Research Services for a Changing Landscape

The Northern Housing Consortium fully appreciates that these are changing and challenging times for housing providers and local authorities. Many of our members have faced and continue to face the prospect of organisational restructure to meet the challenges posed. Some members have lost some skills key to providing valuable insight vital to their business and residents.

With a long-standing track record in undertaking research for our members, NHC is in an ideal position to ensure members continue to collect valuable intelligence on which to make decisions. Our Research and Intelligence service, which sits within the Policy and Public Affairs department, has expertise across a range of quantitative and qualitative methodologies and experience in shaping research commissions that provide housing market analysis, customer insight and satisfaction, community-based research and providing strategic support to key business functions.

The team provides a tailored service for members that enable them to better understand their housing markets and their residents. The tools which the team provide can assist in improving performance within member organisations as well as gaining a robust, reliable and representative knowledge of the northern housing offer and how it relates to the needs and aspirations of its residents.

Some of the team’s projects include paid research – for which members or groups of members will commission and fund – and wider strategic projects which will benefit a wider range of our northern members.

Commissioned Research projects include:

  • Tenant Satisfaction surveys, using STAR methodology to measure the satisfaction of tenants with their homes and neighbourhoods to enable landlords to identify improvements
  • District-wide housing market assessments, which enable authorities to better plan future housing provision
  • Housing Needs Surveys, which examines households living within unsuitable accommodation and assists authorities in prioritising future spending for improving homes
  • Affordable accommodation studies, highlighting the level of affordable accommodation that is required and how affordability can be measured at a local level
  • Rural housing assessments, which will be used by parish councils to gain additional funding for any affordable or specialist housing
  • Homelessness Reviews, to review homelessness services and the impact they have
  • BME and Traveller Accommodation Assessments, allowing authorities to gain a better understanding of the needs of a range of ethnic groups and recognising the cultural sensitivities surrounding these
  • Regeneration assessments and impact assessments, which allow a robust assessment of current and previous regeneration work and investment to highlight successful and unsuccessful schemes
  • Assessment of Older Person’s accommodation, which gives a better understanding of the needs of older people in terms of accommodation and support-related services
  • Housing strategies, which assist members in writing strategies and considering future priorities and how these will link together
  • Mystery Shopping exercises, testing a range of landlord services to highlight any difficulties with service delivery
  • Staff Satisfaction surveys, enable organisations to improve staff moral and assist with recruitment and retention
  • Staff salary surveys, benchmarking of salaries in the sector to monitor staff pay and assist with recruitment and retention by ensuring fair pay

For more information please contact one of the Policy and Public Affairs team on 0191 5661000 or email efficiency@northern-consortium.org.uk

 

Budget 2016

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The Northern Housing Consortium have prepared an on-the-day Budget 2016 briefing with rapid analysis of the Budget and what it means for the North.

You can find our on the day briefing here.

Additionally, you can find all documents related to the Budget 2016 here.

Estimated Number of Households for the new Benefit Cap in 2016/17

The Welfare Reform and Work Bill incorporates a number of policy changes designed to improve work incentives. One of the measures included is that from 2016/17, total household benefits payments for working-age claimants will be capped at new levels, so that workless households will no longer be entitled to receive more than £20,000 in benefits (£13,400 for single adults with no dependent children) outside of Greater London.

In February, the Government produced a report which gives an ad hoc analysis of the estimated number of households in scope for the benefit cap in 2016/17 by Local Authority once the new cap levels have been rolled out.

You can read the categories of the estimated average number of households, in the absence of behavioural response to the cap, in detail in a set of tables here.

Health and Housing Briefings – Get Involved

The NHC is about to start work on a series of briefings looking at how housing associations and local authorities are working together with the health and care sectors to provide proactive and reactive support services.

The opportunity exists for housing providers to show they can be key partners of health and care services, and demonstrate housing’s central role in achieving better outcomes for tenants, patients and the wider public.

Whether it’s fast tracking adaptations for those in hospital to get people home quicker or working with community groups and charities to provide services to older people or those in need of care, we’d love to hear from you if you have any innovative ways of working you’d like to share. Please contact Callum Smith, Policy and Public Services Officer at callum.smith@northern-consortium.org.uk

UC Implementation Impact Research Update

Universal Credit poses challenges to both social housing landlords and individual claimants. We announced in a previous news post that NHC will undertake a longitudinal research project to collect intelligence on the on-going issues during roll out of Universal Credit. The research includes a survey to member organisations as well as focus group sessions to collect more quality information and case studies with tenants to focus on the effects the changes will have on the welfare system.

Having consulted with our sounding board members, Phase 1 of the research – the self-completion survey – is ready to start. Members are invited to participate in this research, which will be in four quarterly surveys. You can access the survey here.

The findings of the study will be produced in a number of reports and the NHC will run UC events/workshops and seminars as part of our wide events and training service.

If you would like your organisation to participate in this research please contact Barry Turnbull, Policy Services Officer on 0191 566 1030 or at barry.turnbull@northern-consortium.org.uk

Tackling the skills gap – Call for Evidence from NHC members

Unemployment rates are generally on the decline, however in our buoyant labour market, skills shortage vacancies present a growing challenge for employers, local economies and communities. According to the Employer Skills Survey 2015, 6% of all employers have at least one skill shortage. This is a significant increase from 4% back in 2013.

Tackling the skills gap is one of the key priorities for getting more people into work and to help cities attract businesses and jobs. This is a major focus of the devolution deals, with the majority highlighting Employment & Skills as a priority.

The skills system is, therefore, an interesting tool to help identify what central government and local areas need to work together effectively in the devolution deals process. This will in turn achieve a clearer, consistent and localised approach.

Outlook 2016, published by the Centre for Cities last month, argues that “in order for the Chancellor to achieve his objective of a ‘higher wage, low-welfare’ economy in Britain, as set out in the Summer Budget 2015, he will need to vary his approach across the country. To deal with increases in welfare spending in recent years the focus will need to be on addressing housing shortages in high-wage areas. Meanwhile in low-wage areas, to tackle both low-pay and high-welfare, the focus needs to be on boosting jobs and skills.”

Improving employability will lead to more growth and less spending on welfare, devolving employment and skills to local areas is important in tackling some of the challenges faced by groups and working with local employers to ensure the right skills are in place. The appetite for greater devolution from cities and local areas reflects their understanding of the importance of local flexibility in meeting these needs.

As part of the NHC’s wider work programme around employment & skills, the first stage of which includes gathering evidence and intelligence from members, we would like to hear from members on the approaches your organsiations and your local partners are adopting or planning to tackle the skills gap including:

  • Partners around the table
  • Engagement with employers and education sector
  • What key skills are required by local employers?
  • What approaches are you and your partners adopting to fill the skills gap and raise skill levels now and in the future?
  • What evaluation processes are in place or carried out to date?

The NHC is aware of some of the pilots and great work underway across the North to tackle the skills gap, and will be engaging with the pilots.

If you would like to find out more or submit any information on the above, please contact satty.rai@northern-consortium.org.uk

Housing and Planning Bill Briefing

The Housing and Planning Bill underwent its second reading on Monday 2 November 2015. The NHC have prepared a briefing of the debate for members focusing on issues we know to be of interest to our members.

We will continue to monitor the progress of the Bill and provide regular updates on its progress.

You can read the second reading briefing here.