Mediaworks Announced as NHC Supporter Member

Mediaworks has recently partnered with the Northern Housing Consortium (NHC).

As NHC’s Supporter member

The partnership between NHC and Mediaworks will see Mediaworks provide digital advice and marketing expertise within the housing market. Mediaworks will provide sponsorship at trade shows, as well as offering member-relevant advice and insights. The partnership will ensure that members of the NHC have access to leading expertise in the digital marketing world.

Understanding the market

The announcement comes off the back of Mediaworks’ recent success with Home Group, one of the biggest housing associations in the UK. Mediaworks provides extensive digital support for Home Group, which generates valuable experience for our teams regarding the housing and construction market.

Mediaworks’ Managing Director, Brett Jacobson, commented on the promising partnership: “We’re proud to announce that we are now working alongside the NHC as their Supporter member. This partnership will provide members of the NHC with a practical approach to marketing for the housing market, meaning we can help them to improve their user experience, customer service, and digital-led initiatives.”

Kate Maughan, Director of Member Engagement at the NHC, also highlighted the benefits to its members following the partnership, saying: “We’re excited to announce Mediaworks as a new NHC Supporter. Supporter members bring external expertise and allow us to broaden the support we can offer to our membership of housing organisations across the North. In an increasingly IT-driven environment, we’re really looking forward to working with Brett and the team at Mediaworks to share digital solutions and help our members to make the most of their digital presence.”

Guest blog: New Housing Related Support system launched

Locata is ready to roll out its new Housing Related Support (HRS) system across the country.

The new launch was created in partnership with housing practitioners from Cheshire East who wanted a way to link applicants directly to support services.

The system went live in Cheshire East four weeks ago and acts as a referral portal for 10 services from four different providers.

It has already processed almost 500 applications for supported services (189 accommodation units and 155 floating support units) and placed more than 360 service users in support.

“HRS does exactly what we needed it to do by giving referring agencies one portal for applications for accommodation or floating support,” said Nic Abbott, Cheshire Homechoice Team Leader.  “It means we can clearly monitor our service providers contracts and report on their performance.

“Locata worked closely with our team to ensure that the system met our requirements and in true Locata style it has provided a simple solution to a complicated problem.

“We are quickly informed of voids and can in turn quickly fill them again taking account of our own priorities.  We are already saving time and money and seeing a more fluid turnaround of supported units in Cheshire East.”

The cloud-based software is available through G-Cloud and uses the successful HPA2 framework as its foundation, ensuring officers and clients enjoy a familiar and intuitive online experience.

The system seamlessly passes clients to the right support provider which can then give them the service they require. Each local authority can have as many providers as they wish on the platform and registrations can be accepted from multiple sources.

The HRS system is configurable so that potential partners can use the in-built flexibility to create a version of HRS that suits their needs.

The next system to go live will be in Monmouthshire.  They took a slightly different approach and wanted a time recording element incorporated so they can track the time a customer spends in support and the time that a support worker spends supporting customers.

Thanks to the inherent flexibility in HRS, this function is being built and will be delivered soon. One system, two very different partner outcomes.

To find out more, please contact Locata at

Member Engagement Dinner with Martin Hilditch – Editor of Inside Housing

Thursday 19th September 2019 – York

 Members were joined by Editor of Inside Housing magazine Martin Hilditch in York on Thursday 19th September as part of a series of member engagement sessions organised by the Northern Housing Consortium. We run a range of senior member engagement sessions, and all full member organisations are invited to at least one of these every year.

 Key Messages: 

  • Inside Housing wants to hear from Northern members to be able to ensure that coverage is balanced and Northern issues are addressed.
  • Concerns regarding the post-Brexit environment remain important for members and Inside Housing aims to track the policy direction of potential future governments as well as how members are preparing for, and responding to, any developments.
  • Members and Martin agreed that the issue of affordability should be placed firmly back on the agenda within the sector.
  • Concerns regarding the capacity of local authorities were raised as a priority for both members and Inside Housing, as well as the Northern Housing Consortium.
  • The regeneration of “left behind places” was discussed with members focussing on communities in areas with a high number of privately rented homes.
  • Issues surrounding fire safety and regulation, and the implications for members, remain on the agenda.


Contact address for further information regarding this event:


 Further Information

 Northern Housing Consortium’s Chief Executive Tracy Harrison began the conversation by outlining the importance of being able to constructively craft the message that the sector, and Northern members in particular, want to communicate.

It was stressed that this ability to be able to effectively tell the story of members’ experience is particularly pertinent during this period of unprecedented uncertainty. Martin Hilditch echoed this approach, outlining Inside Housing’s “open door” policy which enables members in the North to influence the focus of coverage in the magazine, he has previously written about this here.

He emphasised that the nature of Inside Housing’s research and analysis will be developed around the issues that members’ themselves have identified and their ideas on the best ways in which to frame them. Discussion moved to the main priorities of Inside Housing for the next 6 months and members’ responses to these, a summary of the discussion is set out below.



Conversation between members and Martin centred heavily around affordability, Inside Housing are keen to get the issue of affordability back on the agenda with the aim of being able to lead the conversation on this.

Martin’s main focus regarding this topic would be to ask the following question: “What is affordable housing and what is it there for?”. He was clear that this would include grappling with what affordability means to different regions within the UK. Members used this time to raise issues about social housing and discuss with Martin how these themes were best framed in the housing media. This was discussed through an exploration into Inside Housing’s coverage of the 100 year anniversary of the Addison Act earlier this year and how this was able to engage central government about social housing.

Martin outlined that this campaign was extremely effective in sending out a positive message about social housing that heavily involved the voices of communities by celebrating local achievements. The response received by the magazine shows that these positive messages gained a wider reach with a strong level of engagement. Affordability is also high up Northern Housing Consortium’s agenda with research due to be published in the coming weeks.


The Political Landscape and EU Exit

Unavoidably, Brexit remains high on the agenda for the housing sector with Martin open to ideas from our members about current issues of most concern and those for the future. This links back to Tracy’s introduction about the uncertainty of the spaces that the sector, and other sectors, are operating within and how these are best covered by Inside Housing. Tracy outlined the concerns about the current geographical differences in development across the UK and how Brexit will affect this. Members discussed these themes with a focus on local economies, many of which are low-wage, unstable and heavily reliant on a few major employers in the area. Lenders are now taking a proactive approach to understanding the extent to which the local economy will be exposed to the effects of Brexit. Discussions included the example of Nissan in Sunderland with members stressing how many people’s livelihoods are put at risk should relations between Nissan and the local area drastically change, as well as potential lenders’ attitudes towards this.

It was acknowledged these concerns about the post-Brexit environment rely on the direction that government will take on housing as well as other areas such as welfare policy. This will be determined by the outcome of a prospective General Election and the policies that the prevailing government will embark upon. Martin noted the current administration’s focus seems to have been solely on home ownership so far, which Martin has previously written would be terrible news for those most in need of secure, affordable housing”.

More recently, Esther McVey’s first speech as Housing Minister at the RESI Convention this month further hints that government policy will focus heavily on home ownership. Members expressed their concerns about the effect of the policies of this government or the next regarding issues such as Universal Credit and precarious employment contracts on tenants. This will affect areas of the UK in different ways. More clarity regarding potential housing policy in the future will come in the coming months when parties have had their Conference and during the run-up to a possible General Election.


Council Delivery and Partnerships

Martin discussed at length the priorities of Inside Housing regarding local authorities with the aim of research and analysis being able to identify the skills that already exist and locating the gaps where further skills are needed. Members agreed that there needs to be a focussed campaign on this as partners are not always able to fill the gaps left by the cuts to council’s powers and funding. This issue is particularly connected to members’ in the North as there is a high number of Band A homes that do not generate as much income for local authorities as other regions to be able to fund the services needed in local areas, especially for more vulnerable tenants and the impact on health and social care. A key concern is local development and the lack of local authorities’ capability; the Northern Housing Consortium are currently working with researchers to be able to quantify councils’ capacity and explore how this has disproportionately affected the North. Martin agreed that there needs to be coherent research of this nature, adding that the subject of “left behind places” requires robust but sensitive attention from both within and outside the sector.


Fire Safety

Inside Housing’s “End Our Cladding Scandal” campaign was successful in reaching audiences outside of the housing sector, which Martin notes is sometimes difficult to achieve. It focussed on empowering local voices and putting pressure on local politicians which in turn received coverage in the local and national press. A broader campaign regarding fire safety has followed.

Pete Apps (Deputy Editor of Inside Housing) spoke at length about the pressures that regulatory changes may put on members such as the costs of retrofitting sprinklers which, due to funding, could affect the development of other areas of concern. Members said they were uneasy about the current lack of consistent messaging when it came to fire safety, particularly regarding a “stay put” or evacuate policy that has been central to the post-Grenfell discussion.

Inside Housing agreed that there is a lack of objective advice on these issues and commented this is frequently discussed at their Fire Safety Network. Pete discussed the current government’s focus on the new build sector and how the fire safety issue may not be at the top of their agenda but predicts that it will not disappear. Martin and members added that these conversations would also have to include questions about sustainability and long-term investment in safe, decent and energy efficient homes in the North.

The Northern Housing Consortium thanks Martin for speaking at such a fantastic event for our members where we are able to help set the agenda for the sector and ensure the voice of the North is heard. Inside Housing continues to support the work taking place in the region, please look out for future events with Martin and other senior sector figures.


Policy Proposals from Party Conference Season So Far

Conference season is well under way and with a possible General Election looming the three main political parties have been setting out the direction of their housing policy. Below is a summary of what has so far been proposed:


The Conservative Party

Though the Conservative Party conference is yet to begin, Esther McVey gave her first speech as Housing Minister this month at the RESI Convention that outlined the policy themes to be put to conference next week.

The Minister sets the goal of government as helping people into a home and into home ownership”, calling the shortage of homes over the last 30 years a “scandal”. The focus on home ownership centred heavily around the new build sector, “…as we leave the EU and set about building 300,000 homes a year, we could become global leaders in the world of house building”. There included no specific social housing target, as the other two parties have set out. The Minister proposes that this would involve the Northern region by establishing a “Centre of Construction Excellence” that would create career opportunities as well as diverse and energy efficient homes.

She also referred to brownfield sites in her support of regeneration where she announced that councils will receive a share of nearly £2 million to crackdown on illegal development in the Green Belt with 37 councils receiving up to £50,000 each. The speech also includes a commitment to continue with planning reforms by delivering the Accelerated Planning Green Paper. Additionally, there was a commitment to the expansion of Shared Ownership and Rent to Buy as well as an announcement that the Ministry would work with the RTPI to update the National Enforcement Handbook.


The Labour Party

The housing group of motions that were submitted to be debated at the Labour Party conference in Brighton largely referred to Shelter’s “A Vision for Social Housing” report which concludes that 155,000 socially rented homes should be built per year as well as the frequent advocacy of expanding the national Affordable Homes Programme. It is expected that conference will prioritise the Green New Deal on their agenda with motions referring to new standards for homes to reduce carbon emissions as well as a wider target of zero carbon by 2030.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has also this month outlined a plan to develop a new Right to Buy scheme for millions of private tenants and increase taxation for landlords. He plans to “tackle the burgeoning buy-to-let market” where homes are not sufficiently invested in to make it easier for people to buy the home that they live in. The value paid for these homes would not be at the market price but a “reasonable” price set by the government. In a speech to conference over the weekend, McDonnell also said Labour would “get rid” of Universal Credit, which would change their plan to reform it outlined in their last manifesto.

Labour also plan to debate a proposal that would give local authorities increased power to purchase empty homes as well as introducing a cap on rent at a third of local incomes. Shadow Housing Secretary John Healey spoke to Inside Housing on Monday 24th September outlining that the £4 billion capital grant to build low-cost homes in their 2017 manifesto would only be a starting point. Healey says that this would “ramp up rapidly” after the first year. The article also reports that Healey said Labour want housing associations “to be much clearer and closer to the social purpose that many of them were originally founded [on].”


The Liberal Democrat Party

It seems that Brexit did not command every vote during the Liberal Democrat conference last week as their “A Fairer Place for All” paper passed as well as a successful vote in favour of abolishing S21. The paper’s focus on affordability acknowledges the geographical economic imbalance of the UK, citing that benefits and opportunities are “felt increasingly unevenly across our communities and our country”. Proposals within the paper include:

  • Increased powers of local authorities – Help to boost social housing by giving them the first right to purchase public land.
  • Replace sold social housing – Replace any social housing sold in the future with an additional pledge to build 100,000 homes for social rent per year.
  • Rent to Own – Set up a new Rent to Own model for social tenants and introduce a new Help to Rent scheme that would provide government-backed loans for deposits.
  • Reforming the Land Compensation Act – Landowners to be paid a reasonable price for their land rather than the inflated price that it might achieve with planning permission that it does not have.
  • Adapting homes – Developing homes with extra care provision to alleviate some of the pressures faced in health and social care.
  • Setting up a new ALMO – A new arms-length governmental body to acquire land of low amenity at current use value.
  • Setting clearer standards for homes – Enforce regulations according to clearer standards which would involve setting up a new regulator that all private landlords with more than 25 homes must sign up to.
  • Homelessness – They have proposed to end rough sleeping within 5 years and provide local authorities the means to deliver the Homelessness Reduction Act.