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.

Guest Blog: Homes England thank Registered Providers

The Homes England NEYTH team would like to say a huge thank you for all your hard work to achieve such a fantastic result for 17/18. From a position of being significantly under programmed in September 17, working closely with our RP partners, we ended up in a position where we could have exceeded our investment target. This was the result of our teams working closely together to shape investment proposals and using flexibilities to unlock stalled opportunities. In the NEYTH we exceeded both our starts and completions targets. This is a great result and sets us up for an even greater delivery challenge this year. Now that we have proven and demonstrated that the North can deliver, we need to continue to build on this momentum and success.

The Shared Ownership and Affordable Homes Programme is still open for new bids through continuous market engagement – funding is available for a range of tenures until 2021. We have continued with our flexible approach for 18/19 and beyond – using our land, collaboration, working with our partners to deliver more and encouraging new entrants into the programme. We also now have the ability to make acquisition tranche payments, for which we are currently seeking a future pipeline of sites for 18/19.  The NEYTH team continue to use local delegations which means that we can speed up decision making, we ask in return that you speak to your contract managers and Homes England contacts at the earliest possible opportunity to discuss and help shape your programme needs, ambitions and new schemes.

The sector now has certainty over rental income, increased funding to £9bn and reclassification – now we must continue to perform and to increase our own ambition for the North. The challenge is massive but working together we can grasp this opportunity.

For further information, please contact Victoria Keen, Strategy and Information Manager, North East, Yorkshire and The Humber. Tel: 0191 497 7619 | Ext: 7619.

Safety in Neighbourhoods Network

For over 18 years the Northern Housing Consortium’s Anti-Social Behaviour Study Group has provided an invaluable forum for stakeholders to meet, discuss, and develop the services they provide.

Group members, taken from the NHC membership and beyond, have heard from expert speakers outlining the changes and challenges brought about by government policies.  These have included the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act, as well as specific issues facing colleagues such as domestic abuse and illegal tobacco sales.

However, budget cuts and restructures have changed the way anti-social behaviour is tackled.  It is clear now that ASB is one part of a wider neighbourhood management system protecting residents.

At the same time, multi-agency working has become an integral part of the community safety agenda. Today colleagues from Registered Providers collaborate with partners from local authorities and the emergency services in a number of ways.

With this in the mind, the NHC feels it appropriate to re-launch the ASB Study Group with a wider focus on all the work being completed to ensure safety in neighbourhoods.

The Safety in Neighbourhoods network will be free to attend for NHC members and will cover a wide variety of topics ranging from hoarding and neighbour nuisance to organised crime and the underlying role mental health issues can have in driving Anti-Social Behaviour. Most importantly, the topics covered by a mixture of guest speakers and colleagues from across the North will be determined by those who attend. The new group will also remain a forum to share ideas and learn best practice from a range of practitioners from other public and private agencies.

The first of these meetings will be confirmed soon and will include a session from Ward Hadaway looking at how ASB teams have been specifically impacted by the new GDPR regulations. Whilst there has been plenty of general information on GDPR, Ward Hadaway will guide attendees through how the new rules will affect, for example, ASB investigations, archiving, and sharing protocols with external organisations.

If you have any queries regarding the Safety in Neighbourhoods network, or you would like to input into topics covered in future meetings, please email Liam Gregson at

Consultation Response – Consumer Redress

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government recently published a consultation “Strengthening consumer redress in the housing market” which asked what can be done to improve consumer redress across housing, including whether bringing together existing redress functions into a single housing ombudsman service could be an effective way of simplifying access to redress.

This NHC has responded to the consultation giving views on the following:

  • The main problems with the current redress arrangements
  • What would best improve redress in the housing sector
  • What more could be done to improve in-house complaints systems
  • Would a single ombudsman service simplify redress across housing

The document also addresses what steps can be taken to improve redress across the market in the short to medium term and the role of redress schemes in driving service improvements.

Read the full response here.

The North West Housing Forum – Event Write-Up

Despite the terrible weather conditions that blighted the final week of February, a strong group of intrepid adventurers braved the elements on the 27th to attend the North West Housing Forum’s Debate on Regeneration.

The Forum, which is supported by the NHC, brings together the housing officers, Board Members, and Elected Members of the North West to debate and progress the most pertinent issues in housing affecting the region.

The key note speech was delivered by Professor Ed Ferrari who set the scene for the debate which followed. Ed underlined the importance of housing to society; whether through underpinning the communities in which we live, its role in supporting health and wellbeing, as well as the role housing can play in reducing the costs of the welfare state.

The Forum noted that regeneration now meant something different to different regions. In the south, and particularly in London, the policies enacted in the name of regeneration had cast a shadow over work done in other areas. However, as Professor Ferrari noted, regeneration when done well brought many benefits; from maximising the value of infrastructure, to supporting the sustainability of local services, through to spreading risk by strengthening a communities tenure and social mix.

With Professor Ferrari haven given everyone food for thought, a series of presentations by Forum members and partners showed how organisations were reinvigorating communities in diverse ways.

Phillip Whitehead, Regional Regeneration Director at Countryside, discussed seven ways in which private sector developers could help social housing providers. Throughout Phillip’s presentation there was a strong emphasis on partnership and using each other’s relevant skills to create integrated communities. Countryside understands that developments need to allow space for local shops and community facilities, hubs which neighbours can engage around. It was also important for partners to commit to areas, and to each other, long term; investment in employment and training, as well utilising local suppliers in the supply chain both bring lasting benefits.

Clare Tostevin, Director of Communities at RBH, built on some of the themes discussed by Phillip with a presentation highlighting how her organisation was building inclusive growth into Rochdale town centre. Central to RBH’s vision of regeneration was to ensure a connection between homes, people, and jobs. If Rochdale was to retain existing residents and attract new people to the area then a housing offer needed to match the aspirations people had for their working lives. With investment in quality homes, community hubs, and employment training, a vibrant town centre could flourish.

The Forum then heard about Bolton at Home’s UCAN service, another way in which organisations were supporting the ambitions of residents. ‘Urban Care and Neighbourhood Services’ are central to neighbourhoods and focus on local needs. The idea is to listen first and tailor a support package accordingly. Residents can access the internet and a telephone free of charge; receive advice on constructing a CV and searching for jobs, or just drop by for a friendly chat.

Finally, Tony Mousdale at Liverpool City Council informed attendees how the council was using Selective Licensing to drive up standards in the Private Rented Sector. Liverpool has seen a growth in the number of private rented homes, with the sector doubling in size between 2001 and 2011. An important facet of the Council’s scheme is a range of commitments known as the Ten Point Pledge. The Pledge will see the creation of a Landlords Forum and Advisory Panel to strengthen engagement in the sector and will also provide a robust stance against landlords who allow housing standards to fall below a satisfactory level.

The event finished with Forum members agreeing that more could now be done to convince key decision makers that investment should be directed to areas such as the North West. A further paper building on the discussions held as part of the debate was announced in the hope of supporting this work.

CIH Rethinking Social Housing Project Update

Melanie Rees, CIH

CIH’s Rethinking Social Housing project is now in full swing.

Formally launched in January, we wanted to get a national debate going about the role and purpose of social housing – and we’ve been blown away by the response we’ve had!  We developed a toolkit to help people to hold their own local workshops to discuss and reflect on what social housing is, its value and who it’s for. So far we’ve had results from 96 workshops (we’re very grateful to the Northern Housing Consortium for their support in delivering events in the North) and we expect to have even more by the deadline on 31 March. We’ve also had over 756 responses to our online survey. We’ll start the analysis in earnest at the start of April and will hopefully have something to share publicly by the end of April.

Alongside this, we are working with Ipsos MORI to carry out a public perception survey to help us to understand what the general public thinks and understands about social housing. This will happen during April and we expect to be able to report the results early in May. We are also working with CaCHE (the UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence) to build up a picture of who is currently living in social housing.

We’ll be sharing results as they become available and will formally launch our findings, along with recommendations to government and the sector, at Housing 2018 in Manchester on 26, 27 and 28 June.

If you would like to know more, contact CIH head of policy Melanie Rees.