New Private Sector Housing module goes live

New Forest District Council is going live this week with a new Private Sector Housing System module from Locata.

The system incorporates a caseload dashboard, a private sector properties database as well as full Journal capabilities for surveyed properties linked to homeless cases and housing register applications.

The new module will also boast a fully functional people database, with workflow and reporting functionality.

As you would expect with a Locata system there are some impressive features, such as the Management Dashboard based on the HPA2 framework.

 

Other features include:

  • Programmable Tasks and Questions
  • Multiple Works per Property
  • Full Journal Access – Properties, People Owners and Contractors
  • Property Database & Details
  • Case Management System
  • Contractor Details and Multiple Schedules of Works
  • Owner Details
  • Rates for Works
  • Full Reporting

The following statutory elements are also incorporated into the system:

  • A Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) management system
  • A Housing Health & Safety Rating System (HHSRS) including enforcement
  • Houses of Multiple Occupation system (HMO) including inspections and licensing
  • Schedules of Rates (SOR) to enable the tracking of multiple payments, works and outcomes

If you would like to know more about Locata’s wide range of cloud-based housing options and homelessness products and services, please email us on info@locata.org.uk

Guest Blog – Contractors called up for new £1.5bn housing framework

LHC is currently in the pre-planning stage of their New Build Housing Construction (H2) framework that will be procured on behalf of SPA, CPC and LHC.

It will deliver a range of traditional housing as well as low, medium and high-rise construction, sheltered, student and keyworker accommodation, care homes, and mixed use sites, development agreements and land purchases. Associated civil engineering and infrastructure works required for new build housing and net zero buildings will also be covered under the framework.

Planned housing lots

  • New build housing – low rise up to 11m to top floor height
  • High rise developments with floor heights above 11m
  • Construction of care homes
  • Refurbishment, Conversions, Extensions and Adaptions
  • Groundworks and preparation for new build sites
  • Major infrastructure for new build housing sites

Gary Crawley, Director of CPC, said:

“The New Build Housing Construction (H2) framework for the North of England is to provide the right solution for a growing demand for collaborative procurement to meet the ongoing housing challenges and support levelling up standards across the UK, Both the procurement process and delivery of building projects will contribute positively to social value, shaping places and enhancing the quality of life for our local communities.”

CPC will be hosting a pre-tender engagement webinar to discuss the H2 framework in detail. CPC are giving you the chance to help shape the framework to how you want it.

Register here >

To register interest in the H2 framework and receive further updates, visit eTendering portal Proactis.

 

Decent Homes Standard – we want your views

The Social Housing White Paper announced a review of the Decent Homes Standard.  The Northern Housing Consortium is pleased to have been invited by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to be a core participant in the Review sounding board.

The first phase of the review is considering the case for criteria within the Decent Homes Standard, and what might be included in a new standard. The second phase will consider refining decency in more detail.

In order that we can be sure we’re representing our members’ views effectively within the Review, we’d be grateful if you members could complete a short survey. Not all the questions are mandatory.  Please complete the survey by Thursday 4th February.

Take the survey and sign up to keep in touch on the review.

Commenting, NHC Executive Director (Policy and Public Affairs) Brian Robson said

“We’re delighted to be asked by MHCLG to join the Review sounding board. The NHC has built an strong evidence base on housing quality in the North over recent years, and we’re working hard to do the same on net zero. This is a great opportunity to make sure the new standard works for the North – but to do that, we want to hear from our members. Please complete the survey and let us know your views.”

The NHC survey asks for member views on the current standard, and areas Government have highlighted for focus in the new standard. Members can also sign-up to keep in touch with the NHC’s work on the review.

Please complete the survey by Thursday 4th February.

Housing Minister Opens Dialogue with All-Party Parliamentary Group for Housing in the North

On Tuesday the Housing Minister, Chris Pincher MP, attended the latest meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Housing in the North to learn about the work of the Group, give an update on Government priorities, and underline his support for APPG’s as cross-party, Parliament-wide forums of important debate.

To summarise the recent and future work of the APPG, Chair Ian Mearns MP had arranged for Group Secretariat the Northern Housing Consortium (NHC) to begin the meeting with a scene setting presentation.

NHC Chief Executive Tracy Harrison began by introducing the APPG’s recent publication No Home Left Behind: An Inquiry into Property Standards in the North’s Private Rented Sector.  Tracy explained that the sizeable evidence submitted by NHC members had highlighted a series of challenges, and potential solutions, to ensure the PRS was a positive choice and experience for all tenants.

Alongside the Minister, attendees heard how the PRS regulatory framework had become a comprehensive but complicated mixture of statute and case law that hinders enforcement and allows poor conditions to flourish, that the ability to identify landlords and poorly conditioned properties was essential to professionalising the sector, that Local Authorities were being held back in their ability to effectively use enforcement tools by severe budget constraints, and a long-term commitment to regeneration was required to allow place-based partnerships to improve hard-to-address, poor-quality accommodation.

It was then explained that the proposed focus of the APPG in 2021 would be to identify and argue for a strong role for housing in the Government’s ambition to ‘level up’ the regions and the mandated goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Tracy outlined some of the ways housing policy could be adapted to work better for the North: improving capacity in councils, advancing a level playing field on accessing housing infrastructure funds, with it being noted that whilst the Government had committed to reviewing the so-called 80/20 formula, details were yet to emerge; and a refreshed vision for Homes England, incorporating ‘levelling up’ and Net Zero as stated strategic objectives.

Tracy finished by highlighting new research, supported by the NHC, from IPPR North outlining the economic and environmental stimulus brought about by investing the North’s older, colder homes. Sarah Longlands, IPPR North’s Director, was also at the meeting to give a full briefing to the APPG but Tracy used time with the Minister to highlight two aspects of the research. That a roadmap to decarbonise existing homes should begin with social housing, using the sectors historic capacity to deliver large-scale improvement works as a catalyst to further cross-tenure decarbonisation. And secondly, that investment in housing should come alongside a localised focus on skills development to fully realise the potential 77,000 jobs in home retrofit identified by the report.

The Housing Minister Chris Pincher MP used his time to highlight a number of Government announcements made in recent months. Firstly, concerning the Planning White Paper, the Minister noted the scale of feedback received particularly around the future of Section106. On the proposal for a new infrastructure levy, the Minister indicated that this may well be locally set to acknowledge different geographies and housing markets. However, the Planning White Paper was the beginning of the conversation, not the end, so it was certainly too early to make any firm commitment.

The Minister reiterated the Affordable Homes Programme (AHP) as a key area of focus, with the next iteration running to 2026. He stated that this next AHP will be geared more to affordable and socially rented homes, with 32,000 new social homes set to be built, more than double the figure built during the current AHP programme.

The PRS was acknowledged as another area of focus, with the Minister stating he is keen to approach renters reform from a stable economic terrain and is committed to abolishing Section 21 ‘no fault evictions’. The Minister noted that the Government wants to make the private renting system far less complicated for all who navigate it, particularly renters themselves.

Discussing ‘levelling up’, he reiterated the Government’s commitment, though acknowledged that the last 10 months had distracted from this. The recent announcement of the £4bn Levelling Up Fund was more indicative of their desire.

The Minister finished by underlining that regeneration was an area of focus he was seeking to build into planning reforms and he would welcome ideas and feedback on this subject. Before the pandemic we had began to see the ‘Amazon effect’ transform retail. There was a need now to ‘build back’ in our town and city centres and planning reform should facilitate effective masterplans. It may be that ‘regeneration zones’ are identified alongside the Planning White Paper’s proposals of growth, renewal, and protected zones – this was all part of the conversation the Minister was keen to have.

The Minister stayed on for a QnA session with Parliamentarians. Discussion centred on Permitted Development Rights and space standards, the future of Neighbourhood Planning and citizen engagement within the planning process, accessible housing, and embedding housing and improving existing homes into ‘levelling up’ and Net Zero. The Minister thanked the APPG and noted he would be happy to return to the Group in the future.

Full meeting notes from the session will be available to members soon on the NHC’s dedicated APPG webpage. The Northern Housing Consortium continues to represent members interests in our interactions with the highest levels of government.

Leading housing chief to retire after seventeen successful years

Incommunities Group Chief Executive, Geraldine Howley is getting ready to step down at the end of the month after nearly two decades leading the West Yorkshire housing association.

It follows Geraldine’s decision to retire and her leaving comes as the Group gets ready to mark 18 successful years in business.

Her long career started as a temporary housing receptionist with Bradford Council, based at Jacob’s Well in the late 1970s, before Geraldine become a housing officer covering the Manchester Road blocks.

From looking after a patch of 1,600 properties, Geraldine progressed with the Council gaining expertise in different areas before becoming the local authority’s Director of Housing.

Fast forward to 2003 and Geraldine led the new BCHT Group set up with the stock transfer – voted for by Council tenants – of over 26,000 homes.

Gradually, an unwieldy structure involving six area subsidiaries was streamlined by Geraldine and her team and the group was rebranded to create Incommunities in 2008.

She became Chair of the Northern Housing Consortium in 2005 leading until 2008, overseeing some key changes in the membership organisation that represents and supports social housing providers in the North.

Her leadership has been marked by building a ‘can do’ culture which has focused the minds of everyone on improving people’s lives and their neighbourhoods.

Since the successful achievement of Decent Homes Standard in 2010, she has overseen the delivery of multi million pound improvements to local homes which has transformed the neighbourhoods in which Incommunities operates.

In 2013 she led the review of the company’s office accommodation around the district and the acquisition of its headquarters at The Quays, Shipley.

Geraldine has overseen the growth of Incommunities through mergers, stock acquisitions and successful restructures. In 2015, Huddersfield-based BME housing association, Sadeh Lok joined the Group.

In 2019, she played a vitally important role in the refinancing of Incommunities with a successful £250 million bond issue and securing a Standard and Poors A+ credit rating.

Geraldine has also overseen the delivery of over 1100 new affordable homes across Bradford, the Aire Valley, Wharfedale and beyond. The group now has homes in West, South and North Yorkshire.

In 2020 she led Incommunities’ response to the Covid lockdown and has also played a key partnership role in the district’s handling of the pandemic.

Incommunities Chair, Jan Ormondroyd praised Geraldine’s leadership: “Geraldine has successfully built Incommunities into a strong, forward looking organisation and leaves us with a strong platform to achieve our strategic growth ambitions to 2040.

“Everyone from the board, management and staff would like to wish her well as she moves onto exciting new challenges in her life.”

Tracy Harrison, Chief Executive of the Northern Housing Consortium added: “Geraldine has had a career in housing than many would aspire to.

“She has led with integrity, intent and insight and has had a positive impact on many people’s lives through her work.  She’s always been a staunch supporter of the Northern Housing Consortium, and whilst we’ll miss her being in her ‘day job’, I’m delighted that we’ll continue to work with her through her involvement in the GEMS programme that NHC support.

“We wish her a happy and healthy retirement.”

Geraldine Howley said “Looking back, it’s sometimes been a steep learning curve from my first steps as a housing officer to managing one of the biggest stock transfer at the time.

“As our 18th birthday approaches I feel very proud to have played my part in the growth of Incommunities and been supported by such a great executive team, board and skilled and dedicated colleagues. It’s been an amazing journey.

“I’ve loved my time at Incommunities and delivering our vision of improving people’s lives has always been my guiding principle as its CEO.

“I am leaving the organisation in great shape and wish my successor Rachael Dennis and everyone the very best for the future.

“Now I am really excited about the next stage in my career.”

Geraldine is widely respected in the housing sector and a personal highlight was being elected President of the Chartered Institute of Housing in 2015-16, having served Vice-President in the previous year.

She is looking forward to continuing as Chair of the Chartered Institute of Housing Governing Board.

In 2016, Geraldine was made an honorary doctorate by the University of Bradford for her outstanding contribution to housing and a year later was awarded an OBE for her services to housing, young people and the local community.

She is passionate about encouraging more young people to build rewarding careers in housing and will continue her close involvement with the GEM Programme which she co-founded in 2009. Geraldine has chaired the programme for a number of years and is being appointed a Director. She is excited to see the programme develop further and bring her leadership skills and extensive knowledge.

Geraldine has also signed up to take a Level 7 Institute of Leadership & Management qualification and develop her coaching and mentoring skills.

There is little chance of Geraldine taking a ‘step back’ as she looks forward to joining national social housing borrowing vehicle, MORhomes in April as a non-executive director.

 

New chair for Northern Housing Consortium

Social Housing membership organisation the Northern Housing Consortium have welcomed Paul Fiddaman as the new Chair of their member-led board.

Paul is currently the Chief Executive Officer with Karbon Homes, having previously held Chief Executive roles with Isos Housing and Cestria Community Housing, and brings over two decades experience of the housing sector.

He replaces Tom Miskell, who stepped down as Chair at Northern Housing Consortium’s last AGM in December. Paul has been a member of the NHC board since 2017. The NHC is a membership body representing the views of over 96% of housing providers across the North of England. The NHC uses the insightful views and experiences of members to influence policy, striving to remain a strong Northern voice on behalf of their membership.

Speaking about his appointment, Paul Fiddaman said:

“I’m delighted to be taking over as Chair at the NHC at a very exciting time for both the organisation and sector.”

“This last year has shown the commitment, ambition and professionalism of the NHC team, especially when it comes to supporting members and being the voice of the North’s social housing sector. I am really excited about how we can continue to connect members and policy makers together to make the North an even better place to live for everyone.”

Tracy Harrison, NHC Chief Executive adds:

“Paul has become Chair at a time when we are really driving positive change forward in our organisation and we welcome him to his new role.

“The events of 2020 forced a lot of change upon our work and we have adapted well to meet the needs of our stakeholders. In 2021 we plan to build upon this, delivering even greater value for our members and taking an even bigger role in making housing policy work for the North.”

“On behalf of our other board members, our staff and all of our members I would like to thank Tom Miskell for his support as Chair. His influence on the organisation has put us in a great position for the years ahead.”

The announcement of Paul taking over as chair coincides with the launch of a new look for the NHC, created to articulate the strong, modern and professional nature of the organisation.

The visual look has been developed for ‘digital first’ communication, partially in response to the changes to the world of work over the last 12 months with more reports and documents being view on screen, and events online, than ever before.

 

About the Northern Housing Consortium (NHC)

The NHC is a membership body representing the views of over 96% of housing providers across the North of England. Our events and procurement services extend beyond the North, to approximately 150 affiliate members. We use the insightful views and experiences of our members to influence policy and we strive to remain a strong Northern voice on behalf of our membership.

Reaction to Future Homes announcement

Yesterday (19th January) the government published their plans to introduce rigorous new energy efficiency standards to lower energy consumption and bills, helping to protect the environment.

The full announcement can be read HERE (https://www.gov.uk/government/news/rigorous-new-targets-for-green-building-revolution

Speaking about the government’s announcement on Future Homes and Future Buildings standards Tracy Harrison, Chief Executive of the Northern Housing Consortium, said:

“Net zero is a key priority for our members – the vast majority of the North’s councils have declared climate emergencies, so we welcome this further progress towards making new homes net zero.”

“However, we still need a Standard for existing homes – 80% of the homes we will have in 2050 have already been built.  In November last year we published a plan to retrofit the North’s homes which could deliver 77,000 new jobs across the North and deliver and additional £3.85bn GVA to the North annually, whilst helping deliver on the governments Net Zero targets. We believe that a specific roadmap for retrofitting existing homes is not only necessary for decarbonisation but for financial recovery from the Covid crisis too.”

Commenting on the news that local authorities will still be able to set energy efficiency standards that go further than national minimums, Tracy Harrison added:

“We welcome the fact that councils will still be able to set higher standards where these are felt to be appropriate. However, for this plan to be successful, and to enable real action on net zero at a local level, already under-resourced Local Authorities will need support to rebuild their housing and planning capacity.”

For further comment please contact james.burman@northern-consortium.org.uk