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Social housing developments: July 2013

Anti-social behaviour

The Anti-Social Behaviour Crime & Policing Bill continues its route through Parliament, its next stop being the Report stage in the House of Commons before a Third Reading and transfer to the House of Lords. Read the current Bill as amended in Committee.

One area of concern with the Bill is its restriction to social housing tenants, private registered providers losing the power to act against nuisance neighbours in the private sector. Read Inside Housing's article concerning the amendment to the new ASB bill.

The sixth annual report of findings from ASB benchmarking covers the financial year 2012/13, with cost data from 2011/12. The main findings are:

  • Social landlords tackle 300,000 ASB cases per year
  • Managing ASB costs social landlords £325m a year
  • Noise is social tenants' biggest ASB complaint - 1/3 of all cases
  • Letters resolve 1 in 5 ASB cases
  • Social landlords halt ASB in 9 out of 10 cases
  • Social landlords employ up 5,000 FTE staff to tackle ASB

On 24 June 2013 the Government announced that its "Troubled Families programme" would receive an extra £200 million in 2015/2016 in order to extend intensive help to 400,000 high risk families to get to grips with their problems before they spiral out of control. Read the announcement on GOV.UK.

The "community trigger" – requiring the authority/landlord to consider a case where there has been a report of the same anti-social behaviour three times – has started to be extended beyond the pilot schemes. Inside Housing have featured an article outlining this.

Rents

In June the government announced the new formula which dictates social housing rent increases. Whilst this received a cautious welcome from many private registered providers, a less popular move was the the more recent news that rent convergence - which allows social landlords to increase rents by an extra £2 to slowly align properties with their target rents and help ensure similar properties charge a similar level of rent - may be stopped after 2015.

Welfare Reform

July 2013 saw the production of a paper presenting the early findings (October 2012 to March 2013) from the Local Authority Led Universal Credit Pilots analysis based on information prepared by each pilot authority. (See Appendix B for a full list of participating authorities.). The report highlighted limited access by claimants to the internet, problems with debt and rent arrears and a lack of shared data among partners as being some of the major problems highlighted by the 13 pilot areas of Great Britain. Read the report.

The gradual “roll-out” of Universal Credit was extended on 1 July 2013.

The "benefit cap" has from 15 July 2013 been extended with a view to a complete coverage of the country over a 12-week period. Read Inside Housing's article outlining this.

As for the bedroom tax, a 100 days report: “Should I stay or should I go” – has been prepared by Aragon Housing Association and perhaps unsurprisingly shows an increase in rent arrears, a lack of smaller properties and problems letting 3 bedroom properties as the demand for 1 and 2 bedroom properties has increased.

Fraud

The commencement date for the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013 – which received royal assent on 31 January 2013 – is still awaited. Dean Underwood and Leon Glenister wrote for the “Solicitors Jornal” on this topic in April. Read Dean and Leon's article.

New build

On 25 July 2013 the Department for Communities and Local Government announced that 69 housing associations and developers are to receive a share of £220m of funding from the government (part of the £450 million Affordable Housing Guarantees) to help them deliver almost 14,000 new affordable homes outside London. Read the announcement.

Procurement

The Public Administration Select Committee has just produced a report on Government Procurement.

Stock transfer

The Department for Communities and Local Government is consulting primarily with Local Authorities about a revised stock transfer manual.