Village 135 – Extra Care Scheme officially launched in Wythenshawe

Wythenshawe Community Housing Group (WCHG) was delighted to welcome Councillor Susan Cooley, Lord Mayor of Manchester, to officially launch Village 135, a new £20m Extra Care Scheme for Wythenshawe and South Manchester on Friday, 8th August 2014.

This marked the start of work on this £20m development, which will provide 135 much-needed homes for older people, with an anticipated completion by February 2016. Over £5m of the investment was awarded to WCHG via a Department of Health Care and Support Specialised Housing fund bid through the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA).

Deborah McLaughlin, NW Executive Director at the Homes and Communities Agency, said: “We are delighted to support the development of new homes for the over 55s in Wythenshawe. The scheme looks great – I’m sure the apartments and the community hub will be very popular with the local community, and will play a major part in establishing Wythenshawe as a place where people choose to live and work.”

Located on the junction of Brownley Road and Hollyhedge Road in Wythenshawe, these new modern, energy efficient homes will provide a mix of 66 apartments for affordable rent, 39 apartments for shared ownership and 30 apartments for outright sale.

Nigel Wilson, Chief Executive of Wythenshawe Community Housing Group, said:

“We are delighted to launch this exciting new project, which marks the first major development since WCHG was created in April last year. These new Extra Care homes will provide housing for older people through a mixture of apartments for affordable rent, shared ownership and outright sales – giving the people of Wythenshawe a variety of housing options if they wish to downsize or want to find something better suited to their requirements.”

These purpose-built homes will ensure a high quality of life for older people by providing an on-site 24 hour care team and a range of facilities specifically catering for their needs. Residents will be able to live independent lives in their own two bedroom apartments and access the level of care necessary for needs, which can be adapted as needs change.

Consultation with local people has taken place so that they are aware of this new development and the fantastic resources it will bring for local people to enjoy. For instance, a Community Hub with a café will provide a focal point for residents and encourage social activity with the local community, who will also have access to this communal space. The development will be set in landscaped sensory gardens and the homes have been designed to meet full mobility and access under Lifetime Homes, ensuring the living spaces are flexible in design and are a generous size to meet the needs of the residents.

Eddy Newman, Chair of WCHG, said: “This new facility will also provide job opportunities for local people, both in the construction phase of the development, and when it is up and running. We also hope to work closely with The Manchester College in Wythenshawe to provide training and job opportunities in health and social care, catering and hair and beauty as part of the Community facilities on offer in the communal hub of the scheme.”

Councillor Susan Cooley, Lord Mayor of Manchester, said: “I am especially pleased to launch this new development as my theme during my year as Lord Mayor is based on an Age Friendly Manchester. I wish Wythenshawe Community Housing Group all the very best in this new venture for the older people of Wythenshawe and South Manchester.”

Local MP Mike Kane commented: “Support for older people will be a priority for me in my work as the local MP. I am pleased to see WCHG delivering a project which is directly addressing a gap in services for local residents. I look forward to continuing to work with WCHG on projects like this which are targeting community need.”

If anyone would like to find out more about these new homes for rent and sale, please contact Amanda Seals, Senior Manager, Extra Care on 0161 946 9581 or visitwww.village135.org.uk.

Healthy eating funding: call for proposals from social landlords

It is Public Health England’s (PHE) mission to improve the nation’s health and to address inequalities; tackling poor diet is therefore a key priority to helping people live longer and healthier lives.

Obesity reduction is one of PHE’s ‘big ambitions’ over the short and longer term to improve public health. Social landlords are important players in local communities and are in a unique position to offer support to achieving healthier lifestyles.

PHE would like to work with social landlords to help people improve their diet and eat more healthily and is seeking to fund small scale pilot projects, of around five to six months’ duration, will enable this.

The focus of these projects will aim to:

  • help people achieve improvements to diet
  • address barriers to behaviour change
  • demonstrate the role of social landlords in supporting this

As such, measuring and evaluating impact will be a key element of any project and the PHE will require a short report detailing impact and lessons learned, which we will use to support the development of guidance to be disseminated to a wider audience in the longer term.

PHE is now inviting proposals for funding for pilot projects. In the first instance, PHE are looking for a brief project plan by Friday 19th September 2014.

On the basis of this summary plan, a shortlist of organisations will then be invited to provide further details to PHE.

Further details and project specification can be found via the following link: http://goo.gl/4zKaWN.

The Northern Housing Consortium have been engaging closely with members around the theme of combating poverty including food poverty, holiday hunger and supporting their tenants around cooking and healthy eating on a budget, all the themes that were covered at our recent Combating Poverty Conference.

The NHC are aware that there is some great work being done by our members, and we would like to support you and your partners further, particularly around measuring and evaluating the impact of the work being done on the ground if your organisation is intending to submit a proposal please do let us know as we’d like to be able to support NHC members through this process.

For further details please contact Satty Rai, Policy Services Manager, satty.rai@northern-consortium.org.uk.

Credit unions at 50: call for evidence

The Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Andrea Leadsom has launched a call for evidence about the future of Credit Unions. The review seeks to explore:

  • what is the credit union movement’s vision for their sector, and how can the government help them achieve it?
  • what more can the private sector and wider society do to support credit unions?

The NHC will respond to the Call for Evidence and we would love to hear from members (in conjunction with local Credit Unions if appropriate) to enable us to provide a strong Northern viewpoint into this debate.

The Call for Evidence closes on the 1st September 2014 so please send through any evidence to Charlotte.Harrison@northern-consortium.org.uk by August 25th 2014. More details can be found here.

NHC research services

The Northern Housing Consortium has a long standing track record in undertaking research for government and our members. We have expertise across a range of quantitative and qualitative methodologies and experience in shaping research commissions that provide housing market analysis, customer insight and satisfaction, community based research and providing strategic support to key business functions.

If you would like to hear more about NHC research services and how we can help you, please do contact Barry.Turnbull@northern-consortium.org.uk.

Passenger Lifts framework

Lot 1: Installation and Refurbishment
Lot 2: Maintenance, Servicing and Repair
Lot 3: Consultancy

This is due to be published via OJEU at the end of August for PQQ expressions of interest.

We are looking for large, medium and small organisations from all of the UK to bid to become part of this framework. We know that having local suppliers on a framework is a key objective for most housing associations and local authorities therefore we need your help to advertise this opportunity to your local supply chain.

We will be updating our website throughout the process, if you could please direct your supply chain to our Consortium Procurement website page they will find the most up-to-date information and instruction on how to bid.

We will be using the Delta e-sourcing portal to run the tender exercise and we would encourage all interested suppliers to register on this system. If you would like to discuss the framework in detail please contact Louise Chase atlouise.chase@consortiumprocurement.org.uk.

‘Treat housing as essential economic infrastructure’ says report

Housing is so important to the economy, it should be treated like key economic infrastructure like transport, energy, and skills, according to a new report supported by the Northern Housing Consortium and two of our members.

IPPR North’s latest report ‘Home Economics: The Role of Housing in Rebalancing the Ecomomy’ was launched to a packed event at Thirteen Group’s Middlesbrough offices last week, chaired by NHC Chief Executive Jo Boaden. Shadow Planning Minister Roberta Blackman-Woods MP spoke at the event and endorsed many of the report’s ideas.

The report – supported by the Northern Housing Consortium, Thirteen Group, and Yorkshire Housing – highlights four main problematic areas, and makes recommendations to address each:

  1. Problems with planning and coordination where local planning departments lack the capacity and scope necessary to address the more strategic needs of functional economic areas.
  2. Problems with housing finance where current policies favour those areas with high housing demand and inhibit public investment where the residential offer could be critical in attracting inward investment and skills.
  3. Problems with land supply in key cities and places where there is scope for rapid economic growth.
  4. Problems with regenerating housing and neighbourhoods where there is low demand and weak connectivity to the local labour market.

Many of the recommended measures focus on giving increased powers and responsibilities to subnational bodies, such as local and combined authorities and local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) to enable and encourage strategic planning and targeted action at the local and regional levels.

For more information on the Consortium’s economy and enterprise work, contact us on 0191 566 1000 or email enquiries@northern-consortium.org.uk.

Efficiency team study into void costs as a result of welfare reform changes

The Northern Housing Consortium is trying to get some idea of void costs as a side effect of welfare reform changes, which have impacted re-let times.

Our efficiency team are interested in costs and re-let times for 2013/14 and 2014/15 to date, specifically:

  • Average cost of voids (routine)
  • Average cost of major voids
  • Whether this includes any decoration and, if known, average cost of decoration
  • Average re-let time (routine)
  • Average re-let time (major)

We would be obliged if members could return the information to nigel.johnston@northern-consortium.org.uk. If you have any queries, please contact Nigel on 07843356445. All results with be anonymised and we are happy to share the results of the exercise with all contributors.

Local Authorities look for solutions to the ending of Local Welfare Assistance Funding

Since the announcement that the funding for Local Welfare Assistance Schemes is to end on March 31st 2015, many local authorities are looking for innovative solutions to fund their schemes.

Local Welfare Assistance schemes provide a safety net for the poorest people in our communities to get access to emergency help with replacing basic household items such as washing machines, cookers, and beds. With the end of funding many local authorities have contacted the Northern Housing Consortium to find out how our Smarterbuys Essentials online portal can help them make the most of their resources for this important service.

Smarterbuys Essentials was set up when the responsibility for providing Local Welfare grants was passed from the Department for Work and Pensions. Initially given funding for two years, many local authorities looked for ways to maximise their budgets and approached the Northern Housing Consortium for a solution.

Having already set up an online store where members’ tenants could purchase a wide range of white goods and furniture without resorting to loan sharks, pay day lenders, and high interest weekly payment stores, the tools were in place to set up a secure portal where local authorities could access the same products without issuing vouchers or cash. This meant that the local authority was safe in the knowledge that the items required by an applicant would reach them quickly through the Smarterbuys supply chain.

Already partnering several local authorities to supply their current solution, and with a track record of being flexible and innovative, Smarterbuys are being approached by these and many other organisations – from social housing landlords to local charities – to provide a cost effective, secure way to get household items to those who need them most.

With budgets getting tighter, Smarterbuys are working with their partners to find innovative ways to make organisations’ money go further.

Many members of the NHC are setting up their own grant or low cost loan schemes, fearful that the demand upon the local authorities will result in some of their poorer tenants being turned away by the local authorities, as they tighten rules for receiving such grants to conserve funds available. Many are in discussions or have signed up to use the Smarterbuys Essentials portal to supply tenants that apply for help.

For their part, many local authorities are revisiting the Smarterbuys Essential offer with requests for assistance. These requests are being met with a flexible and open approach by the Smarterbuys team who are looking at many possible solutions to what is a problem for anyone dealing with the poorest people in our society. The Smarterbuys team believe that by listening and working with its partners and clients it has the right solution to help any organisation that needs a secure supply chain to get life’s essentials to those who most need them.

For more details about Smarterbuys Essentials and other Smarterbuys initiatives contact the Smarterbuys Team on 0191 5661000 or email info@smarterbuys.org.uk.

Consortium Procurement and LHC launch improved frameworks

The partnership between Northern Housing Consortium (NHC) and LHC continues to drive commercial benefits for members and has added two new collaborative frameworks to its portfolio.

The joint venture is pleased to announce the launch of its updated kitchens and vacant property frameworks.

Replacing the previous kitchen supply framework, the new Manufacture, Supply and Delivery of Kitchen Cabinets and Worktops and Associated Products framework has been launched in 12 areas across England and Wales. The framework will allow NHC members to have access to a range of products that meet a variety of different requirements.

The Vacant Property Protection and Associated Services framework has been developed to include a number of new services including pre-let cleaning, garden maintenance, and deep cleaning. The framework also includes inspection and clearance services and protection methods such as screens, fencing, alarm systems and CCTV.

Clive Feeney, divisional manager for LHC, said: “We are pleased to announce these two new frameworks, which are truly collaborative and have been delivered following engagement with the membership of both organisations. These frameworks reflect the strategic objective of the partnership to deliver social benefits and value for money to members.

“Unique to the market, these frameworks respond to the commercial and compliance requirements of housing providers, delivering value in an ever changing social and regulatory landscape.”

For further information or to arrange an appointment to discuss these frameworks in more detail please contact solutions@consortiumprocurement.org.uk.

Bid now for Cirrus and CarelineUK’s LEGO stadium

Cirrus and CarelineUK were delighted to exhibit at the Consortium Procurement Village at the recent Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) event on 24-26 June at Manchester Central. Those who were able to visit us may have seen this LEGO stadium displayed on our stand.

The LEGO stadium

The LEGO stadium

firefighterscharitylogo

In support of our charity partner the Fire Fighters’ Charity – the UK’s leading provider of services that enhance quality of life for serving and retired fire fighters, fire personnel, and their families – we are looking to hold a silent auction of the stadium.

How do I take part?

To take part in the silent auction, you will need to submit your bid to elaine.holley@cirruscom.co.uk, clearly detailing the bid amount, your name and a contact telephone number. The highest successful bidder will then be contacted within a week of the closing date.

Please remember that this is for charity and that the stadium is worth over £150!

Terms and conditions apply and are available on request. Contact elaine.holley@cirruscom.co.uk for further information.