Helping you create better homes and places – our corporate plan is coming soon!

We’re excited to be launching our ambitious new corporate plan in the coming weeks – it sets out what we’ll do over the next three years to help you create better homes and places. This new plan focusses on your unrivalled member experience, it outlines our influencing priorities for the next few years, and it highlights our plans to provide the best services to support you now and into the future.

Created by our whole staff team alongside our member-led Board, the corporate plan has been shaped by insight built through our many member engagement opportunities, by looking ahead to future challenges and from our member perceptions research last year, which showed significant progress since our last survey in 2018.

In our 2018 survey, you asked us to develop a stronger, clearer voice on behalf of housing in the North and we hope that you have seen evidence of this – whether it’s members of the team giving evidence to Parliamentary select committees, our work to influence the Spending Review, or the evidence base we’ve built around net zero and levelling-up. We have worked hard to build the evidence base, craft compelling messages and ensure those messages reach and connect with decision-makers and policy shapers. Our commercial solutions continue to deliver value for members and contribute to the strong financial footing that enables us to perform our influencing and engagement functions for our membership.

From the 2021 survey we know that 95% of members are satisfied or very satisfied with the NHC’s work, and more than 90% of you agree that NHC membership is good value for money. Importantly the survey also told us what your challenges and priorities were in the future, and it was this insight which helped enable us to shape our priorities for the next three years.

Within the next few days we’ll be sending out your annual Member Benefits Statement detailing the ways your organisation has engaged with us over the last 12 months and how you’ve been using our procurement solutions. Overall, we held 149 online conferences, seminars, roundtables and network meetings throughout the year. 90% of our full members attended at least one conference or seminar, and 87% attended at least one roundtable or network – this is a significant increase on previous years where our engagement programme was face-to-face.

The Member Benefits Statement will allow you to look back over your engagement with us, and our new Corporate Plan will look forward and highlight how we will help you to create better homes and places.

Watch out for the new Corporate Plan hitting your inbox very soon!



The NHC joins the Child Poverty Action Group and 50 other organisations to call for the Government to increase benefits to match inflation

In the run-up to Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Spring Statement, the NHC joined the Child Poverty Action Group’s (CPAG) campaign, along with more than 50 other organisations, to call for the Government to increase benefits by at least 8% to match inflation forecasts, instead of the planned 3.1% increase from April 2022.

The joint statement led by CPAG, and supported by others in the sector including the Chartered Institute for Housing, received coverage in the BBCGuardian and the Mirror.

Disappointingly, the Chancellor’s announcements did not include plans to provide additional support through the welfare system. The Resolution Foundation has since estimated that a further 1.3m people, including 500,000 children, will fall into absolute poverty next year.

See the full CPAG statement and signatories below:

“Prices are rising at the fastest rate in 30 years, and energy bills alone are going to rise by 54% in April. We are all feeling the pinch but the soaring costs of essentials will hurt low-income families, whose budgets are already at breaking point, most.

There has long been a profound mismatch between what those with a low income have, and what they need to get by. Policies such as the benefit cap, the benefit freeze and deductions have left many struggling. And although benefits will increase by 3.1% in April, inflation is projected to be 7.25% by then. This means a real-terms income cut just six months after the £20 per week cut to universal credit.

Child Poverty Action Group’s analysis shows families’ universal credit will fall in value by £570 per year, on average. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has calculated that 400,000 people could be pulled into poverty by this real-terms cut to benefits.

The government must respond to the scale of the challenge. Prices are rising across the board. Families with children in poverty will face £35 per month in extra energy costs through spring and summer, even after the government’s council tax rebate scheme is factored in. These families also face £26 per month in additional food costs. The pressure isn’t going to ease: energy costs will rise again in October.

A second cut to benefits in six months is unthinkable. The government should increase benefits by at least 7% in April to match inflation, and ensure support for housing costs increases in line with rents. All those struggling, including families affected by the benefit cap, must feel the impact.

Much more is needed for levels of support to reflect what people need to get by, but we urge the government to use the spring statement on 23 March to stop this large gap widening even further. The people we support and represent are struggling, and budgets can’t stretch anymore.”


Alison Garnham, Chief Executive, Child Poverty Action Group

Emma Revie, Chief Executive, The Trussell Trust

Graeme Cooke, Director of Evidence and Policy, Joseph Rowntree Foundation

Morgan Wild, Head of Policy, Citizens Advice

Dan Paskins, Director of UK Impact, Save the Children UK

Imran Hussain, Director of Policy and Campaigns, Action for Children

Thomas Lawson, Chief Executive, Turn2us

Sophie Corlett, Director of External Relations, Mind

Dr Dhananjayan Sriskandarajah, Chief Executive, Oxfam GB

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director, Age UK

Eve Byrne, Director of Advocacy, Macmillan Cancer Support

Kamran Mallick, CEO, Disability Rights UK

Katherine Hill, Strategic Project Manager, 4in10 London’s Child Poverty Network

Mubin Haq, Chief Executive Officer, abrdn Financial Fairness Trust 

Bob Stronge, Chief Executive, Advice NI 

Dr Ruth Allen, Chief Executive, British Association of Social Workers

Joseph Howes, Chief Executive Officer, Buttle UK

Helen Walker, Chief Executive, Carers UK 

Balbir Chatrik, Director of Policy and Communications, Centrepoint

Gavin Smart, Chief Executive, Chartered Institute of Housing 

Leigh Elliott, CEO, Children North East

Paula Stringer, CEO, Christians Against Poverty (CAP)

Niall Cooper, Director, Church Action on Poverty

Lynsey Sweeney, Managing Director, Communities that Work

Anna Feuchtwang, Chair, End Child Poverty Coalition

Claire Donovan, Head of Policy, Research and Campaigns, End Furniture Poverty

Victoria Benson, CEO, Gingerbread 

Neil Parkinson, co-head of casework, Glass Door Homeless Charity

Graham Whitham, Chief Executive, Greater Manchester Poverty Action

Yasmine Ahmed, UK Director, Human Rights Watch

Sabine Goodwin, Coordinator, Independent Food Aid Network 

Jess McQuail, Director, Just Fair 

Gemma Hope, Director of Policy, Leonard Cheshire

Paul Streets, Chief Executive, Lloyds Bank Foundation for England & Wales

Jackie O’Sullivan, Director of Communication, Advocacy and Activism, Mencap

Mark Rowland, Chief Executive, Mental Health Foundation

Chris James, Director of External Affairs, Motor Neurone Disease Association

Nick Moberly, CEO, MS Society

Anna Feuchtwang, Chief Executive, National Children’s Bureau

Charlotte Augst, Chief Executive, National Voices

Jane Streather, Chair, North East Child Poverty Commission

Tracy Harrison, Chief Executive, Northern Housing Consortium

Karen Sweeney, Director of the Women’s Support Network, on behalf of the Women’s Regional Consortium, Northern Ireland 

Satwat Rehman, CEO, One Parent Families Scotland

Mark Winstanley, Chief Executive, Rethink Mental Illness

James Taylor, Executive Director of Strategy, Impact and Social Change, Scope

Irene Audain MBE, Chief Executive Scottish, Out of School Care Network

Steve Douglas CBE, CEO, St Mungo’s 

Richard Lane, Director of External Affairs, StepChange Debt Charity

Robert Palmer, Executive Director, Tax Justice 

Claire Burns, Director, The Centre for Excellence for Children’s Care and Protection (CELCIS)

The Disability Benefits Consortium 

Dr. Nick Owen MBE, CEO, The Mighty Creatives

Peter Kelly, Director, The Poverty Alliance

Elaine Downie, Co-ordinator, The Poverty Truth Community

Tim Morfin, Founder and Chief Executive, Transforming Lives for Good (TLG)

UCL Institute of Health Equity 

Dr Mary-Ann Stephenson, Director, Women’s Budget Group 

Natasha Finlayson OBE, Chief Executive, Working Chance

Claire Reindorp, CEO, Young Women’s Trust 

DLUHC confirm the white paper on renters’ reform will be published “very soon”

Ian Byrne, MP for Liverpool West Derby, led a Westminster Hall debate on 15th March about poor quality standards in the private rented sector (PRS). The debate heard from a range of MPs citing evidence of poor housing conditions experienced by their constituents who live in private rented sector homes.

Analysis in the Northern Housing Monitor shows 1 in 7 homes in the private rented sector have a Category 1 hazard and more than two thirds of homes in the sector are below EPC C. During lockdown, the NHC supported research by the University of Huddersfield which highlighted the particular struggle for thermal comfort in the private rented sector and poor conditions impacting negatively on people’s physical and mental health.

During the debate, Matthew Pennycook MP, Shadow Minister for Housing and Planning, said there is an “acute problem” of the most vulnerable being concentrated at the lower end of the private rented market, which is often concentrated geographically. The Shadow Minister stated that substandard PRS homes are the source of “daily anxiety, torment and misery” for many and noted that it hinders children, in particular, from flourishing.

Eddie Hughes MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Rough Sleeping and Housing at DLUHC, responded to the debate to reaffirm the Government’s commitment to driving up standards of rented properties as outlined in the Levelling Up White Paper. One of the document’s core missions includes an ambition “for the number of non-decent rented homes to have fallen by 50%, with the biggest improvements in the lowest performing areas.” The NHC’s Executive Director of Policy and Public Affairs, Brian Robson, has written about this shift in government thinking from boosting supply to improving quality which you can read here.

PRS reform is long-overdue. The Renters’ Reform Bill (proposals of which were first revealed under Theresa May) was announced in the Queen’s Speech in December 2019 but it was not brought forward in the parliamentary session due to the impact of the pandemic. But renters’ reform is firmly back on the agenda, with the Levelling Up White Paper outlining:

“We will publish a landmark White Paper in the spring to consult on introducing a legally binding Decent Homes Standard in the Private Rented Sector for the first time ever, explore a National Landlord Register and bring forward other measures to reset the relationship between landlords and tenants, including through ending section 21 “no fault evictions””.

These proposals are welcome. The NHC acts as Secretariat to the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Housing in the North. Last year, the APPG’s inquiry into housing standards in the North’s PRS published its final report. The APPG’s recommendations included:

  • a full review by the Law Commission of private rented legislation
  • a national landlord identification database of landlords’ details, their properties, and their energy performance
  • a DWP trial of linking payment of housing benefit to minimum quality standards
  • repealing Section 21 without delay
  • support to maintain well-resourced enforcement teams within local authorities
  • greater local freedom for Selective Licensing schemes
  • a Housing Quality Investment Fund to support local long-term collaboration across tenures to improve housing quality.

The NHC is a core participant in DLUHC’s review of the Decent Homes Standard. Following the Levelling-Up White Paper’s announcement that the Standard will be applied in the PRS for the first time, we expect the pace of the review to significantly accelerate in coming months, with a formal consultation on a new standard coming forward as soon as this Summer.

We are also awaiting the response from BEIS on the consultation to raise the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard (MEES) to EPC C for new PRS lettings from 2025 and to EPC C for all PRS properties from 2028. While we welcome the commitment to improve the energy performance of homes in the PRS, this makes the APPG’s recommendation on ensuring enforcement teams in local authorities are properly resourced even more pertinent.

Enforcement is a particular challenge for local authorities in the North where a reduction in capacity has led to a 58% drop in housing services spend and a 73% drop in planning and building control spend between 2010/11-2020/21.

During the Westminster Hall debate, Eddie Hughes MP confirmed that the renters’ reform white paper (as opposed to a Bill previously promised) setting out how the Government plan to drive up standards in the PRS will be brought forward “very soon”. The NHC will be closely following developments on the proposed package of reforms for our members.

Please do not hesitate to follow up on any of this with the NHC by contacting Anna Seddon (Policy and Public Affairs Manager) at

Government energy efficiency scheme has led to annual energy bill savings of £1.2m so far

The £2bn Green Homes Grant (GHG) scheme was launched by the Government in 2020 to increase the energy efficiency of 600,000 eligible homes by providing discounts to incentivise householders to upgrade their homes. The scheme was announced as part of a wider strategy to meet net zero by 2050, “build back greener” after the pandemic, and as part of the plan to reach the Government’s target for as many homes as possible to be Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) Band C by 2030.

As we know, the delivery of the Green Homes Grant scheme did not meet expectations and was scrapped by the Government just six months after its launch, with only a fraction of the available vouchers issued in the period. The objectives of the scheme still remain incredibly important for the North: to reduce carbon emissions from homes, cut household bills, make homes warmer and more comfortable, and bring new jobs and skills to the region. Action to reduce fuel poverty is particularly important to NHC members at the moment due to the ongoing cost-of-living crisis and subsequent pressure to reduce gas demand.

£500m of the initial GHG funding was for the Local Authority Delivery (LAD) scheme for local authorities to target households with an income under £30,000. Though not without its own challenges, this has arguably been the most successful element of the GHG scheme.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) release monthly statistics on the progress of energy efficiency measures installed through the LAD scheme which allows us to track the number and nature of energy efficiency improvements being carried out.

Here’s what we know from the data so far:

Since October 2020, a total of 10,920 homes have been upgraded through the LAD scheme – 9,761 through Phase 1 and 1,159 through Phase 2.

Under Phase 1 of the LAD scheme (allocated to successful local authority bidders), around 12,000 measures have been installed across the country. 60% of these have been insulation measures (the most common type being external solid wall insulation), 19% electricity-related measures (mostly solar PV), 9% window and door measures (such as double or triple glazing), 8% low carbon heating measures (the majority being air source heat pumps), and 4% heat control measures.

For Phase 2 (allocated directly to Local Net Zero Hubs), the proportion of measures so far have been as follows: 55% electricity-related measures (solar PV), 33% insulation measures (mainly internal solid wall insulation and loft insulation), 7% low carbon heat (mostly air source heat pumps), 3% windows and doors, and 1% heating controls.

The data is broken down regionally, showing that around 30% of households with at least one measure installed through Phase 1 are located in the North. For Phase 2, Northern households make up a bigger share of the total of households with at least one measure installed so far, at around 50%. Given the North accounts for 29% of England’s households, and 32% of England’s fuel poor households, these are encouraging results.

The last phase of the LAD scheme was distributed through BEIS’ Sustainable Warmth Competition in December last year (no data available on this yet), which comprised Phase 3 of LAD and Phase 1 of the Home Upgrade Grants which target off-gas homes. Our analysis showed the North only received around 20% of funding through LAD Phase 3.

The most illuminating element of the statistical release is the detail around the savings made by householders because of these improvements. The total estimated annual bill savings for households upgraded through Phase 1 of LAD – a total of 12,143 measures across England – is £1.2m. The majority of these savings come from solid wall insulation measures (£660,000) with the next highest savings from heat pumps (£230,000).

Recent analysis by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) has shown that energy efficiency measures were installed in 6m homes across the UK between 2009 and 2019 to bring them up to EPC C. Action taken throughout the decade is subsequently estimated to be saving bill payers £1.15bn this year. The often stop-start nature of government green schemes means this figure could have been a lot higher, but it still demonstrates the impact energy performance improvements have. ECIU analysis shows upgrading homes from EPC D to EPC C will result in a 20% reduction in gas demand per home. This is particularly important at the moment due to our exposure to the volatility of international gas markets impacting energy bills and therefore levels of fuel poverty.

And that’s just on energy efficiency, transitioning to efficient forms of clean heat (such as heat pumps) will reduce demand even further. As the LAD data shows, the highest proportion of energy bill savings have resulted from solid wall insulation and heat pump installation.

There is huge potential to go further on this. The LAD scheme showed that local authorities are able to act quickly using local expertise to bring together partners and supply chains to deliver energy efficiency upgrades to homes and reduce household bills. However, competitive funding arrangements and short deadlines are not the most effective way to upgrade the region’s homes at pace and scale; the NHC will continue to make the case to Government that long-term certainty is needed to build the supply chain and skills capacity to deliver in the North.

Greening our homes is the ‘shovel-ready’ way to reduce the impact of soaring energy bills.

In response to the cost-of-living-crisis and the presence of Russian gas in global markets, the Prime Minister is expected to publish an energy strategy with a focus on moving away from gas to renewable sources. NHC members can play a major role in reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, reducing household bills, and creating healthier homes by upgrading the energy performance of existing homes and transitioning to low carbon heat technologies.

You can see the full list of successful bids for the LAD scheme here.

Please do not hesitate to follow up on any of this with the NHC by contacting Anna Seddon (Policy and Public Affairs Manager) at

New Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm Requirements for Social Housing

In November 2020, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) confirmed plans to introduce new rules to ensure social rented homes are fitted with smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. The proposed changes, subject to parliamentary approval, will mean all social landlords must:

  • Install at least one smoke alarm on every storey of their homes; and
  • Install carbon monoxide alarms in every room which contains a fixed combustion appliance (excluding gas cookers)

It is expected that the cost of these new requirements to install and maintain alarms will fall to social landlords.

This announcement followed commitments for wide-ranging regulatory changes outlined in the Social Housing White Paper, including the launch of a consultation to extend requirements for smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in social housing. DLUHC’s consultation response can be found here, for more information. The changes will bring these new requirements for social landlords in line with requirements in the private rented sector, where they have been mandated since 2015.

The proposed changes do not require legislative changes – they can be introduced through regulations, which can receive parliamentary approval much faster than legislation.

Eddie Hughes MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Rough Sleeping and Housing at DLUHC, has recently notified us his intention is to lay these regulations in coming months, and that the resulting changes could come into force as soon as Autumn 2022. He strongly encourages social landlords begin the installation of alarms without delay. We know many of our members already conform with these requirements, or were acting on this following the Government’s announcements in November, but the message from Government is clear that they will be bringing forward these changes as soon as practicable.

DLUHC have provided a specific email address in case you have any questions directly for the DLUHC team working on this:

All Party Parliamentary Group for Housing in the North Returns for 2022

The APPG for Housing in the North, the forum for Parliamentarians to discuss and advance housing and related policy issues, met this month to launch a new work programme for 2022/3.

2021 had proved to be a productive year for the group with a string of Ministerial engagements. The APPG was joined in both January and May by the Minister for Housing where priorities including PRS standards, affordable housing, Local Authority capacity, and Net Zero were discussed. The Minister for Business, Energy and Corporate Responsibility also provided a keynote address at the APPG’s first joint-event held in collaboration with the APPG for Housing and Social Mobility exploring the barriers to scaling up the retrofit supply chain and embedding good green jobs at the local level.

Building on this work, it was announced that the forthcoming year’s meetings would look at ensuring housing investment, and housing providers, can contribute fully to the Government’s Levelling Up agenda.  As attendees were told at the outset; whether it’s restoring local pride and community agency, improving housing quality, ensuring communities can access excellent public services, or boosting living standards, a high quality and affordable housing offer will be central to success.

It was noted that the APPG for Housing in the North could take much from the recent publication from the long-trailed Levelling Up White Paper. The White Paper has reflected back much of the APPG’s work and priorities in recent years; an acknowledgement that the importance of housing goes beyond availability, and having a decent home is fundamental to individual and collective wellbeing, that raising and enforcing standards in the Private Rented Sector is a particular challenge, and that the resources of Homes England could be reorientated towards supporting area regeneration. The task for the APPG and stakeholders in the North, was to ensure the agenda has the longevity needed to deliver.

Against a back drop energy insecurity and price volatility, a range of stakeholders were brought together to discuss the cost of living crisis and work being undertaken by Northern Housing Consortium members to support communities in the short term, and improve the energy efficiency of homes across the North to protect people in the long term. Contributions were made by National Energy Action, North Star Housing Group, Centre for Sustainable Energy, Liverpool City Council, Burnley Borough Council, and Cosy Homes in Lancashire.

A post-event-meeting pack, detailing key points and discussion, can be accessed here:

Housing and Sector Stakeholders Set to Advance Good Green Jobs

Good Green Jobs – Tenants, Housing, and Skills, the latest collaboration between the NHC and Communities that Work, takes place next week to advance the conversation on how housing providers and other key sectors can work together to scale up the green economy in local areas.

To achieve Net Zero by 2050, many parts of the economy will need to transition away from carbon intensive practices. At the same time, with the Levelling Up White Paper the Government has set its sight on boosting living standards and supporting job creation in new, potentially green, industries across the country. Many of these new roles will focus on decarbonisation itself and building in climate resilience across the natural and built environment.

In October 2021, the NHC and Communities that Work convened the event Green Jobs, Housing, and Skills to recognise the work required to realise these jobs and skills opportunities. The session took place as part of the work of the All Party Parliamentary Group’s for Housing in the North, and Housing and Social Mobility, and features a keynote address and comprehensive question and answer session with Lord Callanan, Minister for Business, Energy and Corporate Responsibility. Building confidence amongst employers of all sizes to invest in green jobs; developing training and reskilling pathways so that both the current and future workforce can benefit; and embedding secure employment at a local level so that communities are sustainable both environmentally and in economic terms were identified as priorities.

The social housing sector has a central role to play in acting on these priorities. Housing providers are very much one part of an ecosystem of Anchor Institutions in their areas; major employers and big spenders wedded to their local areas. As valued investors in people as well as neighbourhoods, housing providers can also collaborate with likeminded institutions to support tenants to access training, employment, and progress in work.

Building on October’s event, Good Green Jobs will bring together stakeholders to explore how together we can bring green jobs to our areas and tenant bases. The packed agenda features a keynote address from Friends of the Earth, and two stakeholder panels bringing together housing, education, industry, and regional government.

Good Green Jobs – Tenants, Housing, and Skills takes place Thursday 7th April 2022, 13.00 – 14.30, online via Zoom. To view the confirmed agenda and register your attendance, please visit:

Green Jobs, Housing, and Skills took place 26th October 2021. A recording of the event and a post-event meeting pack can be accessed here:

Social Housing Tenants’ Climate Jury Heads to London for the Inside Housing Retrofit Challenge Summit

Visitors to March’s Inside Housing Retrofit Challenge Summit didn’t have to wait very long to see the impact of the Social Housing Tenant’s Climate Jury. Indeed, Inside Housing Editor Martin Hilditch used his welcome programme notes to describe the Jury as “absolutely recommended reading” and pledged the publications support to “pick up on some of the issues flagged as of critical importance” to the Jury.

Jury member Steve Mackenzie represented the Jury on the day, speaking as part of a panel on “What does good resident engagement look like?”. Steve was keen to hit home the importance involving tenants in the retrofit process, speaking to Inside Housing as part of the conference, he said:

“No-one likes change very much, especially the major changes needed to combat climate change and more so having them imposed on us. By engaging with customers, landlords have the opportunity to explain, discuss and outline what climate change means to the tenants and what opportunities there are to combat it and how tenants can contribute with ideas and practical solutions.”

Discussing the Jury’s recommendations, Steve highlighted the need for information to be presented in a transparent, accessible way:

“the level of information available varied considerably from zero to very little. It is almost as if the housing associations are unsure of what they should say and how to say it… What disruption will tenants endure during retrofit? Will it mean temporary relocation? How much will retrofit cost? Who pays? What financial impact will it have on tenants? So many questions surrounding this point that need explanation. Maybe they cannot be answered now but will need to be at some time in the future.”

Overall, Steve hoped the Social Housing Tenants’ Climate Jury will begin bringing tenants and landlords together to develop “a mutually beneficial understanding of the works involved, both practically and financially”.

Echoing the Jury’s words of “let’s take action, and act together”, Steve ended the interview by stating “We have one chance, and one only, to get this right and it is in all our interests to do so, for now and for the future.”

Steve’s interview, and other interviews with speakers from the Retrofit Challenge Summit, can be reads in full here:

Supporter Blog – Big officer audience for homelessness update

Homelessness and housing officers from across the country tuned in to Locata’s National Users Group (NUG) meeting last month.

More than 350 officers registered for the webinar to hear Andy Gale, one of the country’s top housing experts, set out the challenges facing homelessness teams in 2022. He highlighted and discussed four key issues:

  1. The need for a new model for recruiting and training staff.
  2. The need to adopt a new approach to casework in order to manage rising applications and the risk of unsustainable caseloads and case backlogs, caused by rising rents, rising fuel costs and “pent up” demand post Covid.
  3. The need to “reboot” prevention models to respond to the reality of rising applications and limited resources
  4. Deciding how to deliver Housing Options Services post Covid

He also set out a series of caselaw updates that homelessness officers need to be aware of and highlighted several potential areas for legal challenge.

He announced at the meeting that he had developed a free Affordability Assessment Toolkit based on the Samuels and Paley court judgments.

Locata helped convert this into Microsoft Excel software and has distributed it widely. So far, it has been downloaded more than 400 times by homelessness officers.

The toolkit has been designed so that it can be used for:

  • Assessing whether an applicant is homeless where the claim is the applicant cannot afford their rent
  • Assessing whether any offer of Temporary Accommodation or an offer of private rented accommodation made to end a prevention, relief or main duty is suitable based on being affordable
  • Assessing whether an applicant is intentionally homeless or not, where the question to be assessed is could afford to pay their rent and other reasonable expenditure

The Affordability Assessment Toolkit can still be downloaded for free from the Locata website. Follow this link.

A full recording of the webinar is also available at this link.

Additional resources from the webinar, such as downloadable pdfs of the presentations and written responses to the Questions & Answers sessions, can be found at this link.

Andy Gale speaking at Locata’s webinar where he set out the key challenges faced by Housing Options Services in 2022 and offered solutions on how to overcome them.



Cost-of-living crisis and energy security: What does today’s Spring Statement mean for NHC members?

Chancellor Rishi Sunak delivered the Treasury’s Spring Statement to the House of Commons today to provide an update on the overall health of the economy and scale of the impact of the rising cost-of-living. Leading up to today, Sunak has faced huge pressure to alleviate escalating costs and provide additional support to low-income households.

With OBR forecasting inflation to average 7.4% this year and household energy bills soaring, people are struggling to meet rising costs. Analysis by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has shown that persistent rising energy costs will lead to £1 in every £5 from low-income households’ budgets being spent on energy bills this year. This is particularly concerning in the North where we start with higher levels of fuel poverty than elsewhere in the country.

In the run-up to the statement, the NHC joined the Child Poverty Action Group’s (CPAG) campaign, along with more than 50 other organisations, to call for the Government to increase benefits by at least 8% to match inflation forecasts, instead of the planned 3.1% increase. The joint statement led by CPAG, and supported by others in the sector including the Chartered Institute for Housing, received coverage in the BBC, Guardian and the Mirror.


In response to the unfolding cost-of-living crisis, the Chancellor made a series of announcements today in the ‘mini-Budget’, including the following:

  • VAT will be cut to 0% on energy saving materials (solar panels, heat pumps, insulation) for five years from April 2022 to support energy efficiency improvements to homes.
  • National Insurance threshold at which people start paying contributions will be increased by £3,000 from July 2022, equalising it with the Income Tax personal allowance. The Chancellor aims to reduce the basic rate of Income Tax from 20% to 19% by the end of the Parliament in 2024.
  • Offering some support to low-income households by adding £500m to the Household Support Fund administered by local authorities.


Commenting, NHC Chief Executive Tracy Harrison said:

“Energy bills are at the centre of the cost-of-living crisis and they are expected to increase further next month, and again in October, so the urgency to act has never been greater. We welcome the Chancellor’s expansion of VAT relief on energy efficiency products, which will provide a modest boost to efforts to green Northern homes.

While the Chancellor has also acted through the tax system, it was disappointing not to see more immediate help for households targeted through the welfare system – those on the lowest incomes are facing a second real-terms cut in their incomes this April. Looking ahead, we need a long-term, large-scale programme of home upgrades in the North: not only to increase energy security and reduce household bills, but also to cut carbon emissions from our homes, improve the quality and health of our homes, and bring new green skills and jobs to the region.”

 The Chancellor also delivered the Spring Statement today in the context of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, with Rishi Sunak outlining that the unfolding situation will add to economic pressure in the UK.

Today’s Statement confirmed that the Government will only be raising benefits by 3.1% in April as planned. The £500m extra for local authorities through the Household Support Fund to target the most vulnerable with the cost of essentials falls far short of the uplift required for low-income households to meet rising energy and food costs.

The Spring Statement documents recognise the important role of increasing the energy efficiency of our homes, stating: Improving energy efficiency is not only good for the climate but can also save households hundreds of pounds a year, helping to eliminate fuel poverty while reducing our reliance on imported gas.”

This acknowledgement by the Treasury of the role of housing retrofit in the UK’s efforts to reduce gas demand (accelerated by Putin’s invasion of Ukraine) is hugely welcome. Announcements made today to cut VAT to 0% on energy saving materials to support households install green measures such as heat pumps and insulation has the potential to reduce gas demand and bills. However, this is a relatively modest step (expected to cost Treasury around £50m per annum) and only one part of the solution to drive down bills. For those already experiencing fuel poverty and struggling with spiralling costs, this intervention on VAT does not support them so other subsidies and grants must be part of the package to improve energy efficiency.

We know the North has a higher proportion of the UK’s older and leakier homes; the Northern Housing Monitor showed that 270,000 homes per year need to be retrofitted in the region until 2035 to meet the Government’s EPC C target. Insulating our homes and transitioning them to clean heat, such as heat pumps and heat networks, will reduce households’ exposure to volatile international gas markets and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels to heat our homes.

13.2% of households in England are experiencing fuel poverty, which is higher in the North: 17.5% of households in Yorkshire and Humber, and 14.4% in both the North East and North West. These figures are expected to significantly rise over the coming months, with End Fuel Poverty Coalition predicting that over a quarter of all households in England (over 6.3m households) will be fuel poor from April 2022 when the price cap is increased.

It was also confirmed today that we can expect the Government’s delayed energy security strategy “in the coming weeks”. The NHC will be following these developments closely to see how the Prime Minister, the Chancellor and the rest of the Cabinet plan to bring together their goals to address the cost-of-living crisis, reduce the UK’s reliance on non-renewables and reach net zero.

The NHC will continue to work with members on the decarbonisation agenda and with Government through BEIS’ Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund Consultative Panel.

If you haven’t read it already, we would recommend having a look at the Social Housing Tenants’ Climate Jury’s recommendations on how to tackle climate change in our homes and neighbourhoods for excellent insight into housing retrofit from social housing tenants, access it here.