Will you be Bidding for the Housing & Technology for People with Learning Disabilities Local Authority Capital Fund?

The Department of Health is inviting local authorities working with their local partners, to apply for funds from a capital fund of up to £25m for housing and technology options for people with learning disabilities. The fund will enable more people to live as independently as possible with the best care and support, greatly improving their quality of life.

The full guidance can be found here.

The NHC would like to hear from any of our Local Authority members across the North if you will be applying for the capital fund. Please contact satty.rai@northern-consortium.org.uk

Government Announces LHA Cap Freeze

The Government has announced an exemption from the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) cap for those tenants living in hostels and supported housing but is proceeding with the 1% rent cut.  In a written statement to Parliament, the Work and Pensions Secretary, Damian Green, said that he would defer the imposition of the LHA cap on supported housing until 2019-20 after which a new system would keep funding at current levels.

The announcement follows deep concern from the housing sector, charities and third sector organisations who warned that if the cap were to apply to those living in hostels and supported housing, it would see the schemes providing support to these vulnerable groups become financially nonviable and at risk of closure.  One of the chief concerns raised by those organisations working with the homeless and the mentally ill was that the LHA cap would mean widespread closure of many hostels and shelters which could force thousands of people on to the streets.

The NHC’s own research and member engagement on this matter has found that many registered providers in the North froze development of new supported schemes after the announcement of the cap last year with nearly all plans for future schemes left in doubt. The Ministerial Statement on LHA Cap freeze outlines the broad structure of a replacement model which would see Local Authorities receive funding to ‘top up’ LHA – however, many questions remain. Whilst the LA fund is ‘ring fenced’ it is not clear how long this ring fence will last – or indeed how porous it turns out to be. Equally, the impact on sheltered schemes is not yet clear. The government will shortly issue a consultation paper and the NHC will respond to this.  For more information on LHA issues please contact Policy and Public Affairs Officer, Callum Smith at callum.smith@northern-consortium.org.uk

Compliance in procurement and its pivotal role in the sector

Consortium Procurement has been offering procurement services to the public sector for more than 20 years. Our experience tells us that this process can be daunting and fraught with uncertainties.

As leaders in the public sector for procurement services, compliance is a key priority for us and we ensure that our framework agreements are fully compliant with EU and UK procurement regulations.

Our wide ranging portfolio of frameworks offers solutions – from Housing and Asset Management to Independent Living and to Tenancy Sustainability. Our procurement team has paid special attention when developing our frameworks to ensure the specifications are compliant with procurement regulations and relevant industry standards.

Those frameworks are:

  • Heating Services (Domestic & Commercial) – we have secured our members with a compliant route to procure their gas requirements under our Heating Services framework. Members are required to comply with the Gas Safety Regulations 1998 which has been covered in this framework.
  • Passenger Lifts – this framework has been designed to provide our members with a flexible and cost-effective route to procuring Installation, Maintenance or Consultancy services for the Passenger Lifts, Stair lifts and Escalators. The framework has been developed in line with the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER).
  • Asbestos Management Services – The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 (CAR) cover work with all types of asbestos containing material. Our members have specific duties placed upon them under these regulations as “duty holders” or employers, and as landlords. For local authorities and social housing providers, this can have a substantial effect on the management of their buildings, premises and properties.
  • Legionella and Water Treatment Services – this framework is fully compliant with the HSE Guidance HSG274 and The Legionella Control Association (LCA) Codes of Conduct enabling anybody with responsibility for hot and cold water systems to endure they are serviced and maintained properly.

Louise Chase, Procurement Manager at Consortium Procurement said: “In the increasingly litigious market we find ourselves in, it is vital that organisations comply with the relevant procurement and industry requirements for any activity they undertake. We do nothing but our best to ensure our frameworks fully comply with the 2015 public contract regulations and relevant industry standards.”

If you would like to understand more about our portfolio of frameworks or if you have any questions, you can give us a call on 0191 566 1000 or drop us an email on solutions@consortiumprocurement.org.uk

Lower Quartile Affordability Ratios find North East most Affordable Region

In mid-July, the Government published affordability ratios by every local authority in the country up to 2015. The affordability ratios are calculated using ONS House Prices Statistics (based on Land Registry data) and earnings from the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings. The earnings relate to the respondents’ place of work rather than place of residence. This means that affordability in commuter areas reflects the earning power of commuters. Ratios were published by lower quartile and median house prices and earnings. This article will explore lower quartile affordability ratios for local authorities in the North.

Since the introduction of the data in 1997, there has been a steady upward trend in the English lower quartile affordability ratio, rising by 3.45 point to 7.02 in 2015 (national and local authority level figures have been revised for 2013 to include revisions made to earnings and house price data) as Figure 1 shows.

Figure 1: LQ house price to LQ earnings (England)

affordability-chart

At the end of 2015, the average lower quartile affordability ratio for the whole of the North stood at 5.58; the most affordable region was the North East where there was a lower quartile affordability ratio of 4.87, followed by the North West (5.50), while Yorkshire and the Humber was least affordable with a ratio of 6.37.

It is no surprise, then that the most affordable sub-regions are in the North East. In Durham (3.63) and the Tees Valley (4.61) the North East has the two most affordable places in the North to buy a home. There are also affordable areas in South Yorkshire (5.00) and Merseyside (5.09).

The three most expensive sub-regions are dotted across the three northern regions. Residents of North Yorkshire (8.41), Cheshire (6.15) and Northumberland (5.98) require a larger slice of their income to be able to buy a home.

As Map 1 below shows, there are areas across the north with more affordable local authority areas – those with ratios of 4.5 or below but there is, along with Trafford, one large swathe of less affordable local authorities with ratios of over 8, stretching from southern Cumbria into North Yorkshire. The least affordable local authority in the north is Harrogate with a lower quartile ratio of 10.04, while South Lakeland (9.14) also has a ratio well above the northern average.

Map 1: Ratio of lower quartile house price to lower quartile earnings by Local Authority, 2015

affordability-map1

The current picture in the north is a result of year-on-year increases since the revisions in 2013. In those two years there was a 0.26 point increase on average across the three regions. Both the North West (0.31) and Yorkshire and the Humber (0.36) saw increases higher than the northern average while in the North East the increase was significantly lower than the average (0.12).

Indeed, both Durham (-0.13) and Tees Valley (-0.06) in the North East were the only sub-regions were there was a fall in affordability ratios and housing became more affordable. Conversely, Cumbria (0.61), North Yorkshire (0.54) and Northumberland (0.53) saw the greatest increases in affordability ratios.

Map 2 shows the change in affordability ratios by local authority. It shows, as in Map 1, south Cumbria features prominently. However, unlike Map 1, the authorities where affordability ratios have grown the most are pepper potted across the north. Again places like Eden and Harrogate feature with increases of 1.80 and 1.01 since 2013 respectively but also Barrow-in-Furness (1.07) and Scarborough (0.96) have seen significant increases over this period.

Map 2: Change in ratio of lower quartile house price to lower quartile earnings by Local Authority, 2013-2015

affordability-map2

By interrogating the source data for the affordability ratios, an explanation for the differing changes in the ratios may be gained. The relatively small change in the affordability ratio in the North East can be explained by both lower quartile house prices (6.2%) and lower quartile annual income (6.3%) increasing at a very similar level between the two years. In comparison, lower quartile house prices in both the North West (7.3%) and Yorkshire and the Humber (7.7%) increased significantly quicker than lower quartile earnings in these regions (2.9% and 2.5% respectively).

However, reasons for increasing affordability ratios may alter between geographies. Amongst the local authorities that are noticeable for the increase in their ratio include Barrow-in-Furness. Here, lower quartile earnings grew by 1.4% compared to an increase in lower quartile house prices of 8.7%. Elsewhere, while the 0.53 point increase in Northumberland can be partly explained by a 10.8% increase in house prices, this in coupled with a 4.3% fall in lower quartile earnings.

Contact: Barry Turnbull

barry.turnbull@northern-consortium.org.uk