The NHC responds to the Homes England Public Bodies Review

The government has published the Homes England Public Bodies Review.

Our Chief Executive Tracy Harrison welcomed the report.

She said:

“We’re pleased to see the importance of Homes England’s role in both place-based regeneration and supporting local places deliver more, better homes, reflected throughout the Public Bodies Review. This was something both ourselves and many of our members stressed throughout the process.

“In particular we are delighted to see recommendations that will help achieve a real step-change in regeneration across the North such as providing longer-term funding for regeneration projects and affordable housing supply, and embedding changes to how value-for-money is measured in order to better support regeneration. We are also pleased to see the Review set out so clearly the impact the changing operating environment for social housing providers has had on development, and the need for DESNZ and Homes England to work closer together to support decarbonising the existing social housing stock. We hope DLUHC press on with implementing the review as quickly as possible.”



The NHC calls on the government to meet Renters Reform Bill pledges

Last week it was widely reported that the government intend to weaken some elements of Renters Reform Bill, through a series of amendments, when the Bill returns to the House of Commons this month.

Principle among those changes is extending the period within which a tenant cannot give notice that they wish to end their tenancy from two to six months. The government also intends to review existing arrangements around landlord licensing schemes overseen by local authorities in line with the reforms made through the Bill.

Finally, the reports further confirm that the government does not intend to abolish Section 21 or ‘no fault’ evictions until reforms to the court system have been implemented.

The NHC has consistently supported the aims of the Renters Reform Bill, to improve quality in the private rental sector, and to closer align the security of tenancies offered in the private and social rental sectors. We are disappointed that the government intends to water down the proposals in the Bill.

Tracy Harrison, Chief Executive of the Northern Housing Consortium said:

“We are pleased the Renters’ Reform Bill will progress through Parliament, but disappointed by reports it is being watered down. The decision to delay the abolition of Section 21 evictions effectively kicks the issue into the long-grass and could weaken protections for tenants. Government must set a date when the assessment on the impact on the courts of these changes will be complete.

“Government must also continue with its commitment to apply the Decent Homes Standard to the Private Rental Sector and set out a plan for improving the energy efficiency of private rented homes. Across the North bringing all private rent homes to EPC C will cost around £5.4bn.

“Meanwhile a review of local authority licensing schemes aimed at reducing the burden on landlords could weaken one of the few tools available to improve the quality of private rented homes.

“Our recent Living in Fear Report highlighted the negative impacts of living in poor quality private rented housing. One of its key recommendations was the speedy progress of the Renters’ Reform Bill through Parliament.”

50 Unlocking Success awards to mark our 50th anniversary

We’ve launched a bigger and better version of Unlocking Success, our tenant bursary scheme, with 50 awards to support people living in homes rented from social housing providers to access learning. The number of awards has been increased to celebrate our 50th anniversary.

This year we’re offering a mixture of grants for specific items such as laptops or travel passes, and £500 cash bursaries to support with the cost of learning. The bursaries can be used to cover costs including course fees, travel, equipment, childcare and even living expenses.

Unlocking Success launched in 2019 and has supported 101 people living in social housing with over £36,000 of funding to help them release their ambitions by accessing education or training.

Northern Housing Consortium Chief Executive Tracy Harrison said:

“We wanted to put the people who live in social housing at the heart of our 50th anniversary celebrations. We know that costs for things like equipment, travel or even childcare can be a barrier which prevent people on low incomes accessing training. Our bursary scheme helps ease that burden and has already supported over 100 people.

“It’s always inspiring to hear the difference the awards make. This year we’ve pledged to offer 50 awards and have also opened up the scheme to affiliate members who use our procurement services via Consortium Procurement.”

Last year Simone Blount, who is a tenant with NHC member Torus, received a £500 bursary to help her complete training to join the ambulance service. Since she received the bursary, she’s completed the training and got a job with the ambulance service.

After receiving the bursary, Simone said:

I have applied for the C1 on my license now, and I can’t wait to start my driver training, which wouldn’t have been possible any time soon without this bursary! I am so happy and grateful to have people supporting and believing in me, and to be chosen for it.

“I am definitely on the right path now and will soon be working and training with North West Ambulance Service as an EMT or training to be a paramedic at Warrington Vale.”

Applications for Unlocking Success awards are now open and will close on 5th July. The application process is quick and easy. Landlords, who are full or affiliate members of the NHC, nominate a person living in a home they own or manage (they do not have to be named on the tenancy but must be aged over 16) for the award, by filling in a short form, which should only take five minutes. The person they’ve nominated sends a short-written pitch or video to explain why they need the funding to support with training or education. You apply via the Unlocking Success website.

The Unlocking Success Bursary is funded through the Northern Housing Consortium Charitable Trust.

APPG for Housing in the North convenes for first session of 2024

NHC CEO Tracy Harrison with APPG Chair Ian Mearns MP

In March, the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Housing in the North convened to host the Parliamentary launch of the latest edition of the Northern Housing Monitor, the Northern Housing Consortiums annual publication of the most-pressing housing issues facing northern regions and the data which underpins them. The meeting was attended by a range of Parliamentarians including APPG Chair Ian Mearns MP, Peers Lord Stunell (APPG Vice Chair), the Lord Bishop of Manchester and Lord Shipley. There was also representation from the Labour frontbench with Shadow Minister for Local Services and Communities, Liz Twist MP, in attendance.

Introducing the meeting under the theme of Northern Housing Priorities for 2024, NHC chief executive Tracy Harrison discussed how the Monitor had established a reputation as the ‘Northern Housing Bible’. Tracy also welcomed the University of Huddersfield’s Dr Tom Simcock, who attended the meeting to present the findings of the recent Living in Fear report which details the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on those living in poor quality private rented housing. Tracy noted that while the data from the Northern Housing Monitor is key, it is also essential to hear about the lived experiences of real people, hence the importance of backing up the Monitor with the findings of the Living in Fear report.

Derek Long represented Northern Housing Monitor authors arc4 at the meeting and provided insights on the key trends and developments for housing in the north as evidenced in the Monitor. Derek noted that the Monitor is a useful resource for regional specific data to identify place-based priorities, while also being useful to present data on the root causes of the housing crisis.

Derek was followed by Dr Tom Simcock, who presented to the Group on the key findings from the Living in Fear report. APPG attendees were in agreement that the findings from Living in Fear highlighted the stark and desperate reality for some people living in the private rented sector amid the rising costs of bills and essentials. Shadow Minister Liz Twist noted the issue at a constituency level of poor quality private rented housing in the North East and the detrimental impact it can have on people’s health – as illustrated in the Living in Fear report.

Further information on the meeting can be found in the APPG Meeting Notes which can be found on the APPG’s dedicated webpage here –

Tracy Harrison with APPG Chair Ian Mearns MP