Announcement Tracker 53 for week ending 2 May 2013

Government announcements, latest news and policy papers
26th April to 2nd May 2013
Social Housing:
Energy Efficiency
£6million renewable heat scheme for social landlords opens today
A new £6million competition aimed at getting renewable heating kit into the homes of social tenants across Great
Britain has been launched by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) today. This new competition,
part of the extended Renewable Heat Premium Payment (RHPP) scheme announced in March this year, will help
registered providers of social housing to install heat pumps, solar thermal panels and biomass boilers.
2 May
The application form for the social landlord competition can be downloaded on the EST website. The social landlord
competition will have two application windows, with a share of £3million available to bid for during each window. The
first window is aimed at social landlords who are ready to go with projects in the pipeline. The second window is aimed
at social landlords who require more support with developing their proposals and submitting applications.
More details on the RHPP scheme can be found on the RHPP pages
Social workers urged to spot links between domestic abuse and adult safeguarding
Council bosses have issued a guide to helping social workers and other professionals identify and respond to domestic
abuse in adult safeguarding cases. Adult safeguarding practitioners require a significant understanding of domestic
abuse because of the high number of cases where adults with care needs experience abuse from a partner or family
member, said the guide published today by the Local Government Association and the Association of Directors of Adult
Social Services.
Produced by Housing Policy & Commissioning 2/5/2013
2 May
Welfare reforms/
Private Rented
Right to Buy
Housing – Local
Benefits/ Financial
Welfare cash card bill axed as parliament ends
The end of the parliamentary year last week means bills that have not yet been passed will mostly be scrapped,
including Conservative MP Alec Shelbrooke’s Welfare Cash Card Bill. This would have introduced a payment card for
benefit claimants that would only allow them to spend the money on permitted items, such as food and clothing.
2 May
Other private members’ bills that have been axed include two that attempted to improve the private rented sector.
Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn had sought to bring in legislation to introduce five-year tenancies, tougher enforcement of
environmental standards, rent regulation, and a ban on ‘discrimination’ against tenants on benefits.
Liberal Democrat MP Adrian Sanders had introduced a bill to consolidate housing regulations across the social and
private rented sectors with the aim of removing ‘imbalances’ and creating a stronger framework for investment.
Labour and Co-operative MP Gareth Thomas’ housing market reform bill has also not made it into the next
parliamentary session. This would have placed restrictions on who properties bought under the right-to-buy can be sold
on to in high value areas, and required government agencies to do more to promote the benefits of co-operative
Mark Prisk tells housing sector to follow example of local associations
Housing minister Mark Prisk has called on the whole housing sector to learn from the examples set by local
associations featured in a new report from PlaceShapers. The ‘Build Local’ report claims to show how to build highquality new homes in thriving communities, despite the property market slump. In his speech to the Placeshaper’s sixth
annual conference, Prisk warned against just concentrating on bricks and mortar, claiming that the focus "has to be on
people – creating communities that bind people together …”
Universal Credit: Landlords to receive direct payments after two months of arrears
Housing benefit payments will be sent directly to landlords after tenants have gone into two months of arrears during
the Universal Credit (UC) pathfinders. The Residential Landlords’ Association welcomed the move, but are concerned
the promises of automatic direct payments do not yet extend to the national roll-out of universal credit later this year. A
DWP spokesman said: “Paying housing costs direct to claimants will allow them to take greater responsibility of their
finances and breaks a barrier that people can face when moving into work. The safeguards in the pathfinder area have
existed for private sector housing benefit claimants since 2008. We have always been clear protection will continue
under Universal Credit."
Produced by Housing Policy & Commissioning 2/5/2013
24 Dash
1 May
24 Dash
1 May
Health and
PHE welcomes changes to the UK vaccination programme
The Department of Health, Public Health England and NHS England has today announced a series of changes to the
current vaccination schedule to include three new vaccination programmes, which protect against flu, shingles and
rotavirus, as well as updating the current meningitis C vaccine schedule.
Private Rented
Rotavirus vaccination programme for children under 4 months to begin July 2013.
Shingles vaccination programme for people aged 70-79 to begin September 2013.
Pilot to vaccinate all children aged 2 against seasonal flu to begin September 2013.
RLA attacks Shelter campaign
The Residential Landlords Association’s policy director Richard Jones has responded to Shelter’s report, claiming that
the reality is that nearly all tenancies are ended by tenants. Just 9% are ended by landlords, usually as a result of
tenant rent arrears or anti-social behaviour. He went on to say “The RLA condemns the scaremongering that Shelter is
engaged in. Whilst we agree that a small minority of landlords ruin the lives of tenants and should be banned from
renting property, the reality is that the majority of landlords in the country provide a good service.
Public Health
1 May
1 May
Volatile rental market is damaging childhoods
Shelter has published a report on the impact on children in families living in private rented homes. Growing up renting
is based on research with over 4,000 private renters. It found that 1 in 5 families in England now rent privately, yet
tenancy contracts of just 6 or 12 months are the norm. The report reveals many problems created by short-term
tenancies, including:
 1 in 10 renting families have had to change their children’s school in the past five years.
 44% of renting parents say that their child would have a better childhood if they had more stability in their home.
 13% said that the move was stressful or upsetting for their children.
 1 in 8 renting families (13%) reported having to sofa surf with family and friends while between homes.
Shelter launched its campaign for Stable Rental Contracts in September 2012 which called for improvements to
tenancy contract, including 5-year tenancies and rent rises in line with inflation.
Produced by Housing Policy & Commissioning 2/5/2013
Enterprise & Growth
Greater Birmingham seeks economic breakthrough with strategy for growth
The Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) has today launched a strategy that aims to
re-establish the city region as the major driver of the UK economy outside London. Produced following a White Paper
consultation which saw more than 400 representations from businesses, local authorities, third sector organisations,
universities and colleges, the Strategy for Growth will underpin economic activity up to 2020. In this timeframe, the
GBSLEP has set targets of increasing private sector jobs by 100,000, driving up GVA by £8.25 billion and transforming
performance in skills and employment.
Benefits/ Financial
Government's Universal Credit system begins
The government's new Universal Credit (UC) system has begun to be rolled-out today, in four North West towns. The
reformed benefit programme will be introduced in four jobcentres in parts of Oldham, Ashton-under-Lyne, Wigan and
Warrington. Ashton-under-Lyne's jobcentre will be the first to accept claims for UC, whilst Wigan, Warrington and
Oldham jobcentres will trial the new claimant commitment and will take claims for UC beginning in July, informed by the
early testing in Ashton.
24 Dash
29 April
UC will ultimately affect five million tax credit customers and 3.5 million housing benefit customers. It will replace
Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income-related Employment Support Allowance, Housing
Benefit, Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit. The rest of the country will see UC rolled-out from October, with
completion due in 2017.
Housing Finance
Enterprise and
DCLG publishes New Homes Bonus: grant determination 2013 to 2014
This document shows how much New Homes Bonus grant DCLG will pay to each local authority in England in 2013 to
2014. Birmingham will receive £10,269,899.
MPs publish report on planning for economic infrastructure
In its report HM Treasury: Planning for Economic Infrastructure, the Public Accounts Committee questions the
Government’s plans for infrastructure spending. The committee was not convinced that the current proposals represent
a rigorous plan with clear priorities for action or with a clear programme for delivery. The Treasury has identified 40 key
projects and programmes. However, many of the programmes are broad categories and in total they include more than
200 individual projects, which does not suggest a properly targeted and prioritised infrastructure plan. It also urges the
Treasury to work more forcefully with departments, regulators, contractors and investors to agree the priorities for the
projects that will be undertaken and the ways in which the costs both for consumers, through bills, and taxpayers,
through various forms of support, will be identified and contained.
Produced by Housing Policy & Commissioning 2/5/2013
29 April
29 April
Health, Regulation
and Private Sector
Enterprise & Growth
Housing Market,
Development and
Health and
LGA issues unlicensed tattoo parlour health warning
Unlicensed tattoo parlours are posing a real danger to public safety, with users putting themselves at risk of contracting
Hepatitis and HIV, council leaders are warning. People are increasingly being tempted away from registered parlours
by cheap prices and cut-price deals offered by illegal operators working out of residential properties, garden sheds,
pubs and clubs or advertising home visits on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Using substandard
equipment and inadequate sterilisation, they are less likely to check the age of customers or ask about the medical
history of clients, exposing themselves to higher risks of serious skin irritations or blood borne virus like Hepatitis and
Give LEPs certainty they need to drive long-term growth, MPs tell Government
LEPs are key drivers of strong regional economic growth, says the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee in a
Report published today. The Report welcomes the Government’s commitment to providing core funding for LEPs for
the next two financial years, but argues that the timescale is too short to allow LEPs to make long-term investments. It
urges the Government to provide the certainty and security that LEPs need to drive long-term growth by setting now
the levels of their core funding for the five years from 2015.
DCLG release revised guidance on Section 106 affordable housing requirements: review and appeal
The ‘Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013’ inserts new sections 106BA, BB and BC into the ‘Town and Country Planning
Act 1990’ to introduce a new application and appeal procedure, to review affordable housing obligations on the
grounds of viability. The guidance provides information for applicants and local authorities on the purpose and scope of
this measure. Annex B sets out procedures for applications to the local planning authority (under section 106BA) and
for appeals to the Planning Inspectorate (under section 106BC).
Priorities for 2013 and 2014 published by Public Health England
The priorities encompass the Public Health England’s (PHE) broad remit, ranging from protecting and improving the
nation’s health to building the public health system and increasing its own expertise.
27 April
26 April
26 April
The priorities document will be the beginning of a conversation with PHE’s partners about how to transform the public
health system and create a genuine improvement in the public’s health.
Homeless Link survey of 500 services finds homeless sector shrank in 2012
Research published by the umbrella body Homeless Link indicates that funding cuts are having an impact on the ability
of charities to help those without a home. With the number of homeless people increasing by 10 per cent in 2012, the
annual Survey of Needs and Provision, found that nearly five out of ten projects saw their funding fall by an average of
17 per cent. With most services reliant on local authority funding, the findings indicate that the capacity of the sector to
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26 April
house and help new homeless people has fallen. In the year to November 2012,
58 accommodation projects closed and 1,811 bed spaces were lost.
full-time staff numbers have reduced by 16% since 2010.
There has also been a decrease in the number of services offering targeted support to help clients with the most
complex problems. The results indicate an increasing number of services do not feel equipped to help individuals who,
because of the multiple issues they face, require the highest level of support.
Community Safety
Enterprise & Growth:
Pride in Our Police: Police and Crime Plan published
West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Bob Jones has published his first Police and Crime Plan. The plan,
which will be considered at the first meeting of the new Strategic Policing and Crime Board, sets out the objectives and
milestones for policing in our (West Midlands) area.
The plan includes commitments to increase public confidence in policing, while sustaining the downward pattern in
recorded crime. There is a particular focus on hate crime, stop and search, safer travel and protecting the most
vulnerable members of society. The PCC will consult this year on how police procurement can better contribute to
economic well-being in our area, and announces a review of Police & Community Support Officer powers. The plan
also describes how better technology and improved working practice can support a new operating model. The theme
running through the plan is a commitment to "Pride in Our Police". As Bob says, "I want the police to reflect the strong
sense of civic identify that exists in our local authority areas and in your neighbourhoods".
26 April
Growth and Infrastructure Bill given royal assent
The government's flagship Growth and Infrastructure Bill, which includes controversial proposals to make it easier for
homeowners to build extensions to their properties without planning consent, has completed the legislative process.
The new Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013 became law yesterday, following Royal Assent. Amongst a raft of
measures aimed at kick-starting economic growth, the Act allows the modification or discharge of the affordable
housing elements of section 106 planning gain agreements in order to make developments more viable.
26 April
The Act also contains the controversial measures to extend permitted development rights to allow single-storey
extensions of up to eight metres. Earlier this week, an amendment to the legislation that requires neighbours to be
consulted on home extensions that do not require planning permission was approved by the House of Commons.
It addition, the Act introduces measures to allow developers to take planning applications to the Planning Inspectorate
where a council has "consistently failed to meet statutory requirements to consider applications on time".
The Act also removes the need for the Communities Secretary to approve local development orders (LDOs), which
relax planning rules in specific areas, after they have been drawn up by town halls. It also includes measures to speed
up the planning application process.
Produced by Housing Policy & Commissioning 2/5/2013