Posted by: Carl Brown15/06/2012
The Inside Housing news team is back in London today recovering from a hectic time at the Chartered Institute of Housing annual conference.
Apart from the change of venue, from Harrogate to Manchester, what was different about this year’s event?
Delegates this year seemed much focused on ways to mitigate the coalition government’s welfare reforms, including plans to restrict housing benefit for under-occupiers and the implementation of universal credit paid direct to tenants.
Whereas in the last couple of years delegates have been more content to simply complain about the radical changes, the focus this year has been on practical ways tenants and landlords can cope.
Manchester’s conference hotels were buzzing with discussions around pooling properties to alleviate the bedroom tax, ideas around how to inform tenants and help them budget and methods landlords can adopt to protect their income.
The realisation that the reforms are now just months away appears to be focusing minds.
This pragmatism, characteristic of the sector, was recognised by Lord David Freud in his speech to conference.
Clearly pleased at the response of the sector so far, the welfare reform minister said the sector ‘clearly’ backs the move to universal credit. He was quite rightly put in his place by Julia Unwin, chief executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, who pointed out that the sector’s pragmatism and search for solutions does not mean it agrees with the reforms.
The sector has got its thinking cap on regarding welfare reform, but policymakers should not forget the disruption, upheaval and hardship the measures will cause for thousands of tenants and their landlords.
From Housing matters
Carl Brown looks at regulation, training, board members, pay and a host of other issues that impact the day to day running of social landlords