The Government first announced plans for a shared ownership right to buy in October 2019. At the time the sector raised concerns about the impact the plans would have on housing associations ability to borrow. An election and a pandemic later the Government announced, during the CIH Housing Festival last week, the return of the right to shared ownership as part of its Affordable Homes Programme (AHP).
EU migrants fill an estimated 6% of jobs in the social care sector in England, and the majority of them will be concerned about what a British withdrawal from the EU will mean for them in both the short and the long term. It is important that leadership teams offer quick and firm reassurance to minimise disruption to the delivery of the services you provide. Let staff know you are closely monitoring developments and will be responsive to change where needed. It is reassuring that it is anticipated that the status of the millions of EU workers already living in the UK will not change and any block on freedom of movement is unlikely for at least two years (if at all). Providers should ensure good communication with staff that confirms that there will be no immediate impact on employment and that the contribution of every care worker matters, is valued, and that you are committed to maintaining a diverse and cohesive workforce.
Government policy change
During the campaign, Chancellor George Osborne said that if the UK voted to leave there would be a further reduction in public spending in order to plug a £30 billion “black hole”. Publicly funded social care can’t survive further cuts when the gap between what councils are currently paying and what providers say good quality care costs, is already significant. Providers should use this time, and the anticipated review of the Budget, as an opportunity to voice the ongoing funding crisis in the sector, and argue for an improved financial settlement for social care that doesn’t require waiting for the next Comprehensive Spending Review. The Communities and Local Government Committee is already examining whether the funding available for adult social care is sufficient for local authorities to fulfil their statutory obligations to assess and meet the needs of people requiring care and support. Providers should engage with their umbrella bodies to help them prepare the most compelling and complete picture of the evidence as possible (the deadline for submissions is 19 August).
Change of sentiment
Most concerning for the social care sector is the vision of other EU nationals packing their bags and heading home or to other EU countries. As already highlighted, the immediate priority for all providers should be reassuring your staff that they are all valued, wanted, and that you are committed to maintaining a diverse workforce. Unfortunately, with the value of the British pound reading its lowest in 31 years, low-paid care work could become even more unattractive for EU nationals. It remains the case that the social care sector needs to do more to position itself as a positive career choice. Providers will need to focus on selling the opportunities that a career in social care offers, including the paths for progression and job satisfaction. Should the Government suggest a points system, or similar measures, providers will need to campaign to ensure that social care is included in any list of shortage occupations that may develop.
There are wider implications of Brexit on social care than just funding and workforce issues. With the predicted immediate financial aftermath, the construction industry is likely to be the most affected. This could impact on the number of care homes being built and therefore the number of residential places available to support people. This is likely to put further pressure on home-care services, although could also provide further opportunities to grow privately-funded care. The impact on the financial markets will also affect the funding of defined benefit pension schemes, and is likely to result in higher employer contributions as schemes look to plug the gap. Providers with these schemes will need to think carefully about the potential impact on their financial model.
Two final pieces of the possession jigsaw have been published on 15 September 2020. Mr Justice Knowles’ working group on possession proceedings has issued its guidance on the “overall arrangements” for possession proceedings.
One change proposed by the Building Safety Bill is the introduction of a duty holder regime, which will see statutory responsibility for the safety of higher risk buildings placed on key individuals
Throughout this pandemic, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has been publishing various “Statements on Coronavirus” (Statements) which provide guidance on consumer rights during this time.
A recent increase in COVID-19 cases in the UK means new measures are being put in place in an effort to reduce the risk of a second wave. Whilst the impact of COVID-19 continues to be felt, it is important to remain focused on the sector’s road to recovery.
Sometimes half an hour at a conference gives you the reality that has been staring you in the face all along. That was my experience watching “Change is on the Horizon”
Following our recent e-briefing on Possession Notices, Helen Tucker and Emilie Pownall from our housing litigation team discuss the impact of the changes on social landlords.
Not only has the possession stay been extended until 20 September, the notice periods to be given to tenants has been extended in certain circumstances with some important exceptions.
The Court has confirmed that a party cannot withhold its consent in order to re-write the original bargain.
Following the Grenfell Tower tragedy, building safety continues to be a key concern for social housing providers and their residents.
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