integration amongst communities.
Institute for Fiscal Studies: If the coming spending review is to end austerity Chancellor will need to find extra billions
A report from the IFS finds that public borrowing is now down below pre-crisis levels, but to avoid any cut to real-terms per capita spending on unprotected services would require an additional £5bn by 2023–24.
LSE: Low income households under austerity: a notable rise in debt for essential needs
Looking at low income household indebtedness in austerity Britain, LSE finds that the poorest households have experienced the greatest growth in unsecured debt to income ratio. More importantly, unlike the pre-crisis period when debt reflected a desire ‘to keep up with the Joneses’, in recent years there has been a rise in debt for essential needs such as rent, food and utilities.