Being a CIH board member

If you’ve read the ‘About my work‘ page, you’ll know that in September 2013 I was invited join the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) East Midlands Board as a student co-optee following my successful application to their student bursary scheme (I’m studying a BSc Housing at De Montfort University, currently writing a dissertation on the role of the Government in subsiding affordable housing).

So far I’ve attended 3 board meetings and also had the honour of being jointly nominated by the Board and my tutors at DMU for the CIH Midlands Student of the Year 2013 prize, which I was awarded in October 2013.

Last week I attended my first Board planning day; we welcomed our new chair Michael Bruce (Waterloo Housing), vice chair Natalie Robertson (Orbit Heart of England) and board member Sarah Huseyin (Wellingborough Homes). We started the meeting with an ice breaking game of bingo where we had to match the facts on our bingo cards to Board members, for example I learnt who on the Board has a shotgun licence, who had trials for Leicestershire County Cricket, who raised £800 playing 10 pin bowls for 24 hours dressed a Ali Baba, who can juggle three clubs and who once appeared in a three act play with sitcom star Richard Beckinsale (Godber in Porridge). As you can see the Board is made up of some interesting and fun individuals, but we soon got down to more serious agenda items.

The focus of the Board is to represent the housing profession in the East Midlands. We mainly do this through hosting local events and seminars. We also have established a strong link with De Montfort University (Dr Jo Richardson is a Board member) to promote careers in housing to students and housing courses to current housing professionals.

A significant part of the meeting focused on these two activities: we had an update on our first student conference (DMU, 3rd June) including the final agenda and current number of bookings. We also discussed having a live twitter wall at the conference, a hashtag and storify-ing the tweets after the event. I was keen to find out the latest on this conference as a) I am responsible for the Board’s twitter account and b) I will be attending the conference as a CIH / Inside Housing Rising Stars 2014 finalist and taking part in a panel discussion with my fellow finalists. We also planned our events and seminars for the rest of 2014/15, watch out for: a drinks event in Derby on 30th May, a digital inclusion event in Derby on 8th July, a legal update in Grantham on 30th September, an awards ceremony held jointly with CIH West Midlands on 23rd October in Birmingham (hosted by Mark Easton with entertainment from comedian Larry Lamb), a health and housing event in Northamptonshire on 4th November (organised by yours truly), a leaders round table in partnership with Kate Warbuton from NHF East Midlands on January 27th in Hinckley and finally the AGM and a sharing best practice event featuring winners and finalist from the awards event on 10th March at Leicester Tigers.

Finally we talked about the Board itself including making sure we have a highly effective and efficient Board through conducting regular appraisals, skills audits, yearly recruitment, recruiting champions in key Derby, Leicester and Nottingham organisations, charging non CIH members to attend events, better marketing of the Board and our activities, and broadening the membership of the Board to include members from related professions such as solicitors, housebuilders, chartered surveyors, HR professionals, health professionals and funders.

As you can see it’s going to be a busy year with hopefully something for most housing professionals in the East Midlands to engage in, please do get in touch if you have any suggestions of what you’d like to see the Board get involved in.

Advertisements

Building Together – why bother?

Some of you following my Rising Stars journey may be wondering why I’m even bothering with the Building Together campaign idea, why it’s important and if it’s even a realistic idea.

Hopefully, by the end of this post you will understand why I’m so passionate about it and will want to join me on my quest for the housing sector to develop new and creative ways of working in partnership to Build Together without Government funding for the benefit of their communities.

There are a whole host of financial based arguments that I can make as to why the sector needs to pull out every stop it can find to build more homes, but I want to start with my personal view of the situation.

Essentially, it boils down to this: life is short and I want to make the most of it by having a positive impact on the world. I’m fortunate to have had the opportunity to go to a good university to study a good degree subject (Law with French at the University of Sheffield), which opened my mind to some of the problems in the world (crime) and some ideas about how to change things. In my final year I decided I didn’t want to follow the traditional law student path to practising as a solicitor or a barrister, I wanted a meaningful career.

For a number of reasons, I set my career sights on the housing sector and I was fortunate to discover and successfully apply for the Futures Housing Group graduate scheme in 2009.

Of my 4 and half years of working at FHG, I have spent 3 of them as a member of the Housing Advice team, which advises around 700 homeless households each year. In my early days with the team, I would advise some of these households and although my role has changed since then, I still deal with families in housing need on a very regular basis.

And this is why I’m bothering with the Building Together campaign, because of these experiences on the front line, with people from all sorts of backgrounds, who all want to know why is it so difficult and why do they have to wait so long for a place they can call home?

As a committed housing professional, passionate about the work of our sector, I have always found it really challenging to say to people: “well, it’s because of X Government policy”, or “we’re waiting to hear if we’ve been successful in our funding bid”, or worst of all “I know you have nowhere to stay tonight, but you’re not in priority need, so you’re only option is to travel 15 miles to the nearest emergency hostel, queue for a space and hope they can put you up for 3 nights”.

The Building Together campaign is all about what the sector can do now, without waiting for Government policy, election results or funding bids. We are an innovative, financially robust and committed sector that can do much for ourselves and much for our communities that are relying on us to provide the affordable housing they so desperately need.

Since 2012, I’m honoured to have had the opportunity to coordinate a scheme that provides affordable housing by working in partnership with local property owners and developers. Admittedly, we have received some HCA grant for part of the scheme, but at an average of £11,000 per unit (with owners often contributing significant funding of their own) to bring empty properties back into use as affordable housing, I hope you’ll agree that we’ve made good use of the grant.

Recently, the scheme has started working with local developers who are building significant numbers of new houses and apartments at their own cost, which are leased and let by my organisation at LHA rents. This means we are providing much needed homes to our local residents without central or local Government grant and even without funding from my own organisation. It also means that when I speak to a family in housing need, I can now say “would you be interested in a brand new apartment at LHA rent?”, which is such a good feeling. Already, I can look back on my career and think, I’ve done my bit to sort out the housing shortage and as I’ll probably have to work until I’m 80, I’m excited about what other schemes and opportunities the future will bring my way.

And in case that isn’t’ enough to convince you that my campaign idea is worth bothering about and that it can be achieved, here are some facts and figures that might help (also available as an infographic here) (p.s. if you are convinced, please vote for me as your Rising Star here: https://polldaddy.com/poll/7973880/):

It makes economic sense:

Every pound spend on construction generates £2.09 of economic output

92% of all housing investment stays in the UK

56p of each pound spent returns to the exchequer, of which 36p is direct savings in tax and benefits

There’s an affordable housing shortage!

Around 250,000 new homes required each year, but in 2013, only 110,000 were completed, of which 87,000 were complete by private house builders.

1.68m households on social housing waiting lists in 2013

53,000 households statutorily homeless in 2013

13 million people in the UK live in poverty (2011/2); more than half of these are people are in work (6.7m)

More than 1 million working households claim housing benefit and in 2010/11, 93% of new claims were from working households

We are financially strong:

The sector has a combined worth of £360bn; housing associations posted a surplus of £1.8bn in 2012 and a turnover of £13.8bn

£3.8bn raised by housing associations through public bonds and private placements in 2012/3; the HCA Affordable Homes Programme 2015-18 offers £1.7bn funding

Times are changing:

77% of respondents in a recent survey of the housing sector said they do not anticipate an increase in bricks and mortar subsidies at all; 77% also thought a self-financing sector is desirable and already 24% of respondent’s development plans are for market rent.

It helps the public purse:

Decent homes save the NHS £39.2 million each year

For every property developed, local authorities receive an extra £3,000 each year for six years on average (£1,464 council tax per year plus £8,784 New Homes Bonus)

Poor housing causes many problems:

Poor educational performance and attendance

High crime rates

Increased risk of accident and

Increased transaction and production costs for goods and services

Low-paid workers are unable to live close to centres of economic activity

Serious health problems

The rise of sub regions and city regions in housing policy making

This is another post based on my studies with CIH and DMU, this assignment focused on how the traditional approaches to housing policy making have been transformed in recent years with the rise of decentralised policy to the sub and city regions, rather than individual local authorities. Additionally, students are always asked to produce an assignment that focuses on how the topic affects a housing organisation of their choice thereby testing our ability to put what we’ve learnt into practice.

As I’ve said before, CIH courses do a great job of getting students to see the bigger picture and thereby help you to become a better housing professional. This assignment was no different, as at the time of completing it the Heseltine Review was imminent and was anticipated to have significant implications for the future of housing policy making and funding.

If you’re not sure what I mean by sub regions and city regions, examples of policy making at these levels include Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), city deals and community budgets.

The assignment looked at each of these examples in turn, considering their remit, strengths and limitations. Also, the current policy making arrangements in the area that my organisation operates were considered. Following this, I posed a number of questions, conclusions and recommendations on the impact of this shift in policy making, which are copied below:

  1. There are differences in the geographical areas covered by SHMAs, LEPs, City Deals and Community Budgets, what is the impact of this for local housing policy making?Currently, regarding local housing policy making, Futures Homescape (FHL) works almost exclusively in partnership with its local authority, Amber Valley Borough Council (AVBC), AVBC takes the lead and FHL influences, supports and delivers the policy. As sub-regions and city regions continue to rise, FHL may have to expand its policy making partnerships to ensure the needs of its communities are included in any sub and city regional policies. This may be challenging as fellow partners may see FHL as a threat or competitor, and developing relationships with new partners may be difficult and time-consuming. This could be resource intensive for FHL and may result in work being duplicated to satisfy the various partnerships. It may also require new skill development amongst FHL team members in areas such as housing policy and strategy development, as historically AVBC have taken the lead in this area.
  2. What is the impact of single public sector funding pots and powers for local housing policy making?It is anticipated that a number of public sector funding pots and powers will be combined and administered by organisations with a sub or city regional remit; the Coalition Government’s spending review in June 2013 will set out details of the Single Local Growth Fund, recommended in the Lord Heseltine Review, which will bring together skills, transport and housing funding and will be awarded to LEPs. Therefore, in order to secure funds, FHL will have to ensure the needs of its communities are understood by D2N2 and reflected in their strategy and action plan. To achieve this, FHL will have to convince D2N2 of the importance and benefits of addressing housing issues in Amber Valley over addressing other issues in other areas. If FHL fails to do this, the result may be that it receives no funding from D2N2 to address issues identified in the local housing strategy.
  3. How to reconcile the current housing policy making process which is at a local level with the move towards policy making on a broader scale?If the Single Local Growth Fund goes ahead, D2N2 will be considering housing issues across 17 local authority areas, alongside economic, skill and transport issues in these areas. There is, therefore, a risk that FHL’s local housing issues will be overshadowed by other issues in other areas.
  4. There may be a temptation for FHL to consider local housing need with D2N2’s priorities and areas of focus in mind.The risk with this approach is only focusing on addressing housing need that will support D2N2’s achievement of its ambition, as a way to secure funds from D2N2, rather than seeking to address the most important local housing issues.

Each of these questions highlights the shift in the policy making framework from local to sub and city regional. There is a risk that those organisations previously responsible for local housing policy making, will develop housing policy with sub and city regional priorities in mind and this therefore begs the question if there is still a role (and should there be) for local housing strategies produced by local authorities and their partners?

Conclusions & Recommendations

The discussions above demonstrate a significant shift in recent years from a local housing policy making framework to a sub and city regional one. The latter can be seen in the rise of LEPs, Community Budgets and City Deals.

Following the Lord Heseltine Review, it is anticipated that this shift will continue, however it is currently unclear which powers and budgets will be combined and how, where and by whom they will be allocated. For example, all funding streams related to economic growth may be combined into a single funding pot and awarded to LEPs, or there may be a handful of funding pots, each awarded to a different organisation, e.g. LEP, City Deal, SHMA. The government’s response to the Lord Heseltine Review suggests that LEPs will have a significant role in securing and allocating growth funding. Further details are anticipated in the spending review on 26th June 2013.

However, no matter what the practical arrangements, it is anticipated that the focus of growth powers and budgets will be on achieving economic growth at a sub-regional level, across several local authority areas, to support national priorities.

Consequently, this raises the question if there is still a role (and should there be) for local housing strategies produced by local authorities and their partners? Given the recommendations of, and Government response to the Heseltine Review, it seems likely that D2N2 will have a key role in strategic policy making regarding economic growth, which will include housing.

However, as previously discussed, D2N2 is one of England’s largest LEPs, covering 17 local authority areas, and whilst it has strategic priorities and areas of focus relating to housing such as infrastructure and construction, these are only 2 of its 9 priorities and focus areas. Furthermore, D2N2s focus on infrastructure and construction is in terms of supporting economic growth, whereas a local housing strategy focuses on ensuring there is sufficient and appropriate accommodation to meet the housing needs of the borough and also that adequate support is available to enable people to live independently.

It is therefore concluded that there remains a very important role for local housing strategies in order to ensure local housing and housing support needs are identified, understood and addressed. However, in order to secure funding to address some of these needs, local authorities and their partners will need to engage with their LEP and other fund holders. This will require local authorities and their partners to champion housing development to their LEP as a primary route to economic growth to ensure local housing issues are not overshadowed by other issues and funding opportunities presented to the LEP.

Therefore, it is recommended that FHL:

  • Continues to work in partnership with AVBC to develop and deliver a local housing strategy
  • Develops policy making partnerships at a sub and city regional level, i.e. D2N2, DEP and SHMA to ensure it is well placed to respond to future funding opportunities and that housing issues local to FHL are represented at the sub and city regional level
  • Champions housing development as a primary route to economic growth
  • Identifies opportunities to address local housing issues that will also support D2N2s priorities in preparation for approaching D2N2 for funding
  • Lays the foundations for a City Deal bid with Derby City that focuses on housing as in the earlier examples, in preparation for a third wave of City Deals funding.

This will ensure that FHL is prepared for this new housing policy making framework and continues to address local housing issues whilst also supporting sub-regional economic growth.

Tax increment financing

Ever heard of Tax Increment Financing (TIF)? No, me neither, until the second assignment of my housing course at De Montfort University last year! Whilst anything with the word tax in the title is immediately off-putting and yawn-inducing, this assignment was a prime example of how CIH qualifications broaden your horizons and understanding and helps you become a better housing professional.

In a nutshell, TIF is a mechanism developed in the US to finance new infrastructure to bring forward regeneration projects. It’s a way to pay for growth with growth, that is, local authorities borrow money for infrastructure projects against the anticipated future growth in business rates income arising from the said infrastructure and regeneration projects.

TIF is mainly suitable for projects where a lack of infrastructure is the primary barrier to growth, where there is sufficient demand from the private sector, scope to increase business tax revenues and where other sources of finance are unavailable.

In the UK, TIF has been discussed as a funding source for housing and regeneration since the 1990s, for example Greg Clarke MP advocated the use of TIF schemes in 1999 in a Guardian article and again in 2011 at the Conservative Party Conference. Finally in 2011, the government set out the framework for TIF in England in the Local Government Finance Bill, which received Royal Assent in 2012. Scotland have been the first to make any progress and have approved a number of schemes.

When I completed the assignment in December 2012, a bidding round for TIF proposals in England was anticipated in the near future, however, to my knowledge (a quick Google search!) I can’t see that this has happened yet.

However, if you’re wondering what a TIF project might look like, I’ve copied below the project proposal summary from my assignment:

It is proposed that AVBC leads a partnership made up of the local housing association, county council, community groups and local enterprise partnership to bid for TIF 2 funding to finance a regeneration project in Heanor.

Is it proposed that this funding is used to address infrastructure issues identified in 2 recent reports which are barriers to growth and which will unlock private investment, for example:

  • Improve public transport network, pedestrian links and educational infrastructure to enable residential development
  • Encourage new market ideas to increase use of town centre, e.g. farmers and antiques markets
  • Develop a youth centre, perhaps in a vacant shop unit
  • Improve accessibility to town centre for pedestrians
  • Improve car parking and signage
  • Improvements to green spaces to increase use, e.g. bandstand, amphitheatre, eco area
  • Increase evening leisure offer, e.g. community cinema or theatre
  • Support refurbishment of derelict commercial and residential units in town centre

By implementing the above improvements, AVBC will create a town centre that is attractive to private investors such as residential, commercial and leisure developers. For example, the project would immediately ensure the viability of two sites which could provide 4,795 residential dwellings.

Further, the proposed TIF scheme supports local, regional and national regeneration priorities and will achieve a variety of social, economic, physical and environmental benefits as well as a sustainable transformation and improvement of Heanor

Thanks for reading :)

Attracting institutional investment

So far this blog has focused on real life examples of my work in the private rented sector, including leasing a development fully funded by a private developer, adopting a commercial mindset to make a profit for social purpose and working with HQN to support PRS colleagues in the sector.

In this post, I want to take a more academic approach; last year I completed a CIH University Certificate in Housing at De Montfort University where I completed an assignment on the development of the national policy of build to rent and the findings of, and reactions to, the Montague Review. The assignment concluded with a number of recommendations on how my organisation could take forward the findings of the Montague Review.

Whilst the assignment was purely academic, its conclusions were less so as I was keen to use the assignment as an opportunity to identify the bones of a strategy that my organisation could implement should it want to increase its activities in the private rented sector with institutional funding.

I have reproduced part of the assignment below as an example of how the sector could achieve my Rising Stars campaign idea of working in partnership to develop affordable housing without government finance.

In summary the assignment recommended that my organisation (FHL) progresses the build to let agenda by securing institutional investment in the PRS through a phased approach beginning with offering property management services in the PRS to build experience and reputation, then establishing a consortium of housing associations that work in partnership with LAs to develop a portfolio of properties for private rental. Finally, once the portfolio reaches a suitable size and value, either sell the portfolio to an investor, attract equity investment or transfer to a REIT and use the returns generated at all stages to develop further properties, either for market, affordable and/or social rent, to meet local housing need.

1.    Futures Homescape and built to rent

There are a number of roles for Futures Hmescape in taking forward the build to let agenda; this section shall consider these potential roles and the challenges and opportunities that they present. The next section will make recommendations on which of these roles FHL should take on, to take forward the build to let agenda.

Launch or join a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) – this is tax efficient vehicle for residential and commercial property investment by individuals and institutions. A residential REIT is established through the transfer of a portfolio of residential properties by a RP or Local Authority (LA) in return for money or equity shares in the REIT. The REIT is then listed on the stock exchange to attract private investment. Since their introduction in 2007, no purely residential REIT has been established in the UK. This is the first challenge; others include generating a sufficient and competitive income return for investors and creating a portfolio of suitable size and value (it is suggested the required value is around £100 million). However, the opportunities are that although a residential REIT is yet to be launched, there are a number under development and a sufficient mixed portfolio of properties for affordable and market rent can generate the required returns.

Facilitator of institutional investment schemes – there is opportunity to follow examples set by Manchester City Council or Thames Valley Housing Association (TVHA) to facilitate institutional investment in new build PRS stock.

Manchester City Council have demonstrated the opportunities for local authorities, local pension funds, a housebuilder and a managing agent, such as a housing association, to work together to combine land, cash and building and management expertise to develop mixed-tenure properties for sale and rental. This model will generate sufficient returns for both investors (the council and the pension fund) and reduces sales risk and overheads for the housebuilder. The challenges here are to replicate this innovative model from a large city authority in a small semi-rural, semi-urban borough, to secure further institutional investment beyond that of the pension fund and the continued viability of the model without LA land.

TVHA have recognised their strong management expertise and diversified by launching a subsidiary to purchase new build properties to let to young professionals at market rents and thereby create cross-subsidy for affordable homes. The subsidiary is financed initially through a combination of equity from TVHA and debt, but the plan is to attract further equity from institutions such as pension funds, and eventually to sell the subsidiary into a REIT. The challenge here again is to replicate this model, which targets young professionals and operates within London commuter areas, in an East Midlands district authority with lower rents and lower demand for young professional housing.

A similar scheme has been recommended by the Resolution Foundation based on work with the Royal Bank of Canada; a consortium of RPs build an investment-attractive number of properties for market rent on their balance sheet, establish a stabilised income stream from letting these properties before either selling them to an investment fund or to a REIT, the RPs continue to manage the units and recoup their development and land costs through an equity stake in the fund or REIT.  This consortium model offers an opportunity for smaller RPs who would otherwise be unable to generate the scale required for institutional investment. The challenge would be to secure the initial investment by each RP to develop properties for market rent rather than social or affordable rent.

Manager of large scale institutional funded PRS stock– there is an opportunity for housing associations to diversify and offer their property management expertise in the institutionally funded PRS, e.g. to a REIT or a partnership as in the Manchester example above. This opportunity is a relatively simple one for housing associations due to their existing experience in managing social and affordable housing. The challenges are minimal as responsibility for developing and delivering a successful investment model would lie elsewhere; one challenge would be to apply the property management expertise in one type of rental market to another, which has numerous significant differences, including different customer needs and reduced financing.

2.    Recommendations

The previous section outlined the potential roles for FHL in taking forward the build to let agenda and the challenges and opportunities that each presents; this section will recommended and justify the specific role that FHL should take.

2.1  Leasing & managing PRS properties

FHL is LSVT housing association, providing around 6000 homes across Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire. FHL has an excellent track record in managing tenancies, collecting rents and maintaining properties, which puts it a strong position to offer these services to others. Indeed, FHL has recently started successfully leasing and managing a small number of properties in Derbyshire on behalf of private landlords. This is the FHL’s first step in diversifying into a commercial activity and it has successfully adapted its approach from managing social housing stock to managing private rented stock on behalf of a private individual.

It is recommended that FHL’s first step in taking forward the build to let agenda is to continue offering management services to others, including REITs and partnerships as in the Manchester example, to build experience and reputation in this area; this is important as the Montague Review identified that a barrier to institutional investment was a “perceived shallowness of the pool of management expertise in residential investment”.

Additionally, FHL has been approached by a number of local builders with a small portfolio of rented properties, who are willing to finance and build PRS properties, if FHL will agree to lease and manage these properties long term; their lender can offer more attractive rates if such an agreement is in place, thereby reducing the builders’ development costs and increasing their return. It is recommended that FHL agrees to the long term lease and management of these properties in order to secure this private, albeit not institutional, investment into the local PRS, which will significantly benefit the local housing market and economy and increase FHL’s experience and reputation of managing PRS properties.

2.2  Attracting institutional investment 

Next, it is recommended that FHL progresses from managing PRS properties to facilitating institutional investment in the PRS by developing partnerships to bring together money, land, building and management expertise.

Regarding money, as highlighted by the Resolution Foundation investors prefer to invest in residential properties once they have been built, let and are generating an income stream; they are reluctant to invest in the building phase, as at this point the level of return is uncertain. Therefore, unless a deal can be agreed with a local pension fund, it is likely that FHL initially will have to build properties to let in the PRS from its own funds. Once FHL has built and let properties and is generating an income stream from them, FHL can look for institutional investment, just as Fizzy Living is looking to do and as the Resolution Foundation propose in their model, i.e. transfer the properties into a REIT, attract equity investment or sell the properties onto an investment fund. In all cases, FHL will receive a return that can be invested in developing social, affordable or further PRS properties.

It has been discussed above that in order to attract institutional investment, a property portfolio of a suitable value and size, which can offer the desired income return, must be established. Due to the size of FHL, it is unlikely that it will be able to establish this without working in partnership with others. As FHL is a member of the PlaceShapers Group, it is recommended that FHL forms a consortium with other members to develop a combined portfolio of suitable size and value and attract investment into this combined portfolio. It may potentially be quite challenging to persuade a sufficient consortium of members to invest in developing property for market rental rather than affordable or social rental, however there is overwhelming potential to generate much needed long-term returns to cross-subsidise the latter types of development going forward.

FHL and any consortium members must work closely with their LAs to identify land suitable for PRS development. This will not only ensure sufficient land is designated for PRS development rather than residential development in general, but also reduce the cost of the land and thereby increase the viability of the development and the investment. It may be that the LA can offer the land free of charge or on a build now, pay later basis as Manchester City Council has done. Whilst FHL’s LA partner in Derbyshire owns very little suitable land, it has identified suitable plots of land for development in its Preferred Growth Strategy, has details of the land owners and the power through the planning system to ensure PRS development on this land.

 

Please share your thoughts and experience of attracting insitutional investment for small to medium-size PRS schemes :)

Benchmarking private rented sector activities

In October 2013, I joined the Housing Quality Network as an associate, specialising in the private rented sector. Since then I have completed two assignments for HQN:

The first was a briefing on choice based lettings systems in light of recent developments such as the Welfare Reform Act 2012, the increased role of the private rented sector, the move to Affordable Rent, increased homelessness and the Localism Act 2011.

The second was a briefing on private sector leasing schemes and social lettings agencies.

Currently, we are working on a benchmarking tool for housing associations (HAs) and local authorities (LAs) engaged in the private rented sector (PRS); we have identified 4 different types of PRS activity by HAs and LAs:

  1. Private sector leasing schemes
  2. Social lettings agencies
  3. Own market rent stock
  4. Enforcement and licensing

The idea behind the benchmarking tool is to support those LAs and HAs engaging in PRS activities and also to identify examples of good practice to share with others.

I have drafted a number of possible benchmarking measures which are currently out for consultation with fellow HQN associates and a HQN member organisation. All being well, the plan is to circulate the finalised benchmarking measures to all relevant HQN members in September. Once the results are in, I will analyse and report on them to all HQN members so that they may learn and develop from them.

As coordinator of a private sector leasing scheme, I’m really looking forward to finding out how other schemes operate and perform; I have made a few contacts with fellow PSL colleagues, however, there is very little information and support available to us. This is one of the reasons why I suggested to HQN that a PRS benchmarking tool was needed in the sector and I’m really pleased that they’ve taken up the idea.