In recent months, the NHC has brought together it’s membership of Housing Associations, Local Authorities, and ALMO’s to form two new Networks. The new groups, which will offer members a space to network, share learning, and collaborate, focus on two of the most pertinent issues facing the North’s housing sector today – building safety, and raising and enforcing quality in the Private Rented Sector.
To receive further information on either network including future meetings, join the Network Mailing List by contacting Kristina Dawson, Business Intelligence Assistant, Northern Housing Consortium: Kristina.Dawson@northern-consortium.org.uk.
Building Safety Network
The Building Safety Network has been formed as part of the NHC’s support to members around the introduction of regulatory and legislative changes found in the Social Housing White Paper.
The core focus of the group will be measures found in Chapter One of the White Paper: To Be Safe in Your Home, and relate to the Draft Building Safety Bill, currently making it’s way through Parliament, revolving around a nominated manager responsible for health and safety, and the development of a tenant engagement strategy based on existing good practice.
As with other NHC member networks, meetings will enjoy input from colleagues at Ward Hadaway who will inform discussion based on their expertise covering health and safety and building construction law.
The first meeting of the network highlighted that, despite clarity as of yet, NHC members were being proactive in reviewing their building safety operations and developing new teams and systems to meet the forthcoming regulatory environment. Discussion covered for example Fire Risk Assessments, training and competency frameworks, developing new tenant engagement strategies, innovative uses of data, and relevant out of scope work.
Private Rented Sector Network
In recent years, the Northern Housing Consortium’s longstanding interest in the regeneration of mixed tenure communities has led to a focus on raising and enforcing standards in the North’s Private Rented Sector.
Building on the NHC’s work in support of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Housing in the North’s Inquiry into Property Standards in the North’s PRS, and development of the final report No Homes Left Behind, the NHC has convened a Network for members focussed on the PRS. The Network is chaired by Dr Julie Rugg, Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Housing Policy at the University of York. Julie is a renowned academic focusing on the PRS and a central figure behind influential publications such as The Evolving Private Rented Sector: Its Contribution and Potential and Safer Renting: Journeys in the Shadow Private Rented Sector.
This PRS Network will look to complement, not duplicate, the valuable peer-to-peer networking already taking place between NHC members in their own regions and will instead offer a space for pan-northern knowledge sharing, develop a northern voice in the national debate on Renter’s Reform, and offer a bridge to academia, Landlord Bodies, Tenant Unions, and devolved authorities.
The first meeting of the Network saw Dr Jugg give an introductory presentation entitled An Agenda for the PRS in the North: Current Trends and the Next Big Question. This wide ranging talk for example covered the future purpose of the PRS, how the PRS market is reconfiguring in towns and cities, the impact of ‘outside’ investment, the particular challenges of the PRS in rural areas, and the network’s priority focus of how to raise and enforce property quality.
Subsequent discussion amongst attendees outlined a programme of focus for future meetings; good practice in joining up strategic housing functions across strategy, planning, and private sector enforcement, innovative uses of data and tracking / ‘predicting’ property tenure and condition, a discussion with the Land Registry on landlord identification, learning from MHCLG pilots covering exempt accommodation, and engaging with health professionals and social prescribing.