Community-led social home schemes get £38m

A £38m fund for community-led housing in London has been launched by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, intended to “enable communities to play a leading role in building new social and affordable homes.”

The number of SME builders has fallen over the last 10 years, and Khan has called for action to buck this trend. He said the new London Community Housing Fund will help address this, by allowing local residents to get directly involved in build- ing and managing new homes themselves, such as via co-operatives and community land trusts.

The new fund is expected to “unlock” 500 community-led homes by 2023, and will make grants or loans available to support building, development and deliv- ery. Some of the funding will also be allocated to provide financial help for potential costs such as submitting planning applications or design fees. Now open for bids, the fund comes alongside a new prospectus published online by City Hall, intended to provide guidance for community groups who wish to bid, and advice for Londoners who wish to form such a group. Communities looking to develop their own homes will be able to contact the London Community-Led Housing Hub for information, advice,

funding and technical support. Sadiq Khan explained some of the

reasons behind the launch: “In London we have become far too reliant on large devel- opers to build new housing. We need more homes to be built by councils and by communities themselves – and so I want to support more community-led housing projects that put London residents at the heart of the process. “We have listened to what community- led housing groups say they need, and in response this new fund offers practical support and help with development costs that have often held community-led projects back. I urge Londoners interested in developing their own homes to read our new guidance and bid for funding.”

Government overhauls Complaints Resolution Service

A new Housing Complaints Resolution Service has been announced by Communities Secretary James Brokenshire, intended to give homeowners and tenants “quick and simple access to help when things go wrong,” as well as a New Homes Ombudsman. It’s intended that the new complaints

service “will provide residents of all kinds a straight-forward way of getting help when faced with issues around their homes,” such as repairs and maintenance. In contrast to other sectors, there are currently several different housing complaints bodies, with the system branded by Brokenshire as being “complicated and bureaucratic.” The new service is set to prevent people from “battling with their landlord or builder to resolve issues on their own,” and make it easier to claim compensation. Alongside the complex system of multi-

£497m Government social housing fund announced, amid criticisms of inadequate action

The Government is set to make £497m of funding available to build 11,000 social homes across the country. Announced by Communities Secretary James Brokenshire in a speech given to the London First Building Summit, he argued that new housing in the capital will be key to reaching the Government’s housing targets, stating that there is “no question that we need to raise our game urgently.” Richard Beresford, chief executive of the National Federation of Builders (NFB), welcomed the news, while noting its shortfalls: “Despite not being new money, this decision shows the Government is listening and taking action. It’s not enough, but it’s a first step in the


right direction towards building more social and affordable homes.” The NFB has argued however that while

this a forward step, more needs to be done on planning reform. Rico Wojtulewicz, head of housing and planning policy at the House Builders Association (HBA), explained: “Brokenshire needs to seize every opportunity to build more homes, but the greatest obstacle remains the slow and expensive planning process which prevents us from getting our shovels in the ground. From Essex to Eccleston, as long as the planning system remains broken and unreformed, we will never build the 800 homes a day we so desperately need.”

ple complainant bodies, membership of redress schemes is currently compulsory for some tenures but not others. In the private rented sector, for example, there is no obligation for landlords to register with a complaints system, “leaving renters without any course for redress,” said the Ministry of Housing. In order to combat this issue, Brokenshire has announced that private landlords are to be legally required to become members of a redress scheme, with a fine of up to £5,000 if they fail to do so. To protect the interests of those purchas- ing new build homes, the Government has repeated its commitment to establishing a New Homes Ombudsman, which is intended to champion home buyers and hold developers to account. The Ministry of Housing stated that legislation will be brought forward at the “earliest possible opportunity, requiring all new developers to belong to this Ombudsman.” Developers will also have to belong to the new body by 2021 if they wish to participate in the Help to Buy scheme. Brokenshire commented on the wide-

ranging announcement: “The proposals I have announced will help ensure all residents are able to access help when they need it, so disputes can be resolved faster, and people can get compensation where it’s owed.”

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