Housing Conference today – Right Home, Right Place, Right Time

Have been in Cambridge for part of the day at a really interesting conference with Social Housing Sector hosted by the Chartered Housing Institute (CHI) and the National Housing Federation (NHF) packed full of Housing officers from local authorities both Suffolk Coastal and Mid Suffolk were there from my part of the world and lots of people who worked for Registered Social Landlords.

Principally the day was to launch the report commissioned by the NHF Right Home, Right Place, Right Time, Research on under-occupation in the East of England’s Social Housing sector. The report makes for very interesting reading and my particular interest was on Page 18 where it talks about ‘Housing an ageing population’ and uses as an example an Extra Care Scheme or very sheltered housing if you insist, Judith, in Ixworth that I have had the pleasure of visiting.

Once launched we then moved on to issues about housing stock and best use, how RSL’s score the right to move amongst their residents but from my point of view I was really interested in the speakers on older people housing and how to get people to transfer into extra care and sheltered housing to release larger properties in the social sector.

Clearly in this sector you can see pararels with the private housing market and the market forces that get people to down size or make that all important move, One of thing I tried to contribute is that for the social housing sector to discuss housing without taking into account the private sector was truly like having ‘the elephant in the room’; not only in terms of the fact that the net contribution to  housing stock of the country from the social sector is tiny in comparison with the private sector, they are increasingly worried that the Comprehensive Spending review on 20th October will announce that there is no public monies to fund social housing and accordingly my point was even more relevent in the way in which the social sector, Local Authorities, both strategic such as Suffolk County Council and the local District and Borough Councils with their planning powers along with Health must work together to deliver models of Extra Care that make money for the private companies who invest in them, deliver social housing with rental streams secured and certainty for those who provide the care element.

One of the points I raised was around local planning authorities and their recognition of their duty of care in respect of planning for an Aging population and the need for core strategies to be in place in their LDF; I suggested that only Chelmsford Borough Council has a strategy document in its LDF and it was pointed out that so did Cambridge City Council, a copy of which I shall search and read. A couple of people commented in the room that this is shocking and indeed it is!

Whilst there was lots of really good energy in the room, over coffee and in the workshop session I spoke with a number of people who said how frustrating the lack of joined up thinking really is.

On the one hand studio and 1 bedroom sheltered accommodation has an increasing void rate as older people do not want such accommodation as either they are still together and want 2 bedrooms or they want the ability for a carer or a family member to visit or stay; and on the other hand both in terms of Registered Social Landlords point score single older people out of having the extra bedroom not to mention the rumblings from Westminster that Housing Benefit will be restricted so that social tenants cannot have an extra bedroom.

When you think about the thinking around Extra Care Housing and the need to be building 2 bedrooms units both from a care point of view and  potential open market selling prospective, clearly we have a long way to go before we have joined up thinking, but hey that’s what we are here for!

About askcolinnoble
I'm a Conservative politician-lite, I dabble a bit in Party Politics with my main focus of working hard and being a strong voice for my community making sure local government delivers quality services and fellow residents get value for money for their hard earned money they pay in Council tax | Where this Gravatar appears and I am expressing my views or liking something I do so in a personal capacity and does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of Suffolk County Council, Forest Heath District Council, the Conservative Party or come to think of it anyone else | But having said the above at an election time and to stay legal anything I write is promoted by Lance Stanbury on behalf of Colin Noble, both at West Suffolk Conservative Association, Unit 8, Swan Lane Business Park, Exning, Newmarket, Suffolk CB8 7FN

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