On-the-day briefing Spring Statement

The Spring Statement 2018 was announced by the Chancellor today. The Northern Housing Consortium has, as we do for all major policy announcements, written an on-the-day briefing providing insight into what the key policy announcements contained within the Chancellor’s speech mean for the housing sector in the North.

You can view our on-the-day briefing here.

Is planned maintenance value for money?

Now there’s a question to get the brain cells working. For many, to even question the assertion that planned maintenance delivers value for money is heresy. But is it?  Given that the vast majority of social housing has been modernised in the last 15 years and most have “reasonably modern” facilities, is continuing with component renewal through planned programmes the best way to target investment and deliver value for money (VFM)?

A small, but growing, number of housing organisations are questioning the VFM basis for planned programmes, when replacement en masse was needed due to major components all failing the decency threshold at the same time following years of underinvestment. However, that scenario has now changed and components are likely to fail at different times, not at one convenient point in time. This is because failure of main components such as kitchens, boilers and bathrooms, depends to a great extent on the level of fair wear and tear they receive from householders. This is increasingly being supported by stock condition surveys which are predicting different timescales for component failure, even if the components were fit at the same time.

Against this backdrop, demand-led component renewal is the most effective and efficient way of targeting capital resources. This system relies on operatives referring main components for replacement, but only when they cannot be repaired. The work is then carried out quickly by a flexible, multi-skilled team of operatives. It does not require technical surveys, or complex specifications to determine the scope of work. It does not require bureaucratic tendering and evaluation procedures. It does not need complicated project management systems or contractor monitoring arrangements. And it does not require detailed monthly invoicing or certification processes to pay contractors.

All-in-all, demand-led component replacement delivers targeted renewals, to where they are needed, in a timescale welcomed by tenants, whilst saving considerable sums in terms of back-office support costs. It also drives efficiency in the way components are replaced, maximising operative working time, thereby further reducing replacement costs.

If you are interested in exploring whether such an approach might save you money for other priorities such a fire safety improvements or new development, please contact the NHC which has a bank of experienced Associates who have delivered these systems with considerable success in other housing organisations.

This blog entry was written by Jeremy Lester, one of the NHC’s associates. For more on how the NHC can save you valuable time and money through our associates, please see the Business Improvement Services section of the NHC website.

Guestblog: Ward Hadaway – Housing Sector Forecast 2018

Ward Hadaway logo

In its guest blogs, NHC Supporter Ward Hadaway offers the legal perspective and some guidance on some of the social housing sector’s most pressing issues. In this edition: a look at what’s in store for the housing sector in 2018.

On entering 2018, we reflect on the main outcomes of 2017 for the housing sector and discuss what we can expect in 2018.

Review of 2017

Looking back at 2017, a number of prominent events stood out for the housing sector:

  • The Housing White paper “Fixing our Broken Housing Market” outlined the Government’s plans to reform the housing market and boost the supply of new homes in England.
  • The General Election which gave the UK its sixth housing minister, Alok Sharma MP, since 2010 following Gavin Barwell losing his seat.
  • The supported housing U-turn in which the Government proposed a new ‘three-pronged’ funding model for sheltered, transitional and long-term supported housing from April 2020.
  • The catastrophic event of the Grenfell Tower fire drawing into focus product specification, health and safety and building regulation, management of social housing and the inadequacies of the local authorities in rehousing the victims of the fire.
  • The Autumn budget providing, amongst other things, an investment of £44bn into housebuilding over the next 5 years, a target of 300,000 new homes to be built a year until 2020 and a lift on borrowing caps for councils.
  • Government plans to abandon capping housing benefit for social housing tenants at the Local Housing Allowance (LHA).

What is the forecast for 2018?

The following key points are what we expect to look out for during 2018:

Government papers

The Government is continuing to work on a Social Housing Green Paper. The paper will focus on the safety and quality of social housing, the management of social homes, tenants’ rights and complaints handling procedures. In addition to this, the Green Paper is expected to consider how the sector can contribute to the Government’s economy boosting strategies.

The Government are conducting a nationwide ‘Social Tenant Engagement Questionnaire’ to obtain information on tenant’s views on social housing. The responses will feed into the policy paper and views can be submitted via the following link.


The Homelessness Reduction Act (HRA) is due to come into force in April of this year. The HRA will place duties on local authorities to try and help prevent homelessness by intervening at the earlier stages and some authorities will be under a duty to refer who may be homeless, or vulnerable to being homeless, to a housing authority. There is £72 million available to help authorities implement the HRA with a further £3 million being provided to bodies to update their data systems in order to monitor how the HRA is affecting homelessness in their district.

Changes to the GDPR

Changes to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) come into force on 25th May 2018. The main changes regulate more stringently how organisations manage, store and handle ‘personal information’. Day-to-day work for social landlords and housing associations involves dealing with personal information. Organisations must move to compliance by 25th May 2018.

A snapshot of the property market

Over the past 12 months, house prices have risen 2.5%. Savills and Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) predict a 1% rise in 2018 whereas Countrywide predict a 2% rise. A 3.1% increase is predicted next year by the Independent Office for Budget Responsibility based on first time buyers benefiting from the changes to SDLT whilst a 1.6% decrease has been forecast by Morgan Stanley. The supply of new build homes to rent has increased and as a result, JLL predict no more than 2% increase in rents for 2018.

With the uncertainty of Brexit negotiations and as always the possibility of unforeseen events (such as Grenfell) that tend to shape the landscape, it is always difficult to predict with any certainty what will happen this year. As ever, horizon scanning, preparation, and risk management will be crucial to deal with whatever 2018 presents.

If you have any questions on the above and how it will affect social housing providers, or any other questions as a social housing provider, please do not hesitate to contact me or a member of our expert Social Housing Team.

Joint seminar with the Northern Housing Consortium

We are hosting a seminar with the Northern Housing Consortium (NHC) covering Safeguarding in the Housing Sector on Wednesday, 28th March 2018 in Leeds. For further information and to book your place, please follow the link. Ward Hadaway frequently holds seminars with the NHC on a wide variety of issues concerning the housing sector. It is always worth keeping an eye on the NHC’s events listings or signing up to its weekly events update.

Our expertise

We work with Registered Providers across the country day-in, day-out so we know what kind of issues you face and the pressures under which you work. Our Social Housing Team brings together substantial experience and expertise to provide a full service tailored to meet your needs.

For further information, please contact Howard Walker, PR Manager at Ward Hadaway, on 0191 204 4446 or howard.walker@wardhadaway.com.