Category

Social Housing

Boost for housing market as Japan’s biggest housebuilder, Sekisui House, moves into UK

By | Residential Property, Social Housing

Japan’s biggest housebuilder will move into the UK housing market with immediate effect after striking a multi-million pound deal that will see it work with Homes England and Urban Splash to deliver thousands of new homes across England.

  • £90m investment boost to the UK housing market
  • Sekisui take a 35% equity stake in Urban Splash’s modular House business
  • Investment will deliver new housing stock using modern methods of construction

Sekisui House, one of the world’s leading housebuilders, are pioneers of modern methods of construction, where homes are built in factories and then shipped out to sites.

The £90m deal, which has been facilitated by lead real estate and financial advisor JLL, comprises a total new investment of £55m into regeneration company Urban Splash’s ‘House’ development business. It provides a significant boost to the UK’s modular housing industry and will help to speed up production of much-needed new homes.

Sekisui House have invested £22m of new equity, with £30m of equity and debt funding coming from the Government’s Home Building Fund, administered through Homes England.

Experienced entrepreneur Noel McKee, founder of We Buy Any Car, has also made a sizeable investment in the new partnership and will take an incremental c 5% stake.

Yoshihiro Nakai, President and Representative Director of Sekisui House Ltd said:

“We are extremely pleased to be able to work together with Homes England and Urban Splash to establish our operations and help to create outstanding communities in the UK.

“Using modern methods of construction to build high quality homes with short build times is one of our company’s great strengths. Our technology and know-how can help resolve pressing social issues in the UK, and I want to see us play our part effective immediately. These operations can also help bring vitality to UK regions, and we will work to make the strongest connections with the local communities.”

‘House’ is expected to deliver thousands of homes across England using modern methods of construction.

Minister of State for Housing, Kit Malthouse MP, said:

“Sekisui House bring with them a proven track record in harnessing the modern methods of construction that are transforming home building.

“Backed by Government investment, today’s announcement will support our urgent mission to deliver more, better and faster home construction to ensure a new generation can realise the dream of home ownership.”

Homes England, the government’s housing accelerator, has been instrumental in providing significant financial support and expertise to the new partnership as well as providing assurance to the investors.

Sir Edward Lister, Chair of Homes England, said:

“When Homes England launched last year we said we’d disrupt the housing market to increase the pace of construction. By helping bring one of the world’s largest and most innovative housebuilders to UK shores, we’re putting our money where our mouth is.

“By creating a more diverse landscape – where smaller builders such as Urban Splash get a stronger foothold – we’re rebuilding the building industry; driving up quality and improving consumer choice.”

Tom Bloxham MBE, Chairman of Urban Splash, said:

“We believe that there is a real opportunity in the UK housebuilding industry. We hope to leverage our 25 years of place-making experience and our recent investments into modular housing by bringing in new partners; having looked far and wide we chose Sekisui House from Japan because of the company’s unrivalled global experience in modular construction and shared values and philosophy that we are making homes not units, and a joint belief in the need for a green future.

“We are also proud to partner with Homes England – part of the UK Government – because of their commitment to modular and desire to grow capacity in the UK housing business.

“We are incredibly excited about the accelerated production of much-needed homes and evolving traditional practices as we embrace the benefits of innovative offsite construction. I hope it will establish us as the housing partner of choice for landowners – both public and private.”

Source: Homes England

Chancellor offers £3bn fix for Britain’s ‘broken housing market’

By | Residential Property, Social Housing

Philip Hammond’s spring statement includes funding to build 30,000 affordable homes.

A new £3bn scheme will fund the building of 30,000 affordable homes, the chancellor has said, as he proclaimed that the government was on track to reach its target of 300,000 new homes a year in Britain.

Philip Hammond’s spring statement also contained a patchwork of separate schemes to boost housebuilding, including £717m to “unlock up to 37,000 homes” in the Oxford-Cambridge arc, Cheshire and west London.

“The government is determined to fix the broken housing market,” said Hammond. “Building more homes in the right places is critical to unlocking productivity growth and makes housing more affordable.”

Under the affordable homes guarantee scheme – an existing programme that will receive renewed government support – the government does not directly fund new homes but gives a Treasury guarantee to housing associations to allow them to build.

The housing charity Shelter said while it welcomed the boost for affordable homes, borrowing by housing associations would not solve the housing crisis, and the government needed to fund much higher levels of social housing.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “The government’s decision to renew the affordable housing guarantee scheme is a welcome announcement. This initiative will support the building of more desperately needed social and affordable homes.

“While this is good news, it has to be noted that we can’t deliver social housing on the scale we need on borrowing alone – 3.1m social homes are needed in the next 20 years to tackle the housing crisis at its root and lift thousands of families out of homelessness. We need much more grant funding for social housing in this year’s spending review to get a grip on our ever-growing housing emergency.”

Official government figures show that affordable homes – for sale or to rent – make up a relatively small, but growing, part of the housing supply in England.

In the six months to 30 September 2018, there were 9,909 new affordable homes started, up from 6,989 in the same period of 2017.

The definition of what “affordable” means is controversial. The government defines it as “social rented, affordable rented and intermediate housing, provided to eligible households whose needs are not met by the market”. It includes shared ownership homes for sale “provided at a cost above social rent, but below market levels”.

Source: The Guardian

Government confirms annual CPI+1 Rent Increase

By | Publications & Reports, Social Housing

The Government has indicated that it will permit annual rent increases of up to one per cent above the consumer price index (CPI), in it’s response to a consultation with the sector.

The MHCLG announced plans in October 2017 to permit Registered Providers to increase rents on social rent and affordable rent properties by up to CPI plus 1% each year from 2020, for a period of at least five years.

In September 2018 it launched a consultation on its proposed direction to the Regulator of Social Housing concerning social rents from 1 April 2020 onwards, which closed on 8 November. Yesterday it published the results of that consultation and it’s response.

Seventy-one per cent of respondents to the consultation agreed that the regulator’s Rent Standard should apply to local authorities.

Meanwhile 57 per cent agreed with the proposal to permit Registered Providers to increase rents by up to CPI plus one per cent each year. However 34 per cent of those responding to this question disagreed with the proposal, including 87 per cent of responses from individuals and organisations representing tenants.

The MHCLG stated in its response: “The government acknowledges the concerns raised about the potential impact on tenants of permitting rent increases of up to CPI+1% each year from 2020. However, it is important to recognise that most existing tenants will have benefited over the previous four years from a reduction of 1% each year as implemented through the Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016. MHCLG adds that the CPI plus one per cent is the maximum increase but “landlords have discretion to apply a smaller (or indeed no) increase based on local circumstances”.

The response concludes; “Overall, we believe that the proposed CPI+1% limit strikes a fair balance between the interests of landlords, tenants and taxpayers.”

It adds: “The Government therefore intends to proceed with the proposal to permit annual rent increases of up to CPI+1%.”

In October 2017, Theresa May announced that the CPI plus one per cent rises would resume for five years from 2020, and the government launched its formal consultation in November last year.

The consultation received 157 responses, of which 37 per cent were from local authorities or their representative bodies. Eighteen per cent were from private Registered Providers or their representative bodies and 35 per cent were from individuals or tenant organisations.

 

Source: Social Housing

CBRE launches £250m Affordable Housing Fund

By | Residential Property, Social Housing

This month has seen CBRE Global Investors, one of the world’s giant real asset investment managers with $104.5bn in assets under management, launch a £250m Affordable Housing Fund. The investments are from 13 institutional investors, including social investment institution, The Big Society Capital. Twelve out of 13 of the  investors are new to the affordable housing sector. Coming from the UK and Europe, the institutional investors include “pension funds and insurance companies”. Hannah Marshall, Head of UK funds commented, “If you look at Europe, you can see that for many of the Dutch pension funds, it’s already quite central to their agenda; you can see some of the bigger investors actually implementing targets – wanting to have a certain percentage of their portfolio in impact investment within the next five years, for example.”

The Fund will invest in social and affordable rented housing, shared-ownership properties, homeless hostels and housing for ‘key workers’, such as nurses. It is designed to make a social impact, while targeting a 6% total return. Ms. Marshall stated, ‘Our strategy contributes towards our investors ESG targets, and generates a positive social impact as we invest in the funding of homes for those households unable to afford to rent or buy in the open market’.

The Fund will act as a Social Landlord, leasing the properties to Registered Providers, as opposed to setting up their own RP for now. Investments will be sourced from house builders, individual RPs and Local Authorities and will include “both development and buying existing portfolios”.

Impact investing continues to gain traction among institutions into 2019, and the trend remains for investors and real estate fund managers to explore the opportunity within the social and affordable housing sector in the UK. In December, Legal & General Affordable Homes was granted registered provider status, helping push Legal & General’s affording housing initiatives.

 

Source: Investment and Pensions Europe

Investment Week: Sustainable & ESG Investment Awards 2018

By | Residential Property, Social Housing

Best ESG Fund Management Group (Generalist)
Hermes Investment Management – WINNER
Kempen Capital Management
Martin Currie Investment Management
Montanaro Asset Management
Newton Investment Management
Pictet Asset Management
Robeco – highly commended

Best ESG Fund Management Group (Specialist)
Castlefield Investment Partners
DWS Responsible Investments
EdenTree Investment Management – WINNER
HSBC Global Asset Management
Impax Asset Management – highly commended
Kames Capital
Legal and General Investment Management
Liontrust Asset Management

 

Best Environmental Fund
CB Save Earth Fund
Impax Environmental Markets Plc – WINNER
Pictet Global Environmental Opportunities Fund

Best Ethical Investment Fund
Amity UK Fund
CB European Quality Fund
Kames Ethical Cautious Managed Fund
Kames Ethical Equity Fund
Newton SRI Fund for Charities
Premier Ethical Fund
Rathbone Ethical Bond Fund – WINNER
Standard Life Investments UK Ethical Fund


Best ESG Investment Fund

Arabesque Systematic
Davy ESG Equity Fund
F&C Responsible Global Equity Fund
Hermes Global Equity ESG Fund – WINNER
Kempen (Lux) Sustainable European Small-cap Fund
LGIM Future World Gender in Leadership UK Index Fund
Muzinich Bondyield ESG Fund

Best Sustainable Investment Fund
Brown Advisory – U.S. Sustainable Growth Fund
Castel Residential Property Fund
FP WHEB Sustainability Fund – WINNER
Hermes Impact Opportunities Equity Fund
Insight Sustainable Euro Corporate bond fund
Janus Henderson Global Sustainable Equity Fund
Kames Global Sustainable Equity Fund
Liontrust Sustainable Future Managed Fund
Royal London Sustainable World Trust
Wellington Global Impact Fund

Best New Entrant – Fund
Baillie Gifford Positive Change Fund
Castlefield B.E.S.T Sustainable European Fund
Foresight Smart Bonds Fund
FP Foresight UK Infrastructure Income Fund (FP FIIF)
M&G Impact Financing Fund – WINNER
Montanaro Better World Fund
UBAM – EM Sustainable High Grade Corporate Bond
VT Gravis Clean Energy Income Fund

Best New Entrant – Services
Heartwood Sustainable Multi Asset Strategies
Smart Pension
Tribe Sustainable Impact Model Portfolio Service – WINNER

Award for Innovation (Funds)
Amundi Planet Emerging Green One
Castlefield B.E.S.T Sustainable Portfolio Fund
Davy ESG ex Fossil Fuels
HSBC Global Lower Carbon Bond Fund
Mirova Natural Capital Althelia Funds
Pictet Global Environmental Opportunities Fund
RobecoSAM Global SDG Credits Fund – WINNER
Standard Life Investments Global Equity Impact Fund
Threadneedle (Lux) European Social Bond Fund
Trium Morphic ESG L/S UCITS

Award for Innovation (Portfolios)
Canaccord ESG Service
Barclays Sustainable Total Return Strategy
Financial Express Investments – Responsibly Managed Portfolios
Thomas and Thomas Pro-Ethical Portfolio Service – WINNER

Award for Innovation (Non-fund)
Arabesque S-Ray
CPR Asset Management – Risk Management through ESG material signals
ixo Protocol – WINNER
Schroders Climate Progress Dashboard
Thomson Reuters ESG Data

Award for Innovation (Research & Methodology)
BMO Global Asset Management – SDG Mapping and Engagement
Bridges Fund Management – Impact Management Project – WINNER
Davy Asset Management – ESG Valuation Model
Morningstar® Portfolio Carbon Risk ScoreTM
RobecoSAM SDG framework
S&P Global Ratings Green Evaluation
Thomson Reuters Diversity & Inclusion Index
Tribe Impact Methodology
WHEB Asset Management – Impact Report 2017 and Interactive Impact Microsite

Best ESG Research Team
AVPN
BMO Global Asset Management – WINNER
DWS
Hermes Investment Management
Montanaro Asset Management
S&P Global Ratings
Storebrand Asset Management

Best Thought Leadership Paper on Sustainable Investing
AVPN – The Continuum of Capital in Asia – WINNER
Castlefield Investment Partners – Corporate Governance – “Remuneration: Pension Provisions”
DWS – Measuring Physical Climate Risk in Equity Portfolios
EdenTree Investment Management – The Future of Work
Fidelity – Pulling away: Inequality as an ESG risk
Hermes – Modern Slavery: The true cost of cobalt mining
Lazard Asset Management – The Growing Importance of the “E” in ESG / Giving Credit Where It’s Due
Morningstar – Passive Fund Providers Take an Active Approach to Investment Stewardship
P1 Investment Management – Investing in extreme weather conditions
Schroders – Carbon Value at Risk

 

Source: Investment Week 2018

More Than 3 Million New Social Homes Needed To Tackle ‘Worsening’ Housing Crisis – Shelter

By | Social Housing

Housing charity recommends social homes be extended to those who may not qualify under current system.

Millions of social homes should be built over the next 20 years to tackle the “worsening” housing crisis and extend provision to more people in need, housing charity Shelter has said.

Some 3.1 million new homes are needed to provide for homeless households and those living in poor conditions, people living with a disability or long-term illness, and over-55s.

But the landmark report also recommends that those in need who would not qualify under the current system should also be provided for. That includes “trapped renters” – young families stuck with expensive rents and little prospect of being able to buy their own home.

The 220-page ‘Building for our future: a vision for social housing’ report was launched following the Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017, bringing together 16 independent commissioners including Labour MP Ed Miliband, Baroness Doreen Lawrence and Grenfell survivor Ed Daffarn.

Commissioners spent one year speaking with hundreds of social tenants, 31,000 members of the public, and housing experts. Shelter will present their recommendations to the Prime Minister and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn today.

Among the proposals put forward are the construction of 1.27 million homes for homeless households, those living with a disability or long-term illness, or living in very poor conditions.

It suggests nearly 700,000 homes be built for older private renters struggling with high housing costs beyond retirement, in figures calculated using government data and figures from the Office for National Statistics.

The charity also calls for 1.17 million homes for trapped renters.

Among them is Lucie, who works full-time as a welfare case officer in a charity.

The 30-year-old rents privately and lives with her two children aged 11 and 6, but says they have had to move eight times since her daughter was born in 2007.

“I really feel that if I’d been offered social housing and I’d been able to live somewhere affordable for the last ten years, I think I’d probably be in a position now where I could buy my own property, and that social home could then go back to someone else who needs it,” she said.

“But because I’ve had to move so many times, and rents are so high – the financial implications have been devastating. It simply hasn’t been possible for me to save the money. Just that little bit of stability for me and my children would have made a big difference.”

The report found that just 6,500 more social homes were provided last year, but Shelter is calling for 155,000 to be built between now and 2039, each home partially funded by the government.

The commission suggests that the scheme is the best way to ensure the government reaches its goal to build 300,000 houses a year.

The proposals would cost nearly £11bn on average each year during construction, yet it is estimated that the benefits will outweigh the costs as some two-thirds would be recouped through housing benefit savings and an increase in tax revenue.

Research from Capital Economics estimates that the investment will have “fully paid for itself” after 39 years.

I really feel that if I’d been offered social housing and I’d been able to live somewhere affordable for the last ten years, I think I’d probably be in a position now where I could buy my own property

Alongside “essential” reforms, the charity is calling for a new “Ofsted-style” regulator to protect residents and put in place common standards across both social and private renting.

It also recommends an organisation be set up to better represent social housing tenants’ views in central and local government, and measures to be put in place to ensure enough investment to maintain social housing and neighbourhoods.

Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, one of the report’s commissioners, said: “Social mobility has been decimated by decades of political failure to address our worsening housing crisis. Half of young people cannot buy, and thousands face the horror of homelessness.

“Our vision for social housing presents a vital political opportunity to reverse this decay. It offers the chance of a stable home to millions of people, providing much needed security and a step up for young families trying to get on in life and save for their future. We simply cannot afford not to act.”

Miliband added such a vision would be a way to “restore hope, build strong communities, and fix the broken housing market”.

He said: “The time for the government to act is now. We have never felt so divided as a nation, but building social homes is a  priority for people right across our country. This is a moment for political boldness on social housing investment that we have not seen for a generation.”

John Healey MP, Labour’s shadow housing secretary, said: “Housing will be at the heart of the next Labour government’s plans to rebuild Britain, with a million new genuinely low-cost homes in the first ten years alone.”

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has been contacted for comment.

Source: Huffington Post UK

Making sense of ESG popularity

By | Residential Property, Social Housing

The rise of ethical funds and sustainable investment brings into question just how broad and subjective the space can be  

One of 2018’s most-used buzzwords in investment has been “ethical”. The rise in popularity of environmental, social and governance investing has been widespread, and in 2017 more than £1bn of net retail money flowed into ethical funds, the highest annual inflows on record.

As of October this year, ethical funds under management reached £16bn, representing a 1.3 per cent share of industry FUM, according to the Investment Association. In the month of October alone, net retail inflows reached £91m.

So where did it all begin? The origins of responsible investing in the UK date back to efforts of investors who were Quakers, when the society prohibited its members from the slave trade in the 18th century.

The same century saw Methodist figures align their business activities with their faith.

Faith-based investing is one approach to responsible investing. It is for clients who wish to invest in accordance with their faith, and many such investment solutions are available. The most prominent type of faith-based investment is Sharia-compliant investment, or Islamic finance.

As ethical funds have been gaining in popularity, the pressure is on for advisers to be able to understand the sector, and the diverse language that goes with it.

Investing for a better world

Ethical consultancy SRI Services founder Julia Dreblow says the work she has done in the past seven years is centred on how to classify this area of investment so it makes sense for advisers.

The interest of advisers in responsible investing has hugely increased in recent years, she adds.

Heron House Financial Management founder Saran Allott-Davey has been offering advice on investments aligned with her clients’ personal beliefs for 24 years. She too has seen a “significant increase” in clients’ interest as well as the availability of funds.

“I think part of this is due to the  high profile that climate change and plastic pollution have had in recent times and people realising they have to do their part,” she says.

Offering advice on investment solutions tailored to clients’ personal beliefs could be a way for advisers to stand out from the crowd and attract new clients.

Morningstar Europe director of passive strategies and sustainability research Hortense Bioy says that it provides planners with an opportunity to have a deep conversation with clients and connect with them.

She believes that offering advice on responsible investing gives advisers a chance to truly differentiate themselves.

Women and millennials in particular are increasingly asking for advice on investment in line with their ethical principles, she adds.

When it comes to regulation, the European Commission revealed in its Action Plan on sustainable finance that it is seeking to amend Mifid II to require “incorporating sustainability when providing financial advice” over the course of 2019.

It recommended advisers should be required “to ask about, and then respond to, retail investors’ preferences about the sustainable impact of their investments, as a routine component of financial advice”.

In preparation for any potential changes to regulation, advisers will need to have knowledge of the responsible investment landscape and any available investment offerings.

Communicating responsible investing to clients

A good start to map investor preferences is via a simple fact-find. SRI Services offers a questionnaire on its website, asking clients whether they would like to consider environmental, social, ethical or religious issues when looking to invest.

Dreblow believes SRI and ESG issues should be a part of every adviser’s initial fact-find questionnaire.

Advisers should first identify what issues appeal to the client the most based on the questionnaire outcome, followed by a discussion. Allott-Davey says sometimes it is clear straight away that the client is not concerned with aligning their investments with their world views. “And that’s completely fine,” she says.

She adds that when her clients show interest, the next phase is educational. She finds that clients usually have a “basic understanding” of ethical investments. This is where the adviser can step in to help clients navigate the market and introduce what solutions are on offer.

Apart from identifying which issues are close to the client’s heart, advisers and clients should together decide on the most suitable investing style.

Dreblow notes that despite the increase in demand, this area of investing is still rather small and many advisers can get overwhelmed with it.

Similarly, Bioy says that the seemingly robust landscape with a multitude of labels and approaches can pose a barrier for advisers to enter the space. She says that her team is currently finalising a set of tools for advisers to help them learn the industry language. The whole project is set to be completed by early February.

Jargon busting

The oldest and most commonly used approach to ethical investing is to start with a negative screen. This takes all stocks available and removes the ones that do not invest in line with the manager’s strategy. It is individual to each fund manager but can cover areas such as tobacco, arms, gambling, and can exclude companies based in countries they believe to have a repressive regime.

Dreblow explains that there are many different styles of responsible investing. She says: “Someone could look at climate change and say: ‘We need to avoid oil or mining companies’. Others would say that a better strategy would be to hold shares of a company and talk to them and encourage them to reduce their emissions.”

According to Dreblow, both investing styles – negative screening as well as responsible or active ownership and engagement – complement each other.

“They can work well together. From a company’s perspective, if [the company] thinks that people might sell their shares, then it is more likely to respond to engagement.”

Bioy calls this an “ESG value contrarian approach”, in which the manager looks for companies with low ESG ratings and an assumed potential of future increase in these scores.

ESG versus impact investing
Choosing investments with ESG issues in mind is not strictly a goodwill act. It can have financial incentives too.

As Bioy points out, excluding (for example) tobacco firms can make sense from an investing perspective as changes in consumer preferences, as well as trends in regulations, suggest that these firms are on the decline and do not hold much promise of future rewards for shareholders. The same goes for oil companies, she says.

Investing in companies which score well on environmental (such as carbon footprint), social (human rights or working conditions), or governance (this can include, but not limited to, gender equality) issues can be a savvy investment decision.

Bioy says: “Studies have proved that companies with good ESG ratings provide higher returns.”

Impact or thematic investing (investing which focuses on companies actively trying to find solutions to the world’s stinging challenges like a shift to renewable energy or waste and water management) are more likely to provide shareholders with returns than past winners like oil firms. Bioy says that the future is already happening; electric cars could fully replace petrol- or diesel-engine cars in two decades.

The final step for advisers is to identify the best fund options. SRI Services offers a comprehensive list of such funds, while Morningstar has a sustainability rating which evaluates how well companies in a fund’s portfolio are managing the ESG investing factors relevant to their industries.

With inflows continuing to go through the roof and more providers creating ethical offerings, it is one area that advisers must fully understand and be prepared for when talking to clients.

Source: Money Marketing

Allied Healthcare to transfer care contracts

By | Social Housing

A major UK home care provider, offering support to 13,000 older and disabled people, is seeking to transfer or sell all its contracts to other providers.

Allied Healthcare was warned this month by the care regulator about its financial sustainability.

Since then, some local authorities have already taken steps to find new providers.

The company says it is working closely with councils to ensure there is no disruption to people’s care.

Allied Healthcare provides services such as preparing meals, washing and giving medication.

Last week, the Care Quality Commission, which regulates such services in England, issued a notice – warning that it had serious doubts about the future of the company.

It was the first time the regulator had issued such a notice about the financial sustainability of a social care provider.

‘Challenging environment’

The CQC said it was concerned about the viability of services run by Allied Healthcare from the end of November and was warning councils to make contingency plans.

It said the company had failed to provide adequate assurances regarding future funding and there was now a credible risk of disruption to services.

But a company spokesperson said on Friday that the CQC statement had “negatively impacted” the firm, led to some customers transferring care services to alternative providers, and disrupted staff retention and recruitment.

“These developments have intensified the impact of the challenging environment within which we operate and come immediately prior to the Christmas period, when pressures on care providers are at their highest.”

The company said it had to re-evaluate its long-term business plan and was exploring the sale or transition of services to alternative providers, including the transfer of staff.

The BBC understands it has now been able to extend its credit by three weeks from the end of November.

Graph on fees

Who’s to blame?

By Alison Holt, social affairs correspondent

The watchword coming from all involved – in what appears to be the demise of one of the UK’s largest providers of homecare – is reassurance.

Allied Healthcare, councils, the regulator and the government are focused on making sure vital care will continue as normal for the more than 13,000 people, who get visits from the company’s staff.

No one can afford to get that wrong. But once handovers have happened, serious questions will remain about the pressure on the care market. Earlier this year, Allied blamed low fees from local authorities for some of their financial woes.

Councils themselves warn of a £3.5 billion shortfall in funding for adult social care by 2025. And campaigners describe the care system as failing.

The government has promised a green paper on the long term funding of social care by the end of the year. Previous deadlines have been and gone, and with so much political turmoil, the fear is it will slip again.

But for many, the financial problems faced by Allied will have underlined just how much strain the care system is under right now.


‘Robust plans’

Andrea Sutcliffe, chief inspector of adult social care at the Care Quality Commission (CQC) said Allied Healthcare had had “every opportunity” to put together a plan for its future sustainability and “failed to do so”.

She said there had been a clear requirement for the CQC to issue the notice so local authorities could be informed about the “credible risk of service disruption to people’s care” and could make contingency plans.

Colin Angel, from the UK Home Care Association, said: “Reasonable arrangements to contract with prospective providers must be put in place swiftly.

“Fees for these services need to be set at rates which are financially sustainable for both the short and longer term. ”

The Local Government Association said it was working closely with the CQC, the Department of Health and social services to ensure continuity of care for people currently supported by Allied Healthcare.

Ian Hudspeth, of the LGA, said councils had “robust contingency plans in place”. And he added: “Councils are confident of ensuring care for people affected and are also focused on retaining the highly valued staff that deliver these services to help keep the transition in business ownership as smooth as possible.”

Source: BBC News UK

Today is Independence Day for the English social housing regulator

By | Social Housing

As the Regulator of Social Housing becomes independent today, Fiona MacGregor writes that it is essential to have a standalone, fee-funded regulator


Today is a big day for the Regulator of Social Housing, as we become an organisation in our own right.

This change in status brings into effect the conclusion of the tailored review of the Homes and Communities Agency, which began back in February 2016.

It has not been a quiet time for the regulator, or for the sector, in that period.

Among other things, the Welfare Reform and Work Act introduced rent reductions, which are now in their third year.

The roll-out of Universal Credit is building up pace, with increasing numbers of social housing tenants covered by the new regime.

Private registered providers were classified to the public sector and then re-classified as private sector bodies by the Office for National Statistics following the implementation of de-regulation measures, including the removal of the regulator’s consents powers.

Over that period, we have successfully introduced and refined our operating model, which includes the ‘in-depth assessment’ approach on which we continue to receive good feedback.

We have also recently seen the introduction of the housing administration regime although, as with our moratorium powers, our aim would be to identify and remedy issues before those powers need to be used.

Our recent experience with a number of cases that have been non-compliant has shown that although we will always be co-regulatory in our approach, we stand prepared to take decisive regulatory action when necessary.

Sadly, there has also been the tragic Grenfell Tower fire which is currently the subject of a public inquiry.

While we await the government’s response to the recommendations of the Hackitt Review, the events at Grenfell Tower have sparked a significant public debate, as well as a debate across the sector, about how best to meet the needs and aspirations of tenants.

Some of those questions are reflected in the government’s recently published Social Housing Green Paper, as well as in the call for evidenceon the Review of Social Housing Regulation.

We urge as many stakeholders as possible to respond to both of these consultations, and for landlords, to reflect the views of your tenants in doing so. You can only shape the debate if you participate.

The green paper consultation may lead to changes in the role and remit of the regulator.

We are confident that, as a standalone body, we will be able to adapt to further changes as they emerge. Indeed, one of our core values, developed by our staff, states “we are agile and react positively to change”.

In the meantime, however, we think it is a huge tribute to our staff that you will not have seen any diminution in focus in our current role, and in our effective regulation, as we have prepared ourselves to become standalone. Support for that role, and for the way we undertake it, was underlined in the results of our recent Stakeholder Survey.

Becoming standalone means changes for us, such as the Regulation Committee becoming the board of the Regulator of Social Housing.

But for the sector, and our stakeholders, we actually hope that you will see no change in the things that matter to you – effective and proportionate regulation.

There can be no doubt that the need for effective economic regulation remains, alongside an increased focus on providing good services to consumers, both of which were very much reflected in the prime minister’s recent speech to the National Housing Summit.

The changes we have seen in recent years, along with any to come, reinforce for us that it is essential to have a strong, standalone fee-funded regulator, in line with the findings of the tailored review.

Source: Inside Housing

People should be proud of their council house – Theresa May

By | Residential Property, Social Housing

People who live in council houses should be made to feel proud of their homes, Theresa May has said.

The PM announced £2bn to build new homes in England, in an attempt to remove the “stigma” of social housing.

Under the plan, housing associations, councils and other organisations will be able to bid for the money to spend on new projects, starting from 2022.

Labour said the announcement fell “far short” of what was needed for the social housing sector.

BBC home editor Mark Easton said the government hopes the money will allow local authorities and housing associations to build schemes that would otherwise seem too risky.

He said the sector’s calls to provide more confidence about future funding – so the 300,000 extra homes required in England each year can be built – had appeared to have been listened to.

Mrs May told a National Housing Federation summit in London: “Some residents feel marginalised and overlooked, and are ashamed to share the fact that their home belongs to a housing association or local authority.

“On the outside, many people in society – including too many politicians – continue to look down on social housing and, by extension, the people who call it their home.”

She will encourage housing associations to change how tenants and society view social housing.

“We should never see social housing as something that need simply be ‘good enough’, nor think that the people who live in it should be grateful for their safety net and expect no better,” she said.

“I want to see social housing that is so good people are proud to call it their home… our friends and neighbours who live in social housing are not second-rate citizens.”

In mixed developments, she said it should be impossible to tell the difference between full-price and affordable housing, which should not be “tucked away out of sight and out of mind”.

David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, said the prime minister’s announcement was “extremely welcome”.

“This represents a total step change. For years, the way that money was allocated meant housing associations couldn’t be sure of long-term funding to build much-needed affordable housing,” he said.

He said that by changing the way the funding was allocated, ministers had given “long-term confidence and confirmed that we are trusted partners in solving the housing crisis, building new homes and communities”.

But shadow housing secretary John Healey said the reality was spending on new affordable homes had been “slashed” and the number of new social rented homes built last year “fell to the lowest level since records began”.

“If Conservative ministers are serious about fixing the housing crisis they should back Labour’s plans to build a million genuinely affordable homes, including the biggest council house-building programme for more than 30 years,” he said.

The English housing survey for 2016/17 reported that 3.9 million households – about nine million people – lived in the social rented sector, which was 17% of households in the country.

The funding covers the next spending review period, from 2021 through to 2028.

Downing Street said the money was separate to the £9bn of public funding put toward the existing affordable homes programme until 2022.

Source: BBC News

 

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