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).
The 3 million apprentices that the government hopes to have in place will partly be paid for by the new apprenticeship levy, whereby every employer with a wage bill of over £3m per year will have to contribute 0.5% of that wage bill to the government. The National Living Wage is fast approaching and pensions auto enrolment continues. So larger organisations – of all kinds and across all sectors – will face an increasing responsibility to help foot the bill for the “high-wage, low-welfare” economy George Osborne spoke of. Organisations that employ large numbers of relatively low paid staff consumer – co-operatives in the retail sector, large charities providing public services, social enterprise spin outs – take note.
Charities and others who depend on business rates relief will be relieved that there was no early announcement of changes from the review of this regime. However, the devolution of local authority funding will be complete by 2020, with local authorities keeping their receipts from business rates and no more central government grant. We have already seen an increased reluctance to give discretionary rate relief to third-sector organisations under the current set up, and these further changes will make colleagues feel rightly nervous. Communities will also wonder about the effect on community asset transfer policies of councils being able to spend all of their capital receipts.
On the funding front, third-sector organisations and faith groups will be relieved to see that the Chancellor resisted the temptation to raid the Big Lottery funding pot. The Government will also continue its support for social impact bonds, suggesting an ongoing interest in “payment by results”. Arts and culture organisations will breathe a sigh of relief at the protection of the Arts Council grant.
For those supporting the most struggling neighbourhoods, there are some hidden risks here. No uniform business rates could mean significant differences between the ability of local authorities to generate income – what of those councils that serve areas of market failure, or rural areas? What will be the impact on services as a result?
Tellingly, the Chancellor didn’t mention the reduction in budget for the Department of Communities and Local Government, which settled at an overall reduction of 30% in its funding. There is no information yet on the future of the community rights programmes, the encouragement of community-led housing, or the support for neighbourhood planning. So, whilst the initial headlines may not have been as difficult as some feared, the real impact will remain to be seen – and felt.
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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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