National Planning Policy Framework

The Government published the revision to the National Planning Policy Framework

(NPPF) in March and this was subject to consultation which ended recently.

Much of the content of the revised document was based on the outcome of previous consultations which the NHC has already commented on and we have responded to the detailed questions on the new revisions.

We would particularly like to emphasise the importance of the planning proposals to some of our current priorities in the Northern regions. The NHC is supportive of an approach to planning that helps to facilitate new homes and great places but it is important to recognised that many local areas in the North are focusing on the quality of the existing housing stock, with the use of developer contributions being directed to improving and revitalising neighbourhoods where poor housing is holding back economic inclusion.

The consultation contains many positive revisions intended to alleviate the national shortage of homes.  The proposals to simplify and improve the plan making process so that it is quicker and more transparent, providing the land we need for new homes whilst ensuring accountability are all welcome.   Ultimately, the effectiveness of the measures proposed varies and a step-change may depend upon an increase in investment and capacity in local planning authorities.

We look forward to continued dialogue with Government about ways to ensure the quantity and quality of homes and places that we all acknowledge are needed.

The NHC response to the consultation can be found here.

Homes England’s Shared Ownership and Affordable Homes Programme

The Shared Ownership and Affordable Homes Programme is open for bidding – funding is available for a range of tenures. We offer increased flexibility in 18/19 and beyond – using our land, working in collaboration and encouraging new entrants into the programme. Talk to your Homes England Contract Manger or email for more details.

The sector now has certainty over rental income, increased funding to £9bn and reclassification – now we collectively need to perform!

Key messages for 18/19:

  • Recent changes mean that there is now so much potential for growth and opportunities for a range of Registered Providers (RPs) and SME Contractors;
  • The challenge is massive but we must grasp this opportunity and not fall at the first hurdle;
  • Continuous Market Engagement (CME) is still open and substantial funds are available – including the newly introduced acquisition tranche payment, which can help with cash flow (ask your Contract Manager for more details);
  • We have a new framework for increased delivery of affordable homes;
  • Look out for the launch of the £163 million Community Housing Fund – available to community-led groups (or with LAs and RPs, in support) across England to support delivery of new affordable homes up to 31st March 2020.

Guest blog: Victoria Keen

Northern Homelessness Network – NHC MEMBERS ONLY

The Homelessness Reduction Act (HRACT) was implemented on 3rd April 2018, with the aim of reducing homelessness across the country.   It’s a comprehensive change to the law which will shift the emphasis firmly towards preventing homelessness. It is the first major piece of homelessness legislation for 15 years, which has been welcomed and perceived as a long overdue change needed to reform the current system.

The Act aims to better tackle the growing problem of homelessness, by focusing on prevention in local areas and to deliver better outcomes for vulnerable people who are often seen to be poorly served by current legislation.

The Northern Housing Consortium (NHC) would like to invite NHC members to the first Northern Homelessness Network which will be held on Monday 9th July, at Incommunities offices, The Quays, Victoria St, Shipley BD17 7BN from 10.30-12.30pm.

The aim of this network is to provide NHC members with the opportunity to come together to share learning and experience around the implementation of the HRACT.  The first meeting will focus on HRACT 3 months on, and to hear from members around their experiences to date, what has/hasn’t worked well, in addition we would like the group to consider future themes for this network. These could include; duty to refer, what works in prevention, accessing supply, cross-boundary/provider co-operation; link with Allocations and many more.

Future meetings will take place quarterly in a venue across the Yorkshire & Humber region, this is to ensure it is a central as possible for all NHC members travelling from the North East and North West.

if you wish to attend please confirm your attendance to, spaces are limited due to room capacity, so places will be allocated on a first come first serve basis.

Review of powers to deal with unauthorised caravan sites

A review of the law and powers to deal with unauthorised caravan sites has been announced by the Housing Minister.

The consultation on the law and powers to deal with unauthorised caravan sites is intended to resolve the distress that can arise for both the settled and nomadic communities – an issue increasingly raised in Parliament over recent months.

Since 2010, the number of traveller caravans on authorised sites has increased. However latest figures show approximately 16% of all caravans – around 3,700 – are on unauthorised sites.

In the launch of the consultation, Housing Minister Dominic Raab said: “The vast majority of the travelling community are decent and law-abiding people. But, we are particularly concerned about illegal traveller encampments, and some of the anti-social behaviour they can give rise to. We must promote a tolerant society and make sure there are legal sites available for travellers, but equally the rule of law must be applied to everyone.”

The purpose of the consultation is to obtain feedback on what else can be done to ensure that local authorities, the police and landowners can deal with unauthorised sites and developments efficiently, as well as any barriers there may be to the provision of authorised sites.

The consultation asks whether existing local authority powers are effective and whether local authorities could improve their use of those powers, as well as what other powers may help them in dealing with unauthorised sites.

The NHC is keen to hear from member organisations with their views on the review.  Please get in touch if you have any views to share. Contact Karen Brown

Find out more about the consultation here



Breaking through – understanding and collaborating with the NHS

In the year that we celebrate the 70th birthday of the NHS, we often forget that the man credited with its creation, Nye Bevan, was not just the Minister for Health, but also for Housing. His vision for the creation of the NHS was equally matched by a vision of a country living in new vibrant neighbourhoods, rebuilt after the war.  In the ten years after the war, 2.5 million homes were built, three-quarters of which were social housing.  Nye Bevan, like many of our greatest reformers, understood the connection between good housing and good health.

70 years later we find ourselves in the grips of a crisis, in both housing and in the NHS. Sadly, there is no longer one Ministry responsible for health and housing, and the division between the two policy areas feels far too large.

For many housing providers, integrating with health has always felt like the right thing to do. We all use the NHS, and the people and families who live in our homes often experience some of the worst health inequalities. Tenants, patients, service users, residents, customers – whatever we call them – are the same people, and it makes sense to work together to provide the help they need to live life to the full.

But why is it so difficult? Why does integration feel so out of reach? And how can we make collaboration happen when our attempts to engage seem to go nowhere?

As difficult as it may seem, integrating housing and health can be done. There are many great examples of housing providers who have made it work, who have taken the time to build the right understanding that opens doors, meets the right people and makes conversations easier.

HACT and the NHC are working together to deliver a Seminar in June that will build understanding about the NHS, and share insights about how to make it work in practice. The seminar will give housing professionals everything they need to know about the healthcare sector and the providers they are seeking to engage with.

From the outside looking in, the operating environment for the NHS can seem daunting. Housing providers often struggle with knowing how best to engage, with whom and with which organisations. They often misunderstand how the healthcare market works and struggle to realise the opportunities available to them.

Like the housing sector, the NHS is diverse and made up of a complex network of independent businesses.  Like all parts of the public sector, it exists within a complex legislative, regulatory, quality and financial framework.  As complex businesses, NHS providers have a range of strategic and operational performance frameworks that, together with defined methods of practice, drive behaviours. And the strategic environment is constantly changing.

The Seminar will build the core understanding needed by housing providers to support their engagement with the NHS. It will explore the key mechanisms and market dynamics of healthcare delivery and share examples and experiences from those who have successfully developed new partnerships, such as Home Group. It will be essential for anyone looking to improve their relationship with the NHS.

Case Study

Home Group

The concept behind the ‘home from hospital scheme’ is simple, says Rachel Byrne, executive director for new models of care at Home Group, which has 55,000 homes nationally and works with more than 26,000 vulnerable people through supported housing, justice and health services.

“Not everyone has friends or family to help them settle in safely at home after a stint in hospital, and without that support a patient can’t be discharged,” she says, spelling out the dilemma faced by hospital administrators countrywide. “So that’s where we come in.”

Offering a six-week package of home support, a team of eight full-time care organisers aided by volunteers work across in-patient and accident-and-emergency wards, assessing the needs of patients whose discharge has been delayed due to an absence of a capable carer.

The Home Group team does not offer hands-on physical care, but act as patient advocates, service providers, social groups and a patient’s extended family to help build a support network that not only eases their return home but seeks to guard against re-admittance. “And the scheme is proving as efficient as it is simple”, adds Ms Byrne.

“Up to 90% of our clients are frail and elderly,” says Ms Byrne. “They are often lonely and isolated. What we do is to put the practical stuff in place – make sure the shopping is being done, that they are aware of transport services such as dial-a-ride, and in some cases liaise with online services that can deliver.”

For Ms Byrne the pilot is part of a wider, emerging relationship between health and housing services, where social landlords have a clear offer, and where the results speak for themselves.

“Social landlords are geared up for this kind of role. In many cases we would be delivering this kind of care to our own residents anyway, but here we are extending to the wider population with great results. It’s a win-win situation.”

Book onto our ‘understanding and working with the NHS’ seminar here.

APPG Housing in the North discusses housing for older people

Chief Executives from the NHC membership were present at the last meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group Housing in North (APPG HiN) to hear how innovative approaches were being used to support older people to live independent lives.   APPG HiN Chair Ian Mearns MP also welcomed Lord Best, who updated attendees on the APPG Housing and Care for Older People and their work making the case for better housing provision for ageing communities in rural settings.

Tricia Grierson, the Head of Independent Living at Johnnie Johnson Housing Trust (JJHT), presented first on the various ways in which JJHT was helping their residents fulfil her organisation’s ‘living longer, living better’ ethos.  Tricia highlighted the Astraline service as an example of innovation driving improved support.  Originally intended to be a telecare monitoring service when it was first launched, Astraline today covers alarm and sensor monitoring, welfare calls, personal alarms to support independence, and support for people living with long term conditions.

Additionally, JJHT had also recently launched their Neighbourhoods Apartment scheme which aims  to save the NHS £1million by 2021 by offering a supported transition for patients from the hospital back home.  Here, tenants would be provided with suitable accommodation as well as access to wider support from JJHT’s Independent Living Coordinators.  Tricia emphasised that the combination of care but also support, for example financial advice or taking safeguarding concerns into account, was seeing a positive impact on tenant/patient wellbeing.

Attendees moved on to discuss challenges seen in the care and support system.  Central to this discussion was the recently published ADASS report ‘A Better Offer for Older People – Making extra care housing work for your community’ which suggests that not enough older people in the UK have the option of Extra Care when needed.  In exploring why this might be, the sustainability of over-relying on the largest supplier companies was questioned. An additional challenge was the care system’s ageing workforce.  A large percentage of care workers were reaching retirement age and there have been difficulties in attracting and retaining a younger workforce.

Lord Best was then introduced to update guests on the recommendations of the APPG Housing and Care for Older People’s inquiry into ‘Rural Housing for an Ageing Population’.  Findings and recommendations were published as the report ‘HAPPI 4: the Rural HAPPI Inquiry (Rural Housing for an Ageing Population: Preserving Independence)’.

Lord Best was enthusiastic in his support for smaller village developments for individuals who wished to move into a more suitable property but not move into large retirement schemes in nearby towns and cities.  Here, new build bungalows situated in or around the village would provide the suitable homes for older residents without requiring them to leave their community where they have a generational connection and social relationships.

Other recommendations from the HAPPI 4 report for local and national government were the specific allocation of housing for older people as part of Local Plans, as well as Homes England explicitly targeting a portion of their funding to providing for an ageing population.  Lord Best recalled previous successes where Local Authorities used social housing grants for specific types of homes, as opposed to ‘generic’ family homes.

The group discussed at length whether Stamp Duty relief should be aimed at those of pension age.  Lord Best felt that most subsidies for home ownership are aimed at young people.  At the same time, a sizeable proportion of older owner occupiers would benefit from downsizing but their demand was not being identified.

Building on Lord Best’s presentation, Neil Revely (NR), Housing Co-Lead, ADASS, informed the APPG of the upcoming Rural Housing for an Ageing Population Conference taking place in Harrogate 27 July 2018.  The event would explore the findings and recommendations from the HAPPI 4 report as mentioned by Lord Best whilst also looking at the policy context, challenges in delivery, and wider issues such as loneliness and isolation.   Neil was happy to say that the issues raised in the report had gained traction with various agencies and the event would have representation from the Local Government Association, ADASS, HousingLin, and the Northern Housing Consortium whose website was hosting further information on the conference and how to book (link above).

Ian Mearns MP closed the meeting by thanking everyone for their contributions. It was important that the APPH HiN considers a diverse range of issues and this discussion on housing for older people had certainly given everyone food for thought.

Full non-verbatim minutes of the APPG Housing in North 15 May 2018 will be available soon and can be accessed here.