The NHC as a membership body, facilitates three regional Policy Networks across the North East, North West and Yorkshire & Humberside. The North East Policy Network has been up and running for many years, and recently has grown and attracted interest from even more members across the north east. The Yorkshire & Humber and North West Policy Networks are very new, and have met once to date with a second meeting for each scheduled in the next coming months.
The Policy Networks provide NHC members the opportunity to come together on a quarterly basis, at different member venues in each region to network and discuss policy developments and what they mean for each region, challenges and approaches to mitigate their impact on business, tenants and communities, and good practice.
Across the three networks there were shared concerns which included:
Universal Credit (UC)
- Huge concerns and challenges around inconsistency of messages from DWP/JCP
- Organisations need to increase staff time and resources to manage the small number of current cases and time spent on each one. This will not be sustainable going forward as UC is fully implemented.
- Concerns around the Full Digital Service and how this will be managed by each local JCP office. What about those who can’t access the service for various reasons? What support will be in place for them? Will this delay their claim/payment?
- Relationship with local DWP Partnership Managers largely positive. However there are issues with the Service Centres – are the messages being communicated to the relevant colleagues there?
- Members are currently carrying out various impact analyses and modeling different scenarios.
- Seen as a high business risk across the sector – high rise stock and supported housing poses the greatest risk to businesses.
- Ways to mitigate the impact of the LHA cap include reviewing allocations and tenancy policies. What do these look like? The introduction of affordability checks and refusing tenants who are unable to afford it will cause problems.
- The general view is that no-one really understands what the effect of the change will be and that the impact probably won’t be known until it actually happens. Often, tenants will only deal with financial changes when they actually hit, as was the case with the under occupation charge.
1% Rent Reduction
- Has had a huge impact on businesses. Many organsiations are experiencing staff cuts and restructures.
- Many members are carrying out reviews of non-core and core services, looking at costs and benefits.
- Developments are being stalled until a full review of business plans is carried out
- Identifying tenants who will be impacted is a difficult process as the sector does not collect information on tenant income.
- Some members are contacting those that were affected by the £26,000 cap and informing them of the up-to-date changes.
- Some members are visiting households potentially impacted.
This is a summary of some of the discussions that have taken place to date across the networks, for further information on the regional policy networks, please visit http://www.northern-consortium.org.uk/services/policy/working-groups/