During the Covid-19 pandemic, much of the focus has been on shoring up existing delivery and, where possible, extending arrangements if it is not possible to re-procure.
Housing was one of a number of areas where in the election the parties tried to outdo each other. The Conservatives made “relatively modest” promises in respect of social housing; no doubt recognising that their vote would depend on “GBD” rather than new homes.
However, as Boris said, many of the electorate lent the Conservatives their votes. In our view, housing is one of the areas that might mean those new Conservative voters extend the Conservative’s line of credit.
All the parties included proposals for substantial new house building, greater rights for private and social tenants, action on rough sleeping and homelessness, and on building standards. The Conservative twist was an emphasis on home ownership – the VRTB and affordable housing (what we now expect to be the extended scope of shared ownership and the extension of help to buy). Delivering on a million new homes* over the next 5 years, was not especially ambitious given we currently build 180,000 houses per year.
What, then, from their manifesto, can we ascertain will be the Conservative’s “housing game changer?” What will put credit in the voters’ bank?
Though the Conservative’s promise on homelessness was not as ambitious as the other parties, nevertheless, ending rough sleeping within five years is still a huge task. There’s 4,700 rough sleepers in England and Wales – more than double the number in 2010 and the Government isn’t meeting its target to halve rough sleepers by 2022. In the housing sector, we are seeing the Regulator challenging providers of exempt accommodation which might, given the reduced statutory housing obligations to single persons, result in significant increase in that number.
Eradicating homelessness and putting in place policies to prevent homelessness happening in the first place should in our view be the top housing priority. From Sidmouth (of all places), to Stockton, homeless people are dying. Ending homelessness is what any decent society should do. Seeing a reduction of homeless people would be the game changer.
Across the country there are a number of social housing sector initiatives (and we have had the privilege of working on some of them). Many come from the Mayors who understand their local communities are shamed by what is happening.
Number 10 now has the opportunity to make the challenge a national challenge, looking at best practice and making tackling the issue one of the priorities across Government. If it does, the whole social housing sector needs to take the opportunity to support it; making preventing homelessness and providing accommodation suitable for homeless its priority too.
* In England, since housing is devolved to Scotland and Wales.
The Prime Minister announced on Tuesday 22 September a new range of restrictions to protect us from the Covid crisis, some of which will apply to charities.
Following the end of the possession stay on 21 September, Helen Tucker & Rebecca Sembuuze from our housing litigation team discuss the most recent guidance, priority cases and what to expect in court.
Covid-19 has resulted, on the whole, in a marked co-operation between contracting authorities and their suppliers as everybody focuses on maintaining delivery as far as possible.
Employment Tribunal rules in favour of claimants in minimum wage case – has the interpretation of “working time” changed?
As we enter a recession, we have been here before, and a key question is what did we learn and how can we benefit from that learning?
It is anticipated that as lockdown restrictions ease, and particularly with children and young adults returning to education, cases of meningitis will start to rise.
As we continue to emerge from lockdown measures and deal with local measures and the short and long term economic impact of Covid-19, local authorities will need to re-assess how services will be delivered for years to come.
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).
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.
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