As the UK’s social housing sector recovers from the initial Covid-19 outbreak and lockdown, now is the time to focus on the challenges that may emerge next.
Organisations can be entitled to receive financial assistance from the Government, in the form of state aid, subject to meeting relevant criteria.
We help housing providers, and those they work with, to understand the criteria and make the application process easier and less time-consuming, especially when working on wider projects. By involving us at an early stage in the project, we can ensure full consideration is given to state-aid use, rather than overlooking it due to its complexities and potential misunderstanding of use.
Our team has a range of experience and will work with you to meet your targets and contemplate state aid from all angles. We work not only with housing associations and registered providers, but also with local government, which enables us to provide practical advice using real examples, rather than merely pointing out areas of non-compliance.
Our services regarding state aid
You will receive detailed advice tailored to your specific needs, but we regularly provide advice on:
- whether the project is entitled to state-aid support;
- services of general economic interest (SGEI), such as transport networks and social services;
- de minimis rules, allowing small amounts of aid to be given outside of the state-aid rules trail;
- the use and application of exemptions – particularly the General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER);
- state aid as part of wider considerations when deciding on suitable alternative-delivery models for public services – including asset-transfer arrangements when spinning out services from councils and the buy-back of corporate support services, grant arrangements and other potential sources of aid;
- state-aid implications when councils undertake commercial activities; and
- restructuring projects to ensure there is no unlawful state aid.
By providing practical advice we can help you to understand state aid and its various rules, and ensure correct application to guarantee public funds are used in the best and most cost-efficient way.
Provisions within the Housing and Planning Act that remove the need for housing associations (“HAs”) to obtain consent from the Regulator to dispose of social housing (as well as to merge or enter new group structures) come into force on 6 April.
Such freedoms will allow HAs greater flexibility over how they use their assets and, potentially, how they structure their businesses. Our expert panel gathered to discuss the possible opportunities the deregulatory measures offer, together with the likely hurdles. Read the outcome of their discussion here.
Leader of the housing sector.
There is no universal approach to regenerating town centres. However, housing must be considered a key part of any regeneration project – providing well-needed new homes and economic growth.
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.
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.
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”
What is the correct approach for contracting authorities to adopt during these times, to navigate effectively the urgency of the situation alongside the legal duties on public sector organisations?
The new thresholds will apply to all contracts let and procurements that begin after 1 January 2020.
“Frustration” enables a party to get out of a contract where new circumstances make performance of that contract impossible or illegal.
Beulah Allaway and Martin Brown have contributed the legal chapter to a new book entitled 'Social Value in Construction', published by Routledge and available to purchase from 17 December 2018.
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