Useful Stuff

This page contains a selection of public domain documents, material I have written, and links to other websites on various Housing Themes. Intention is that it can be a first point of call to collect useful, slightly geeky, information that is “Out there” but not always easy to find.

Themes covered below are:

  • Reform of Council Housing Finance
  • The bidding process and rules for Social Housing Grant
  • Rent Setting (For Councils and Housing Associations)
  • Private Registered Providers (Housing Associations that are allowed to make and distribute profits)

Click on Red Links to download documents

Reform of Council Housing Finance
At present a large number of Councils who still own Council Houses pay money from their tenants rents each year to the Government, while the Government subsidises the Council Housing of other Councils. From April 2012 this will all change, with Councils being able to keep all the rent paid by their tenants. So that the system “works” for all Councils Government is rearranging the amount of Housing Debt each Council has. Some Councils will take on a lot more debt, others will have a lot of debt removed. In theory every Council will be considerably better off than under the current system. The downloads opposite include a presentation I made to ARCH Tenants Conference on the proposed reform, and some of the consultation and guidance papers published by Government. Also the calculated allowances for each Council for 2011-12 – the last year of the “old” system.
Presentation on HRA Reform
The Original Consultation Paper (2009)
Council Housing: A Real Future – Prospectus (CLG 2010)
Implementing Self-Financing for Council Housing (CLG 2011)
Housing Allowances etc for Councils 2011-12 (excel-spreadsheet)
Bidding for Social Housing Grant
The Government has held a single bidding round for Social Housing Grant to cover the period 2011-15. Full details are held on the Homes and Communities Agency website, but if you wish to sample the key guidance documents they can be downloaded from the links opposite.A key element of the bidding round was that Housing Associations bidding for funds were expected to charge rents at up to 80% of private sector market rents, and to re-let some of their existing homes at 80% rents to provide additional cross-subsidy. In terms of delivering more new homes for the amount of Government money available this process works well in parts of the Country (London, SE, SW) but less well in much of the North and Midlands. For unemployed new tenants there will be problems in high rent areas due to the total benefit cap of £26,000 per household (this includeschild benefit payments)
Design and Quality Standards for new Social Housing (2007)Affordable Homes Framework (HCA 2011) 

Bid Guidance

The Bid Form (excel spreadsheet)

Rent Setting
In the 1990s Council’s and Housing Associations were relatively free to set rents for new tenants as they wished. This resulted in a wide vriation in rents for very similar homes between different Councils and Housing Associations. From 2001 both Councils and Housing Associations had to follow Government guidance on rent leels, with the intention that by around 2012 almost all homes would be at a “target” or “conversion” rent. The process has been relatively smooth for Housing Associations (though many have used the fine print in the guidance to increase rents more than the Government intended).
For Councils there has been some Government meddling. The level at which target rents are calculated has been increased (to match Housing Asociation levels), service charges have been “depooled”, and are now often included on top of the “target” rent, but the rate at which rents increase has been slowed down, so that many rents will not reach target levels until around 2015.The downloads opposite include a training session I have used for National Housing Federation Board Members on rent setting, the original Government gudance and implementation papers, and updating “circulars”.From 2012 the Government has introduced the concept of “Affordable” rents which are set at 80% of open market rents for new HA and Council homes, and for some new tenants in existing homes.Some tenants of private landlords and Housing Associations who moved in before 1980 have secure tenancies whose rents are set by the Rent Officer Service. Private landlords are able to set their rents for new tenants at the level they judge will give the best return (so setting market rents). Housing Associations can also do this (if the wish) on properties which have not received any Government subsidy.
Presentation on rent settingOriginal Green Paper (2000) 

Guide to Social rent Reform 2001

Parliamentary Briefing on Rent Reform for Social Housing (House of Commons Library 2010)

Original Guide to Rent Reform in Council Sector

Rent Setting Guidance Circular for HAs for 2005/6

Rent Setting Guidance for HAs for 20011/12

Private Registered Providers – A New Breed of Housing Association
From April 2010 it has been possible to register a company as a “Private Registered Provider” – in simple terms a Housing Association, regulated by the Tenant Services Authority, but one which is allowed to make a distribute profits to its owners.The idea of a large housing association floating on the stock exchange with shareholders is alien to most in the Housing Association movement.However it is also possible to use the new provision to access potentially huge sums of investment to provide new homes, and on fair and competitive terms. Since the Credit Crunch it has been much harder – and more expensive – for Housing Associations to borrow money to build new homes. Private Registered providers however can be set up in a way which would allow them to raise money in ethical ways, such as the PIBS (Permanent Interest Bearing Shares) used by mutual Building Societies, or via (non-voting) Preference Shares. Both of these pay an annual dividend (equivalent to interest), but are not counted as debt in the balance sheet, and do not (usually) have to be repaid. If the Housing Association is short of money the risk is taken by the PIBS or Preference Share holders (And not the tenants or ordinary mortgage lenders). Potentially – if done right – the Private Register Provider model could access almost unlimited new finance for Social Housing. (This would probably be good for pension funds and savers with ISAs, as PIBS and Preferene Shares can provide a good, long term and easonably secure income).The downloads opposite include the official guidance for setting up a new Private Registered Provider, and the relevant forms (its a two stage process). NB These ae likely to be updated over time so if you are looking to do this “for real”, check with the TSA and HCA websites. [I would also be able to help with the Business Planning and Regularary side of this process for ethical applicants].
Guidance on Applying for Registration (TSA 2010)Preliminary Registration Application Form 

Final Registration Application Form