NHC submits Autumn Statement representation to HM Treasury 

On the 13th October, the NHC submitted its Autumn Statement representation to HM Treasury, laying out our relevant key asks to support the North’s housing sector.  

On 22nd November, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt will make what may be his final Autumn Statement before the next general election. As a result, much of the media focus is on whether the Chancellor will announce any new tax cuts or spending to win over prospective voters.  

The NHC’s representation focuses on:  

  1. Alleviating private rental sector affordability pressures by restoring the Local Housing Allowance so it once again covers the 30th percentile of local rents  
  2.  Providing funding certainty for housing providers so they can effectively plan energy efficiency improvements, through releasing the remaining unallocated funds from the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund and making a long-term funding commitment for housing retrofit  
  3.  Ensuring that local authorities have the capacity in their housing teams to effectively monitor and enforce compliance with the Decent Homes Standard, especially as it is applied to the Private Rental Sector for the first time  


Increasing affordability for those on low incomes renting in the private rental sector  

Since 2019/20, rents in the private rental sector have increased by 15% in Yorkshire & Humber, 12% in the North West and 10% in the North East, while Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates have been frozen since 2020.  

The result of this is that for those on low incomes, private renting is becoming increasingly unaffordable. We now find ourselves in a situation where only 7% of two-bedroomed properties let in the North of England are affordable for people reliant on the LHA. In the North West, this figure is even lower at 4.9%.  

This is leading to increased private sector evictions, and ever-greater pressure on local authorities, who are seeing more households requesting homelessness support and are having to spend record amounts of money on expensive temporary accommodation.  

We believe the government can play a significant role in alleviating these affordability pressures for private tenants on low incomes, by restoring Local Housing Allowance so it once again covers the 30th percentile of local rents, and re-link the LHA to the real cost of renting a home for future years. 


Funds for Decarbonising Social Housing  

In 2020, the government announced the £3.8bn Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund, to support housing providers to make energy efficiency improvements to their homes. So far, around £1.1 billion of funds have been made available to housing providers in four waves (including the most recent £80m for Wave 2.2). 

More needs to be done, however, to accelerate the decarbonisation of our housing stock. There are currently around 3.6 million homes across the North in need of retrofit. The competitive, short-term nature of existing funding streams means that housing providers cannot effectively plan their long-term investments in housing retrofit as efficiently and effectively as they could if there were a clearer idea of what government funding support will be available over the long-term. This means that our energy efficiency drive is slower than it could be, and that supply chains cannot effectively scale up to meet predictable, increasing demand. 

Further clarity for the sector could be provided at the Autumn Statement, if government were to release the money that remains unallocated from the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund (SHDF), or by laying out how subsequent SHDF waves will allocate any remaining funds, allowing housing providers to plan their investments with confidence of continued government support.  

Beyond this, a long-term energy efficiency funding commitment of £6bn per year across all housing tenures would provide the certainty required for housing providers and supply chains to scale up plans and operations in housing retrofit.  


Decent Homes Enforcement 

As part of the government’s ongoing work to improve housing quality in the Private Rental Sector (PRS), the Decent Homes Standard (DHS) will, at some future point, be applied to the PRS for the first time.  

While the introductory of a minimum standard is welcome, if the DHS is to be successfully applied, this will be a significant increase in the workload of local authority housing teams as they assess homes, and where necessary take enforcement action, against the Standard.  

Recent data from the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities showed that the most common local authority enforcement team size is between two and five Full Time Equivalent (FTE) staff – with 26 local authorities currently having between zero and one FTE staff working on housing enforcement.  

It is critical that funds are made available to local authorities, so that they have the capacity and expertise within their workforces to meet the increased demands of effectively assessing and enforcing the Decent Homes Standard in the private rental sector.   


The NHC’s representation can be found, in full, here. A comprehensive summary of the Autumn Statement and any housing-related announcements will be available to NHC members shortly after the Statement on 22nd November.