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).
In line with the Government’s aim to see all local authorities with adoption responsibilities participating in regional adoption agencies (RAAs) by 2020, the Department for Education has approved the setting up of 5 new adoption agencies involving a total of 17 councils.
With this ongoing shift in service delivery, we have set out below our top considerations for councils:
- The Vision: is it consistent across all the councils involved? Has there been engagement with key voluntary adoption agencies active locally and regionally? As with any collaboration, the cultural and strategic fit between councils and VAAs can make or break the venture.
- Are there any Children’s Trusts involved in managing children’s services for any of the councils? Their ongoing involvement once the RAA is up and running will need to be documented and fit with the legal form selected.
- Legal Form: this could be a hosted service model through a joint committee or the creation of a jointly owned entity. As part of this, early consideration should be given to how decision making will work and who will be responsible for what decisions (including where decisions will be delegated).
- Procurement: in both models compliance with the public procurement regime will be necessary. Adoption services fall within the Light Touch Regime, so do your arrangements comply with Regulation 12, Public Contracts Regulations 2015 – whether Teckal or Hamburg Waste co-operation?
- Voluntary adoption agency involvement: Cross-sector collaboration is an expectation. Is there a need to procure this if the agency will be providing services to the RAA?
- Staff: the RAA’s staffing requirements need to be identified at an early stage to ensure both proper consultation and buy-in from staff but also compliance with TUPE. Ongoing pension provision and responsibility for past and future pension liabilities will need to be factored in.
- Assets: what assets is the RAA going to need to function? This could be anything from office space, to server capacity and mobile phones. Identify what assets each council has for the service, what can be dispensed with and what can transfer (including the basis upon which it will transfer or be made available to the RAA – taking into account State-aid rules where they apply).
- Support Services: which council or councils is/are best placed to support the operation of the RAA? In the case of a hosted joint committee, this will most likely be the host council, but both models could include a mixture of councils providing different support. How will the councils account for this support?
- Regulatory compliance: consider what each council’s current relationship is with OFSTED and other regulators. Is there anything that the new RAA would need to factor into service delivery? The RAA will need to engage with OFSTED and ensure that it has all correct consents in place.
- State aid: unlikely to be an issue, but once legal form and structure of service delivery and support are known then advice should be obtained to ensure there is full State-aid compliance.
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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