W Nixon's posts
Sometimes civil unrest is stimulated by a combination of factors rather than a single issue. I don't think that the recent "riots" were caused because someone wanted a flat screen TV. Rather I suspect it was a manifestation of anger and frustration caused by the current environment.
Unfortunately myself along with a number of others predicted the likelihood of civil unrest as soon
as the economic fortunes of the Country became apparent. In terms of young people, we know from various research and statistics that they are some of the hardest hit by the current economic environment. In many instances people need hope and a sight of what a positive future may look like and I do fear that at present not enough young people can see a brighter future. The effect of the single room rate could add to this feeling. As a singular issue I wouldn't believe it would cause rioting, but as an added ingredient to the current environment then it possibly could.
The question for us as a housing movement is what more we can do to provide positive opportunities. As a Country, it strikes me that we have just gone through a decade of milk and honey in respect of public expenditure and investment but we have failed to maximise the opportunities that this presented to increase employment and skills and the economic prosperity of key communities. As social landlords I am afraid that a good number of our customers will be most adversely affected by the austerity measures and I think it is up to us to help lead the response for the communities we serve.
Three years ago, at the organisation where I work, we made the unusual step of acquiring a training company that specialises in providing training and employment opportunities particularly for young people who are leaving school with limited academic qualifications. We have re-orientated our business to try and create as many opportunities as we possibly can. We now employ 70 young apprentices (11% of our workforce) and have worked with an ever expanding network to create of companies to create over 350 apprenticeship opportunities. I know other organisations are doing some great work but are we all doing enough?
Posted in: Twitter and the riots
I would have expected that housing organisations would have been in regular liaison with the Police and other appropriate agencies who would be advising them regarding the risk of civil unrest and would no doubt be using a range of information gathering techniques, including social media, to determine those areas of risk.
The principles of localism in terms of devolving power closer to communities is clearly consistent with the development of sustainable communities. However this assumes that community capacity is available to engage with these activities, in our experience this is very patchy and particularly in disadvantaged communities needs significant support to rebalance the relationships so that local people can have an effective voice.
This of course similarly relates to the 'Big Society' concept, however with the difficulties being experienced in the voluntary and community sector of maintaining their capacity, there are real issues of the degree to which they can support communities to respond to localism.
The Housing sector has a tradition of involving and working closely with its customers. Increasingly we see the need to direct more activity in working with communities in building capacity and we have established a programme of developing neighbourhood plans at Aspire, working closely with communities to shape priorities within their neighbourhoods based on improving social, economic and environmental outcomes.
In terms of resources to support your research, the HCA website and their learning resources are very useful, similarly organisations such as Joseph Rowntree Foundation and other public think tanks produce some interesting and contrasting perspectives. However given the newness of some of this policy agenda and its evolving nature there are some gaps at present. Best wishes in your studies.
The term stakeholder can be very broad in respect of those people and organisations that have an interest in the housing association. Typically stakeholders are:
Customers - including Leaseholders
Regulators such as TSA
Third sector partners
Local Authorities, PCTs, LEPs
Posted in: Speculative applications
My advice is to ask yourself do you want to wait for an opportunity or try and create an opportunity? Whilst jobs in housing development maybe scarce I also think that when jobs do become available demand will be high.
Obviously I don't know your the skill sets and experience you are offering but I would advise a proactive approach and to make contact with associations, developers and contractors....depending of course on what type of role you're is looking for. I'm not sure if you could offer services on a voluntary basis initially to get into an organisation and gain experience, but if you could then I also think that this would be worth stating.
I know that the person may have to steel themselves in getting knock backs or no replies, but I honestly think nothing ventured nothing gained....so go for it.
Posted in: limit of who can bid
Any restrictions would have to be part of the advertising criteria in a CBL scheme. A restriction which allows only certain applicants to apply would need to be part of a local lettings policy for the area. The local lettings policy would need to identify the reasons for varying the mainstream allocations policy and preventing other applicants in housing need from applying.
Local lettings policies can be used to restore a balance, promote diversity in an area and to support sustainability but should only be of short duration until the objectives of the intervention have been met. Local connection criteria can also be applied where there is a Section 106 planning condition in place.
Posted in: Adaptation gone wrong...?
In Section 1 of the Building Regs Part M 1991 and 2004 it does state handrails should be provided to both sides of any ramps or stairs which are continuous, easy grip and slip resistant. There should also be upstands measuring 100mm on both sides to act as a kerb to ensure wheelchairs/pushchairs don't roll off. In some cases if a ramp is regraded so the slope is a gradual rise you wouldn't necessarily need a handrail.
However, some organisations would always provide handrails to any installed ramp/slope as it is a vulnerable point of access and would therefore regard this as best practise.
The provisions in the regulations "are expected to enable occupants with disabilities to cope better with reducing mobility and to "stay put" longer in their own homes."
If there are no plans to install handrails, I would advise the customer to speak to their landlord and refer to the approved Building Regs Part M guidance published by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.
I would propose that they look generally at familiarising themselves with the development environment, Project Management courses are not fundamental more a broad understanding of construction processes and the different people involved. In my experience those that have been successful in moving from admin to development have worked in development departments initially understanding processes and building confidence around construction.
The number of people involved from legal services, construction professionals through to developers and contractors mean that the ability to build and maintain relationships is far more advantageous.
The nature of development is complex and every project has its own set of individual problems meaning that you are constantly on a learning curve. S106 agreements are a small element of the development field and although a good starting point to understand the parties involved, the process of negotiation can be more based around broader business objectives.
I'll start possibly a bit back to front.
In relation to training I note that the poster says that they cannot fund any training right now, but it maybe worth them investigating to undertake an NVQ in Housing which enables them to study whilst working on the job and assesses both their compentcies on the job as well as their technical abilities. The reason I raise this is that often the NVQs are part or fully funded so wouldn't necessarily cost them money. It may also give a structure to the undoubted appetite that they have for learning.
In terms of websites and links and keeping up to date with issues I would suggest linking to CIH, NHF, CLG and HCA as well as Inside Housing of course!!
In terms of books and text these are often a personal choice and the topics are so wide ranging that I am going to suggest a slightly different tac.
In relation to E&D the organisation the person works for should have an E&D policy which would be a good starting point.
I think they also might find it beneficial to read some material that traces the history of social housing from its genisis to the current day. I remember reading a text book by Malpass & Murie which tracked housing policy to practice over a period of decades and it helped me understand the whole sector much better and much quicker.
In terms of the other areas mention and in particular policy, I would suggest that rather than entering straight into a text book I would undertake some research via the Internet and delve into particular topic areas. There will also be lots of opportunities here to gather a variety of information as well differing views and opinions as well as the potential to purchase text books if desired.
Your question raises some interesting questions with respect to the relationship between governance, co-regulation and specifically the position of tenants within this.
Our view has been that the role of scrutiny is to support the role of tenants (customers in our terms) in co-regulation through ensuring the national standards and local offers are maintained from a customer perspective. It is therefore important for us that there is a constructive relationship with, but independence from the governance or executive arrangements of the organisation.
To that end therefore we have focused on supporting building capacity of customers to undertake this role though training and support, but the election of members of the scrutiny function is in our arrangements a matter for our involved customers. This is partly driven by the particular skills and interests of customers given the range of different opportunities we provide for them to be involved and their own arrangements in forming their panels and electing executive roles for these groups.