Public Practice expands to the North of England: join us on 12th May to hear more

Public Practice, the social enterprise with a mission to build the public sector’s capacity to improve places, is expanding its placement programme to the North of England, to include the North-West, North East and Yorkshire & the Humber regions.

This announcement comes as Public Practice’s national Local Authority Resourcing and Skills Survey finds that difficulties attracting skilled staff is by far the largest recruitment issue faced by local authorities, cited by 79% of the survey’s respondents. Local authority members of the NHC were invited to take part in the survey earlier this year.

Key findings included:

  • 79% faced difficulty attracting appropriately qualified or skilled candidates, the most common issue with recruitment by far, nearly 30 points above the next most pressing difficulties cited by around half of all respondents, such as funding, retention, or recruitment delays
  • There is a clear demand for built environment skills across the board, with the following areas prioritised by more than half of all respondents:
    • Digital & Data (64.3%)
    • Architecture, Urban Design and Master Planning (62.2%)
    • Environmental Sustainability (60.3%)
    • Ecology & Biodiversity (56.5%)
  • As a combined geography, the North has ambitious recruitment plans for the next 12 months.

Public Practice plays a key role in supporting public sector authorities to identify gaps in the capacity of planning and place-shaping teams. The organisation then matches skilled candidates to year-long placements with authorities, which are supported by learning, development and knowledge sharing activities. In February, Homes England with the support of the Department of Levelling Up, Homes and Communities (DLUHC) launched their investment of just over £200,000 in Public Practice, to enable the not-for-profit’s expansion across the country.

This week’s announcement is Public Practice’s first step towards this and emerges from three months of extensive consultation and research to build evidence to shape the direction and approach for how it will expand its programme nationally.

Call for local authorities and candidates

  • Public Practice recruitment is now open for placements in the North (North-West, the North East and Yorkshire & the Humber regions) and also in the South East (London, South East and East of England regions) from the 25th of April to the 30th of May.
  • Public Sector bodies – including Combined Authorities, Local Authorities, County Councils, and Unitary Authorities – are invited to express their interest here
  • Applications from built environment experts with a minimum of three years of experience are invited here.

Pooja Agrawal, Chief Executive of Public Practice, will join us for a 1 hour webinar on Thursday 12th May to discuss the programme in more detail and invite comments and questions from NHC members. Click here to book your place.

Supporting you to create better homes and places

We’ve launched our ambitious new corporate plan – it sets out how we’ll support you over the next three years to help you create better homes and places.

Created by our full staff team alongside our member-led Board, our Corporate Plan has been shaped by our members – through engagement activity, shared future challenges and our perceptions research – here is a deeper dive into our plans over the next three years.

At the heart of our Corporate Plan is your unrivalled member experience. We will continue to build strong relationships with our members, delivering solutions which fit your evolving needs and ensuring excellence in the development and delivery of our services.

Our unique membership of councils, housing associations, ALMOs and combined authorities means we can bring together professionals across the housing sector to help create better homes and places. We will create a community of support, networking and industry insight across the membership.

We will build on our existing and effective partnerships, working with those who share our members’ interests to maximise reach and impact (recognising the integral link between housing, health and other sectors), whilst ensuring best use of our own resources.

We will use collaboration opportunities to expand our range of solutions and access others’ expertise, driving better choice and value for members and driving income for reinvestment in the NHC and Consortium Procurement.  We will work with other consortia strategically to use our collective power to aggregate demand, stimulate local supply chains, build skills and expertise and offer regional solutions. We will strengthen relationships with our key supply partners, utilising their expertise in the support of our members’ needs – we aim to complement rather than duplicate.

We will influence on the priorities that are shared by you – meeting the Net Zero challenge and putting housing at the heart of a rebalanced country. Through our influencing activities we will secure change using a robust evidence base on the issues that matter to members, we will strengthen our relationships with decision makers and policy shapers locally, regionally and nationally, ensuring the people who count respond to our core policy objectives.

Through engagement with members we will demonstrate our focus on members’ key agenda items outside of influencing priorities. While we are committed to our influencing priorities shared by our northern members – net zero and rebalancing – our wider engagement activity reflects the diverse and wide-ranging issues our members face. Through our events and engagement programme we will support you to navigate challenges, share best practice and deliver excellent services.

We will continue to offer a rewarding, supportive place to work where we invest in people, they can be themselves and fulfil their potential – an organisation we are all proud to be a part of. We will build on our organisational structure and support framework that enables our staff team to thrive, act autonomously, competently, and become subject matter experts in their field.

We will ensure that Sustainability, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, and Wellbeing are considered at the heart of everything we do as an organisation – informing and supporting our members and the way we work internally.

Over the next three years our new plan will guide the delivery of our mission: to bring together housing in the North to develop insight, influence and solutions for our members.  We’d love to receive member feedback email

The real lives behind the ‘heat or eat’ headlines 

Citizens Advice Gateshead, independent charity and longstanding member of the national Citizens Advice network, has provided first line support to hundreds of families who are already living the reality of the cost-of-living crisis. Chief Executive Alison Dunn is determined to raise awareness amongst policy makers and support services of the real truths behind the ‘heat or eat’ headlines which she sees as a gross oversimplification of a grave situation that’s becoming more serious by the day. 

“Using the term ‘heat OR eat’ gives the impression that people have a choice. That would indeed be a terrible plight on families across the North, but in our recent experience the reality is far worse. Many people simply can’t afford to do either, with demand for food banks rocketing and literally hundreds of people ‘self-disconnecting’ from smart meter utility services every week since the price cap increased.”  

Alison says the charity’s front-line advisers have never seen anything like the range of people who are now facing serious financial difficulties, and the statistics present a bleak picture: 

  • Advice enquiries have almost doubled since the same time last year, and worryingly an increasing proportion of people in employment are looking for support. As a charity this is a real challenge as our resources haven’t increased in line with demand.  
  • In Gateshead alone we’re dealing with energy enquiries now in the thousands, with an enormous 186% growth over the past 2 years, and the number of people needing support from food banks for the first quarter this year has doubled year on year.  
  • In the last month alone our advisers have supported 3 times as many people to access charitable grants compared to the same time last year, and a high proportion of the grants are buying bedding, carpets and curtains as people build their warmth reserves for later in the year. 

But what of the story behind the scenes – what’s the day-to-day reality behind the ‘heat of eat’ headline?  

Fuel poverty is destroying people’s basic standard of living. Watching the smart meter in a tail spin when they boil the kettle, cook a meal, turn on a light, have a shower, watch TV or charge the mobile phone has led to genuine anxiety, and is impacting on everyday life. One adviser reported “I’ve had clients in appointments ask me if they smell bad because they’ve not had hot water to wash so are concerned it’s affecting their hygiene, they are really concerned and anxious about this and it affects their ability to leave the house which is a barrier to them getting help.” 

People facing illness and disability are disproportionately affected by low temperatures and lack of food. One adviser described the experience of a client who is diabetic. “They need to keep their electricity on else their insulin won’t be kept refrigerated making it unsafe to use which is potentially life threatening, but they also need to have food because if they have a hypo this too is life threatening.  They need to heat and eat to protect their physical wellbeing”. 

Travel costs are no longer viable leading to the need to choose between home or work. Described by one adviser in stark terms: “I’ve had a couple of clients in the difficult situation of not being able to afford the combination of utilities, food, and travel, but if they sacrifice travel they lose their work income – or sacrifice travel to the job centre with risk of sanctions, either of which spirals their situation further, but also don’t want to be unable to wash due to lack of hot water or to go hungry at work/home. I’ve had a client describe to me walking 6+ miles round trip to work daily, waking up at 4am every day to do so, doing a manual job on an empty stomach, then walking home.” Even being able to afford transport home from the foodbank is a prevalent issue people are facing, leading to them going without food albeit a food voucher has been received. 

And all this when the weather is mild … 

Ian Young who is a Consumer Energy Team Leader at the charity believes that as well as needing more capacity in social welfare services such as Citizens Advice Gateshead people need to be helped with energy advice.  

“People are checking smart meters in the morning and find their credit has dropped by £2 even though they aren’t using electricity, so we tell them that charging a phone overnight, or leaving a TV on standby, need unfortunately to be habits of the past, as every unit of energy now costs so much more than it ever has before”.  Ian believes that landlords could play a role in helping with the role out of practical ‘not so obvious’ energy advice to tenants, as in this current situation every little helps.  

But even adopting good consumer habits will only scratch the surface of the problem that’s building at an exponential rate. Arianne Graven, Legal Advice Services Manager at Citizens Advice Gateshead believes that choices are far more fundamental than heat or eat. Her team has seen a significant increase in the level of rent and mortgage arrears people are presenting, as rent payments are being missed to cover the cost of other household bills.  

“The cost-of-living crisis is causing people’s financial situations to spiral out of control very quickly. We used to be concerned about the people who were ‘just coping’ as they were living on a knife edge a lot of the time. Now, not being able to keep a roof over their heads at all is becoming a real worry for families. Even people who were fairly comfortable are having to make such difficult choices to be able to afford their essential costs and utilities.” 

The cost-of-living crisis is presenting far deeper issues for people than whether to heat or eat. Energy prices are having an almost bewildering impact on people’s basic standard of living, and Alison Dunn is concerned that the real implications of the onset of colder weather in the Autumn aren’t properly understood.  

“The thermos flask has now become a staple for families, to avoid boiling the kettle more than necessary. Our advisers are now facing the unenviable task of recommending hot water bottles, layered clothing and wearing hats indoors to prepare people for the very real prospect of no longer being able to heat their homes, instead having to focus on heating themselves. This has really serious implications for people’s wellbeing and everyday family life, and is also likely to result in irreversible consequences for housing that’s susceptible to deterioration through a lack of heat. The whole support system needs to mobilise to get a grip on this crisis immediately.”  

The NHC in partnership with Citizens Advice Gateshead, Money & Pensions Service and Society Matters will be discussing these issues and showcasing approached adopted in mitigating the impact of the cost of living on families, communities and employees, for further information click here for Session 1 and here for Session 2. 

Jayne Graham MBE FIEP 

Commercial Director, Citizens Advice Gateshead 

Cumbria Climate Conversation

Last month the Northern Housing Consortium was delighted to join colleagues across Cumbria to discuss the just transition to Net Zero and what this looks like for housing. Joining NHC members in the area as well as stakeholders with an interest in housing and climate change, the NHC used the meeting to promote the findings of the Social Housing Tenants’ Climate Jury.

The roundtable was organised by Action with Communities in Cumbria (ACT), a rural and community development charity championing community level responses to the biggest issues of the day. The meeting was hosted as part of the work of the Community Led Housing Hub for Cumbria and Lancaster which provides support and access to technical expertise for groups developing new affordable housing in their areas.

The NHC was joined by other speakers to cover an agenda which looked at housing and decarbonisation issues across neighbourhoods. Attendees discussed support available for privately owned housing, including those in the PRS, to make green homes upgrades; how organisations in the social rented sector were addressing tenants concerns around the retrofit process; and the opportunity provided by community led housing to develop a housing offer for communities both affordable and meeting the highest energy standards.

Fran Richardson, ACT’s Lead Adviser on Housing commented:

“Supporting community led approaches to housing often leads to detailed discussions amongst non-professionals about the challenge of reducing carbon emissions associated with our homes. The Housing Hub has been determined to air and explore some of the tricky areas of development, alongside the motivations of the people involved. Raising the profile of climate change and helping groups and organisations consider what they can do to reduce impact has been an important part of our work.

The work of the Northern Housing consortium with the Social Housing Tenants’ Climate Jury was hugely informative for our conversation, focussing on the work ahead for social housing providers. Putting tenants at the heart of the conversation, rather than considering them an obstacle to be worked around, is both necessary and refreshing.

I was particularly impressed by the ambition and scope of the recommendations made by the Jury. It was clear that they understood the urgency to take action on climate change and some of the options available which would have greatest impact – like higher standards of insulation. The practical approach to managing contractors in your own home and wanting to be sure that the work will be both timely and to a high standard, reflects very real issues, plaguing the retrofit sector. The recommendation that work force development should be a part of the way forward was also testament to their understanding.

It will be important that the recommendations are taken seriously and embedded into the forward planning of the engaged Housing Associations. This is a really progressive approach to engaging social housing tenants in this vital work. What comes through is that they want to see the work done as soon and as well as possible. If we are to meet our decarbonisation targets we need to be learning fast and sharing these Jury results.”


To read more the Action with Communities in Cumbria event Housing and Social Justice: Moving to Net Zero Carbon, click HERE.

 More information on the work of ACT can be found HERE.

 More information on the Community Led Housing Hub for Cumbria and Lancaster can be found HERE.

Decent Homes Standard Review: Phase Two update

The 2020 Social Housing White Paper confirmed a review of the Decent Homes Standard, the first time the Standard has been updated since 2006.  The first phase of the review – focused on establishing a case for change to the current standard – concluded last Autumn, with the NHC having played an active role as a core participant in the Review.

In February 2022, the Levelling-Up White Paper announced a new ‘mission’ to halve the number of non-decent rented homes by 2030, with the biggest improvements in the lowest performing areas. This mission encompasses the social rented and private rented sectors – and marks the first time a decent homes standard has been applied to the whole private rented sector.

Since the White Paper was published, the NHC has engaged with officials at DLUHC working on both the private and social rented elements of this work. It’s clear that ministers want the same standard to apply to both sectors, and are keen to progress the review. We’ve also been encouraged that officials recognise that some of the lowest performing private rented sector stock is located in the North and Midlands – presenting a potential opportunity to progress the improvement or regeneration of these homes, which is a long-standing priority for many of the NHC’s local authority members.

Phase 2 of the review, focused on the development of a new Standard, has now begun, with the Sounding Board the NHC sits on having met three times in April. The intention is to develop a new standard at pace, and for there to be a formal consultation on this proposed standard – possibly as soon as this Summer.

The same standard is intended to apply to the social and private rented sectors. Perhaps reflecting this, potential new regulatory standards being considered for inclusion in the revised Standard are narrower than previously thought, and largely focused on safety and security. The Thermal Comfort Criterion, which Phase One identified as being significantly outdated, is being considered separately and it seems likely this will be consulted on in parallel with the new DHS. This is in the context of a precious consultation in raising Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards in the PRS to EPC C, and a pledge to consult on an EPC C regulatory standard in the social rented sector.

The Department are also considering the use of guidance and best practice on issues identified in Part 1 of the review, such as green spaces, climate adaptation, digital connectivity, adaptations, and resident/tenant engagement on planned maintenance.

The NHC’s Private Rented Sector Network will be discussing the application of a Decent Homes Standard to the PRS at their meeting on May 17th, where we’ll be joined by officials from the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. NHC members can attend the network at no charge – book your place using MyNHC.

Those interested in the Decent Homes Review can join the NHC’s mailing list for updates – email to join the list.

The NHC has submitted written comments to the Department on the areas being considered for inclusion in the new Standard. We will also be responding to the formal consultation in due course. For any questions about the development of the new Standard, or if you would like the NHC to speak to your team or tenants about the progress of the review, please contact

Welcome back to in-person conferences – striking a balance

Kate Maughan, Director of Member Engagement

You said, we did

We know that NHC members value the opportunity to come together. The challenges of the last two years have meant we needed to adapt and modernise the way we deliver our programme of events and engagement opportunities. As we emerge from the worst of the pandemic, we remain committed to enabling our members to build strong and deep relationships with each other, and with decision makers and policy shapers. We aim to deliver an unrivalled member experience – this blog sets out how we intend to do that.

In 2020, our focus was on in-person opportunities; offering a digital option for events was on the radar for the future, but we had concerns – do members want this? Does everyone have the technology they need to access digital events? Will anyone attend?

Fast forward to today, and we have the answers to those questions and more. We asked you what you’d like to see from us, and the response was overwhelmingly in favour of keeping most of our engagement events online. Here at the NHC, we’ve found that offering digital events allows us to engage even more frequently, and across a wider range of topics, than we were able to do in-person. Key points from the feedback were:

Network meetings, roundtables and seminars are better delivered online

Because these engagement events tend to be shorter, you told us the travelling required at either side wasn’t a good use of your time. Members feel that the information shared at these events, and the resulting discussion, works equally well – and in many cases, better – online.

Larger conferences are better delivered in-person

We know that networking with colleagues is really important, but difficult – if not impossible! -to replicate online. You told us that for larger, full day conferences you would prefer to attend in person, so that’s what we’ll do in 2022.

A note on sustainability

If you’ve seen our new corporate plan, you’ll know that we’re putting sustainability at the heart of all of our activities. We want to minimise our environmental impact and embed sustainability as a core principle of how we work, and as part of this, you’ll notice some changes at our in-person events. Conferences traditionally create a lot of waste and leave a large carbon footprint: booklets, flyers, and programmes that sit on desks for a few weeks then make their way to the recycling bin. We want to change that.

  • All event documents will be online, with QR codes on tables so you can access the very latest programme on the day. Documents will be optimised for viewing on laptops, mobile phones and tablets;
  • We’ll email materials to you in advance, so if you do need a paper copy for any reason, you’ll have time to print one;
  • We’ll ask you to bring your organisational name badge to the event so other delegates can identify you, and vice versa – this means we won’t need to print badges to use on the day.

Upcoming in-person conferences

21st June 2022, Leeds: National Resident Involvement Conference: Levelling Up Resident and Community Engagement

14th July 2022, Leeds: Levelling Up: Housing at the Heart of a Rebalanced Country

9th November 2022, Manchester: Northern Housing Summit (bookings will open soon)

If you have any feedback on our plans for conferences, or would like to discuss, please don’t hesitate to get in touch:

We’re looking forward to welcoming you back very soon.

Supply over demand: The Government’s Energy Security Strategy misses the mark on energy efficiency

Ahead of the Government’s Energy Security Strategy published this month, there were hopes within the housing sector and beyond that BEIS and Treasury would use this opportunity to strengthen their approach to reduce the amount of energy we use by improving the energy efficiency of homes. Unfortunately, these expectations were not met and no new support has been announced.

The NHC’s Chief Executive Tracy Harrison commented:

“The Government have missed the opportunity to use the Energy Security Strategy to double down on efforts to make homes more energy efficient and reduce household bills. The Strategy’s focus on long-term energy supply has overlooked the required additional support to reduce energy demand now by improving the energy performance of homes. We hope to see further plans to accelerate home upgrades and transition to affordable, clean heat as part of the package to address rising energy bills and reduce the UK’s reliance on gas.”

The Government has had a tricky task for some time to respond to continuing rising prices in global gas markets which have been pushing household bills through the roof. This of course has been made even more complex by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the pressure to rebalance global energy markets away from reliance on gas from Russia. While the UK only relies on Russian gas for a small percentage of its energy (4% of total gas supply and 8% of oil demand), prices are still set in these markets so UK households are exposed to the volatility of overall gas prices.

Boris Johnson and his government have been reportedly conflicted on the most appropriate way to address these issues, with the Energy Security Strategy subsequently delayed many times in recent months. There have been varied demands from within the Conservative Party including calls to exploit fossil fuels further such as through fracking and increased drilling in the North Sea, and even to abandon net zero targets altogether. But there were also voices from within the governing party advocating for increased energy efficiency measures to be a key part of the energy strategy. Reports also emerged prior to the Strategy’s publication of Chancellor Rishi Sunak and his Treasury team outlining their reluctance to provide further support to upgrade the energy efficiency of homes.

The outcome of this debate was revealed this month when the Energy Security Strategy was finally published.

What was announced?

The Strategy focussed mainly on energy supply to help the UK reach its target of net zero by 2050 and includes ambitious new targets on offshore wind and nuclear energy. It was reported that plans to expand new onshore wind turbines were dropped from the Strategy due to existing conflict about wind farms within Johnson’s Cabinet. Reaction to this from the energy sector has been widely criticised as onshore wind is an effective short-term supply option and generally cheaper and more quickly deployed than other options, especially compared to nuclear power which is costly and slow to implement.

The overall ambition to align the energy system with net zero in the long-term is welcome. The North is already leading the way on renewable energy, with half of England’s renewable energy being generated in the region.

On low carbon heating, the Strategy announced a Heat Pump Investment Accelerator Competition in 2022 worth up to £30m. This is in addition to the Government’s Boiler Upgrade Scheme, opened this month, which will provide grants of up to £5,000 to help with the upfront cost of installing low carbon technologies, such as heat pumps. Further commitment to heat pump technology is welcome but the Accelerator is a modest sum in relation to the Government’s target for 600,000 heat pump installations per year by 2028.

The Strategy also references expanding investment to support the creation of green finance products to “introduce a scheme under which lenders will work to improve the energy performance of the properties against which they lend”.

The Heat and Buildings Strategy committed Government to incentivising electrification through the rebalancing of levies on household bills that currently favour the use of gas. The Energy Security Strategy commits to publishing proposals on how to make this happen by the end of 2022. This is a hugely important step in the decarbonisation process to ensure that technologies such as heat pumps, which are powered by electricity, are cheaper to run in the long-term.

The Fairness and Affordability Review promised in the Heat and Buildings Strategy aims to address this affordability point. We urge Government to bring this review forward as soon as possible to ensure the transition to clean heat does not raise costs for low-income households.

What was missing?

In the introductory section, the Strategy outlines that the “first step [to reducing household bills] is to improve energy efficiency, reducing the amount of energy that households and businesses need”. The document later states that the “majority of our homes are energy inefficient” and “improving the efficiency of our homes could reduce our heating bills by around 20% and reduce our dependency on foreign gas.” The NHC strongly agrees with this assessment that we need to reduce the amount of energy we use in the first place, but the Strategy fails to back up these premises with further support to deliver on them.

The Strategy goes on to outline previous announcements by Government on energy efficiency, including the support announced in the Heat and Buildings Strategy, the work carried out so far through the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund, the expansion of the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) to £1bn per year, and other existing measures.

We know that levels of fuel poverty have been rising and are expected to continue to rise this year with a further price cap increase to come in October. Communities in the North are particularly vulnerable to these continually rising costs as the North started with higher-than-average levels of fuel poverty. The Energy Security Strategy was the next opportunity after the Chancellor’s Spring Statement for Government to minimise the impact of rising bills and prevent households having to make difficult financial choices between heating their homes and other essentials.

The Northern Housing Monitor showed that 270,000 homes per year in the North will need to be retrofitted until 2035 just to reach the Government’s own EPC C target (the energy efficiency benchmark). There is still a lot of work to do across tenures to achieve this.

The Climate Change Committee (CCC) is Government’s independent advisor on tackling climate change. The CCC’s response to the Energy Security Strategy is also one of disappointment in relation to the lack of ambition to reduce energy demand. The CCC have praised the ambition to accelerate plans to secure clean, green, homegrown energy, especially on offshore wind. But they commented the Government will need to do more in the coming months on energy efficiency to cut energy bills for households.

In a response to an urgent question from Baroness Hayman on the Strategy not going far enough on insulation schemes, BEIS Minister Lord Callanan told the House of Lords: “It would have been good to have gone further, but the Treasury would not support it.” It is disappointing that the efforts of BEIS on this agenda have been largely disregarded by Treasury at this stage.

The North is already leading the way on renewable energy, the region now has the potential to lead the way on energy efficiency improvements and heat pump installations. An inclusive approach to housing decarbonisation would reduce household bills, cut carbon emissions, create new green jobs in the region, and lead to better health outcomes.

We will continue to work on behalf of our members to accelerate the harnessing of these benefits in the North, especially ahead of this winter, to support the creation of sustainable homes and communities across the region.

Read the full Energy Security Strategy here.

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

NHC joins the call to ask Government to bring forward new laws to regulate social housing

Earlier this month we supported the call, led by Shelter, to urge Government to bring the Social Housing Regulation Bill to parliament as soon as possible. The open letter urged Secretary of State Michael Gove to prioritise making law the proposals outlined in the Social Housing White Paper, published in November 2020.

The white paper set out a new charter for social housing tenants with plans to reform the regulation of social housing with a focus on consumer standards. This followed from the publication of the Social Housing Green Paper in 2018 after the Grenfell Tower fire. While NHC members have undertaken extensive work to engage more effectively with tenants throughout that period, legislation to enact the new consumer regulation regime is long overdue.

There have been some developments since the publication of the white paper.  For example, the review of the Decent Homes Standard announced in the white paper is being turbocharged by the Levelling Up White Paper’s commitment to halve the number of non-decent homes in the rented sectors by 2030. The Standard will be extended to the private rented sector for the first time. The Regulator has also undergone a consultation to establish new Tenant Satisfaction Measures, as outlined in the Social Housing White Paper, as part of the new proposed consumer regulatory regime.

This month, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) published a series of sample draft clauses to be brought forward in the Social Housing Regulation Bill “when parliamentary time allows”. DLUHC make clear with this draft publication that they are continuing to encourage landlords to consider what action they can take now to prepare for these regulatory changes.

Along with the draft clauses, DLUHC also published plans to create a Social Housing Quality Resident Panel (accepting applications from tenants to join until 29th April); plans to ‘name and shame’ poor practice by social landlords on social media; and a factsheet explaining the role of the Regulator and Housing Ombudsman.

The NHC has joined with Grenfell United, Kwajo Tweneboa, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Placeshapers, TPAS, CIH, NHF and others to ask Government to make this legislation a priority in the next parliamentary session (the Queen’s Speech to set the Government’s agenda is scheduled to take place on Tuesday 10th May 2022).

Read coverage of the joint letter by Housing Correspondent, Vicky Spratt, in i news here and the full text can be seen below:

“Nearly five years after the Grenfell Tower fire, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has now published their draft Bill to regulate social housing.

This law is beyond overdue. Recent exposure of the living conditions and frustrations of some residents has revealed the continued devastating impact of poor housing conditions on our communities.

While we will continue to work with the Government to ensure this Bill does all it can do– we now need to prioritise getting these changes onto the statute book.

Residents deserve respect, and for their voices to be heard. Well-managed and well-funded social housing is vital if the government is to restore a sense of local pride and belonging to every neighbourhood.

This legislation would allow the social housing regulator to get to work building a system that delivers real accountability and gives tenants a voice. There is no reason for delay. The promises made to the bereaved, residents and survivors of the Grenfell fire should become the law this spring.

English Housing Survey figures reveal four per cent of social rented properties have some type of damp problem, compared to two per cent of owner-occupied homes.

A Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities spokesperson said: ““No one should have to live in a substandard home. Our priority is to create a fairer social rented sector for everyone.

We will introduce new legislation to improve the quality and regulation of social housing, give residents extra information to help hold their landlord to account and ensure that when residents make a complaint, landlords take quick and effective action to put things right.”

The letter was signed by:

Natasha Elcock (Chair) Grenfell United

Rob Gershon, Social Housing Campaigner

Darren Baxter (Housing and Policy and Partnerships Manager) Joseph Rowntree Foundation

Chloe Fletcher (Policy Director) National Federation of ALMOs

Tracy Harrison (CEO) Northern Housing Consortium

Darren Hartley (CEO)TAROE Trust

Kate Henderson (CEO) National Housing Federation

Alison Inman, SHOUT

Alistair McIntosh (CEO) Housing Quality Network

Geeta Nanda OBE (CEO) Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing and Chair, G15

Polly Neate (CEO) Shelter

Jenny Osbourne (CEO) TPAS

Nick Reynolds (Chair) National Federation of Tenant Management Organisations

Gavin Smart (CEO) Chartered Institute of Housing

Kwajo Tweneboa, Social Housing Campaigner

Matthew Walker (CEO) Leeds Federated Housing Association and Chair, PlaceShapers

Social Housing Tenants’ Climate Jury Webinar Series – Watch Now!

As part of its commitment to promote the work of the Social Housing Tenants’ Climate Jury, and begin a dialogue as to how the social housing sector can implement the Jury’s recommendations, the Northern Housing Consortium recently arranged the Social Housing Tenants’ Climate Jury Webinar Series. Recordings of the series are available for all NHC members to watch now via the below link.

Across the different sessions expert speakers, including commentators who originally gave ‘evidence’ to the Jury, discussed examples of what the Jury felt represented good practice in decarbonising homes as well as the wider implications of retrofit and climate change highlighted as core concerns.

The webinars looked at:

  • The resident centred retrofit journey – highlighting good practice from all tenures, the small details needed to ensure all possible disruption is mitigated against and tenants assured, and the new roles housing providers are investing in.
  • Expanding climate and decarbonisation education in social housing – including a focus on the rise of carbon literacy training in the sector, the innovative approaches to engaging and informing our communities, and the role of industry in ensuring the user journey in renewable heating technology is as smooth as possible.
  • Tackling climate change and building communities – considering ways in which housing retrofit can be made one part of making neighbourhoods more environmentally friendly but also happier, healthier places. Speakers discussed improving collaboration between all community stakeholders, projects complementing retrofit work with wider neighbourhood transformation, and how housing providers can lead the way in opening up and maximising community green spaces.
  • Creating good green jobs at the local level and ensuring opportunity for all – building on the Jury’s desire to see housing providers working with business, education, and Government to drive job creation in green industries and the roles that will decarbonise the built environment. Speakers discussed the central role housing providers can play as anchor institutions, large employers in their areas, and organisations with a vested interest in investing in people as well as place.

The Social Housing Tenants’ Climate Jury Webinar Series can be viewed HERE.

The Housing Ombudsman launches call for evidence on noise complaints

Social housing landlords and residents are being asked to provide evidence to a new investigation, which will explore how social landlords manage reports of noise nuisance and what drives complaints about how those are handled.

The Ombudsman has received a “significant” number of complaints relating to noise over the past three years, with over 40% of complaints resulting in maladministration.

The investigation aims to understand how approaches to noise nuisance work in practice and how landlords work with other agencies.

It will also ask what is successful in mitigating inherent, or unavoidable, modern noise and what is successful intervention.

In addition to the survey responses, the Ombudsman will also draw from its casebook and from members of its resident panel.

Richard Blakeway, Housing Ombudsman, said: “Noise complaints can have a particularly significant impact on residents causing deep frustration and stress, and it’s an area that also presents difficult challenges for landlords.

We are keen to examine all aspects of noise related complaints and particularly how complaints are managed under anti-social behaviour policies. The statutory thresholds can be high and result in a lengthy process for residents while they may continue to experience the disturbance.”

He also said the investigation will also examine the relationship between anti-social behaviour and noise with best practice and learning being shared across the social housing sector.

The online survey will close on Friday 13 May and can be accessed via the Housing Ombudsman website.

The Housing Ombudsman was granted powers to investigate systemic issues in 2020. It has since produced Spotlight reports on damp and mouldheating and hot water, and cladding complaints.

For further information about this matter please contact