Social housing need under scrutiny in Shelter report

The message that not enough social housing is being built has been reinforced by a recent report from Shelter. Titled ‘A vision for social housing,’ the report brings together 16 commissioners from across the political spectrum to analyse the state of social housing across the country.

The National Federation of Builders (NFB) has reported that it welcomes the details of the report, and has expressed its support for many of the recommendations; in particular the need to build many more social homes and replace those lost to right to buy.

According to the NFB, a “responsible” Government must act to reduce the burden on the tax payer, while increasing the number of social homes available. It believes that positive steps have been taken through the decision to lift the borrowing cap that local authorities face when financing social housing, but points out that not all councils can access increased borrowing unless they already own 200 social homes.

The company did however note that the report does not acknowledge the role of local plans in stimulating social housing, as local authorities can work “hand in glove” with providers to assure them of develop- ment opportunities during the site allocation phase. Richard Beresford, chief executive of the

NFB, commented: “Industry, popular opinion and economists continue to tell the Government that they must build more social homes. It’s time they listened and became the first Government in twenty years to meet very clear expectations.”

Homes England announces more board appointments

A new member has been appointed to the Homes England board. Keri Smith, who has been the director of UK Government Investments since


its creation in April 2016, will be the organisation’s shareholder representative member.

Homes England Chairman Sir Edward Lister commented on the appointment: “Ceri is joining the Homes England Board at an exciting time, as we expand as an organisation to change the housing market and deliver the Government’s ambition of building 300,000 new homes each year. “His wealth of experience working with business and government means he will be able to make a valuable contribution to the agency as we tackle the housing challenges facing the country.”

Homes England will be continuing recruitment for further board members in 2019.

MP criticises national skills policy

apprentices are trained and retained by SMEs. And yet, the Federation reports, they only build 33 per cent of all homes. Cummins explained how SMEs

identified a major barrier to development in the complexity of the current levy system, but the NFB is reportedly surprised that issues such as late payment and a complex procurement process did not emerge as the greatest obstacles to growth for SMEs in construction, as they directly affect their ability to hire new apprentices and invest in existing staff. Nick Sangwin, incoming NFB national

chair, regional chair for the north east and managing director for the Sangwin Group, explained further: “We need to re-look at the procurement process to involve successful regional contractors and SMEs more on frameworks. “These are the companies that retain

and train the workforce, but they need a steady pipeline of work to do this. They also pay their subcontractors and supply chain quicker.”

The need for an overhaul of the country’s skills policy has been highlighted by the MP for Bradford South, Judith Cummins. Her constituency is one of the top 40 that is reported to be likely to be affected by automation in the coming years. Cummins identified that 15 per cent of

her constituents have no qualifications compared to the UK average of 8 per cent, while only 14 per cent are qualified to degree level or above, compared to 31 per cent nationally. Despite backing changes to the appren-

ticeship levy, she criticised the use of unused levy funds and a lack of “strong industrial sector voices” to help drive collective action from employers. The National Federation of Builders

(NFB) has stated that it agrees that the skills policy needs to be significantly changed, particularly in places like Bradford. However, it has warned that the conversation on the subject seems to ignore the process by which a skilled workforce is both trained and employed. In construction, where the NFB says

automation is being “championed by all politicians as a panacea for the housing crisis and skill shortage,” 66 per cent of

Legal & General subsidiary granted RP status

A subsidiary of Legal & General has been granted Registered Provider (RP) status. The subsidiary, Legal & General Affordable Homes Limited, was launched in April 2018.

According to the company, registration by the Regulator of Social Housing represents a ‘significant milestone’ in Legal & General Affordable Homes’ business plan, allowing it to hold and manage regulated affordable housing assets. The registration also means the

subsidiary can now significantly accelerate its business plan of developing, holding, and managing affordable housing tenures where the regulated status is required. These include homes for social and afford- able rent, shared ownership, grant- supported, and Section 106 schemes.

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