Mandatory qualifications for social housing managers

Mandatory qualifications for social housing managers

New rules form part of Bill to protect residents and raise standards in the sector

Social housing managers will now be required to hold an appropriate level housing management qualification to work in the sector.

The professional qualification will be regulated by Ofqual equivalent to a Level 4 or 5 Certificate or Diploma in Housing, or a foundation degree from the Chartered Institute of Housing.

Speaking about the new clause during the third reading of the Social Housing (Regulation) Bill in the House of Commons, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Levelling Up) Dehenna Davison said: “Relevant staff who are not already qualified will have to enrol on and complete the appropriate qualification within a specified timescale, which will be set following consultation.”

The new rules, which will affect around 25,000 managers across the sector, will bring social housing more closely into line with other sectors providing front line services, including social work, teaching, and health and care services. 

Any landlord who fails to meet the requirements of the new standards could receive an unlimited fine from the regulator.

Gavin Smart, CEO at Chartered Institute of Housing, said: “We welcome the government’s focus on and support for professionalism in housing. 

“We believe housing professionals should do all they can to ensure that tenants and residents have access to good quality, affordable homes; that they are treated with dignity and respect; and that their voices and views are heard and taken account of in decisions that affect them, their homes and the communities they live in and that the vast majority of housing professionals and organisations share this belief.

“We look forward to working with government to support organisations and individuals in achieving the qualifications needed under these new requirements.” 

The changes will be made through amendments to the Social Housing (Regulation) Bill which will drive up standards in the sector and hold landlords to account over the service they provide to their tenants. 

The Bill will also give the Regulator tougher new powers – allowing them to enter properties with only 48 hours’ notice and make emergency repairs with landlords footing the bill.

It follows Awaab’s Law, introduced earlier this year in the wake of the tragic death of two-year-old Awaab Ishak, which will force social landlords to fix damp and mould within strict time limits.

Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Michael Gove said: “The Grenfell Tower tragedy and, more recently, the death of Awaab Ishak showed the devastating consequences of residents inexcusably being let down by poor performing landlords who consistently failed to listen to them.

“We know that many social housing residents are not receiving the service or respect they deserve.

“The changes we are delivering will make sure social housing managers across the country have the right skills and experience to deliver an excellent service and drive up standards across the board.”

Markets and marquees here to stay

Markets and marquees here to stay

The measures introduced earlier in the Covid-19 pandemic to allow high streets and businesses to hold outdoor markets or put up marquees in pub and restaurant gardens have now been made permanent.

Following a public consultation local hospitality businesses no longer need planning permission to put up a covered area on their land and councils will no longer need planning permission to hold an outdoor market.

It’s hoped the continuation of this originally temporary plan will boost local businesses and high streets as they can continue to offer an alternative to their inside settings.

The changes to permitted development rights, first introduced last year as a temporary measure to boost high streets and small businesses during national restrictions, were announced by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

Pubs, cafes and restaurants will now be able to install gazebos on their own land without planning permission, helping them to better make use of their outside space all year round. Councils will also be able to hold street markets as required without the need for a planning application, attracting more people to high streets and town centres and boosting local businesses.

Housing Minister Rt Hon Christopher Pincher MP said: “The changes we introduced last year supported our town centres and high streets during national restrictions, making sure businesses could stay open and helping to instil a sense of community in our local areas.

“Making these measures permanent will help business and communities to build back better from the pandemic and are just one part of our vision to transform towns and cities across England into thriving places to work, visit and live.

Craig Beaumont, chief of external affairs at the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “[The] announcement is a positive, sensible deregulatory measure. It permanently removes barriers for small businesses to do things that we all love in our local areas, and so small firms will be pleased to see this.

“As we look to keep going through the Omicron wave, this will be something that supports the Spring economic recovery, giving a boost to firms on the high street, in retail, in pubs and restaurants, in markets, in small-scale events and in the weddings industry that have all been affected so deeply by COVID.”

Kate Nicholls, CEO of UKHospitality, said: “Marquees and other structures provided a lifeline for some businesses during the pandemic, evidencing the value of covered outdoor spaces to hospitality venues.

[The] announcement is a really positive move to rid businesses of an administrative burden and encouraging better use of outdoor space – for many venues it will expedite future recovery and growth.”

Historic visitor attractions and hospitality businesses operating in listed buildings will be able to install a gazebo for 120 days in a 12-month period. This will provide additional flexibility while minimising the impacts to heritage sites.

Come back! The most-missed High Street stores revealed

Come back! The most-missed High Street stores revealed

Sometimes it’s not until something disappears that you realise how much you liked it, or even, relied on it. And a new study has revealed just that by compiling a list of the High Street stores that we pine for the most since they shut their doors.

Raisin UK analysed the search volume and social media engagement with some of our favourite High Street brands to find out which ones we really do miss – and who we miss the most.

Taking the top spot with 57% of people reacting sadly to the news of the brand’s collapse, is Debenhams, which closed earlier in 2021.

It was announced in December 2020 that the giant of the High Street was set to close after last-ditch efforts to rescue the troubled store chain failed, after ending up in administration for the second time in a year.

Debenhams sold a range of goods from clothing to household items and furniture. There is some good news for Debenhams fans however. Online giant, Boohoo, has snapped up their online operations to bring Debenhams back online. Debenhams has also started rehiring to open a flagship store in an attempt to bring Debenhams back to the British High Street!

So, what else do we miss?

Woolworths is another long-lost love. In 2009, the chain’s final 199 shopfronts in market towns across the UK closed for good.

Woolworths – or Woolies, as it was fondly called – was the go-to place for just about everything you needed, from its famous pick ’n’ mix and racks of CDs to household appliances and kids’ clothes, it was a real High Street heavy-lifter.

Rumours of its return in 2020 saw a spike in people searching for Woolworths on Google and Twitter, but sadly the rumour turned out to be a hoax. However with 44% of people talking about the topic on social media saying that they loved the news about the return of the brand, it proves Woolworths still holds a special place in many a heart.

Another big loss to the High Street came in 2016 when BHS – or British Home Stores – closed.

The news was not met well with 51% of people reacting angrily to the collapse of the brand, which was part of the Arcadia Group. All BHS stores closed by late August 2016 with the rest of the Arcadia Group suffering the same fate in 2021, leading to the loss of Topshop, Burton and more. These brands were later moved online and bought by ASOS and Boohoo, while the BHS brand was later bought and now operates online selling ceiling lighting.

2020 saw another High Street stalwart leaving us missing their presence as Mothercare closed.

The must-go for parents across the UK, Mothercare’s closure unsurprisingly saw 55% of people reacting sadly to the brand’s collapse announcement on social media.

The company, which opened its first store in 1961, had frequently struggled to compete with cheaper supermarket clothing ranges and the rise of online shopping.

Mothercare has since completed a franchise deal with Boots, meaning the pharmacy chain can now sell Mothercare-branded products within Boots stores, allowing the brand to return to the high street.

Rounding out the Top 5 is a store that invokes a lot of nostalgia – Blockbuster.

The TV, film and game rental store collapsed into administration back in 2013 leading to the closure of 528 stores. Like several other brands, including Jessops, HMV and Comet, Blockbuster was massively affected by online competition.

Despite the nostalgia and remaining love for the store – there are 3.6k searches every month for the brand – a return to the glory days of Blockbuster is highly unlikely. The nature of how we now consume TV and film has changed radically with online streaming services our new go-tos.

Affordable housing supply slows

Affordable housing supply slows

The 2020-21 year saw a decrease in completions and starts of affordable homes in England compared to the previous years.

A statistical report for the Department for Levelling up, Housing and Communities by National Statistics examined the affordable housing supply between April 2020 and March 2021.

And it found there were 52,100 affordable homes delivered (completions) and 57,417 starts on site in England during that period, with decreases of 12 per cent and 16 per cent respectively when compared to the previous year (2019-20).

At the same time, affordable housing for rent (including social, affordable and intermediate rent) represented around two thirds of completions (65%) and three out of five starts (59%), similar to the previous year.

This decrease may be due, in large part, to the restrictions introduced during March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

These proportions compare to around three quarters of both completions and starts in 2015-16 (77% and 75%, respectively).

London was the region with the highest delivery of new affordable housing, followed by the south east.

While this is consistent with historical data, it is a change from the previous three years, as between 2017-18 and 2019-20 delivery was higher in the south east. Together, these two regions have driven the trend in affordable housing completions.

However, there is a more complex picture as London had the highest delivery of social rent in most years between 1991-92 and 2017-18. In 2020-21, it was the one of the regions with fewer new social rent units (376 units out of a national total of 5,955).

On affordable rent, both the south east and the east of England have delivered more homes than London since 2016-17 and 2017-18, respectively. In 2016-17 and 2017-18, the north west also delivered more affordable homes than London.

Looking back, the number of affordable homes delivered across the country has varied considerably since the start of the decade in 2011-12.

The supply of affordable housing is largely dependent on funding programmes, and as part of a house building cycle, delivery is normally lower in the first years of any new programme.

So the nation’s peak in 2014-15 is explained by the end of the 2011-15 affordable homes programme and the increase in the number of completions since 2015-16 reflects the transition to the 2016-23 affordable homes programme.

But unlike during the 2011-15 programme, every year between 2015 and 2020 saw an increase in the delivery of affordable homes, while the decrease in 2020-21 may be due to the aforementioned pandemic restrictions.

The statistics estimate to include new build and affordable housing providers’ acquisitions of private housing.

But losses through demolitions, sales to tenants and other sales are not included so the statistics here show only new additions to the affordable housing stock.

It’s also worth noting that responsibility for affordable housing in London transferred to the Mayor of London from April 2012.

This means that Homes England (previously the Homes and Communities Agency) no longer administer or report on most affordable housing delivery in London, which is now the responsibility of the Greater London Authority (GLA).

The full report can be read here.

Legacy table shows 5% rise in legacy consideration in past year

Legacy table shows 5% rise in legacy consideration in past year

The latest Legacy Potential Premier League table has been released, ranking charities on their supporters’ likelihood to leave a gift in their will to them.

The research shows that, 18 months on from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are the beginnings of a return to normality in the legacy marketplace.

During the period between Autumn 2020 and 2021, there’s been a 5% rise in legacy consideration for charities, proving that legacy fundraising is still full of potential for the sector.

But what does legacy consideration mean?

Basically, it identifies what proportion of a charity’s supporters are willing to consider leaving them something from their will. Legacy consideration pinpoints how open supporters are – it’s then down to legacy fundraising teams to inspire those supporters to commit.

In the study, conducted by online market research agency Fastmap, around 5000 charity supporters aged 50+ were interviewed, answering questions related to legacy giving. The annual data from this research allows charity performance trends to be tracked.

Comparing the last three years of data provided by the league table, similarities continue at the top, with the animal sector taking a dominant eight of the top ten spots.

However, there has been some movement at the top with former “nation’s favourite” Dog’s Trust dropping to fourth place, being replaced at number one by Battersea Dogs & Cats Home. The Donkey Sanctuary and Cats Protection are currently in second and third, respectively.

These top four have maintained their pull away from close competitors, which was first seen last year.

However, the gap between one and 30 in the table has narrowed, moving back to the sort of levels seen pre-pandemic, indicating that legacy consideration is improving among a wide range of charities.

Whilst the top ten is dominated by animal charities, there are two charities from outside the sector that made it into the top ten: Prostate Cancer UK (moving from 10th to 5th) and Alzheimer’s Research UK (from 11th to 7th).

Other notable shifts are Cancer Research (8th to 12th), while RNIB and Teenage Cancer Trust are new entrants, causing some of the bigger players such as Salvation Army and St John’s Ambulance to drop out of the top 30.