Local Government

Local government specialist

Senior reporter, Inside Housing

Sophie Barnes

Senior reporter

E-mail: sophie.barnes@insidehousing.co.uk

Phone: 020 7772 8436

Fax: 020 7772 8591

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Government working with councils on fixed-term tenancies

06/12/2016 | By Sophie Barnes

The government has set up a working group of 20 councils to look at how to implement fixed-term tenancies, a key plank of the Housing and Planning Act.

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Right to Buy extension delayed until at least 2018

24/11/2016 | By Sophie Barnes

The national roll-out of Right to Buy for housing association tenants will not take place until after April 2018 at the earliest, with the sell-off of high-value council homes also delayed.

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DCLG 'complacent' over commercial risk councils face

18/11/2016 | By Sophie Barnes

The Department for Communities and Local Government has been “complacent” over the risk councils face through their increasing commercial activity to bring in income, a report by the Public Accounts Committee has warned.

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Pay to Stay meetings cancelled as policies face delays

11/11/2016 | By Sophie Barnes

Meetings of the government’s Pay to Stay working group have been cancelled as several key measures in the Housing and Planning Act look set to be delayed.

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Housing minister casts doubt over higher value levy date

08/11/2016 | By Sophie Barnes

Housing minister Gavin Barwell has admitted councils need “plenty of time” to prepare for the higher value asset levy, raisings doubt over whether it will be introduced from April next year as expected.

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NHF urges councils to share data ahead of lower benefit cap

02/11/2016 | By Sophie Barnes

Some councils are not sharing information about tenants with housing associations ahead of the introduction of a lower benefit cap, the National Housing Federation has said.

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LGA wants 'urgent talks' with government about housebuilding

20/10/2016 | By Sophie Barnes

The Local Government Association has called on the government to commit to urgent talks about how councils can “rapidly” build homes.

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Ministers consider Pay to Stay exemption

05/10/2016 | By Sophie Barnes

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) will consider exempting council tenants from Pay to Stay in areas where social rents and market rents are similar.

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Councils use bonus to plug government cuts

16/09/2016 | By Sophie Barnes

More than half of councils have used their entire New Homes Bonus payments to top up ailing general funds after government cuts, exclusive Inside Housing research reveals.

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planning applications plans

London authorities set for greater CPO powers

08/09/2016 | By Sophie Barnes

The Greater London Authority (GLA) and Transport for London (TfL) could be given the power to create joint compulsory purchase orders to increase housing development on public sector land, according to proposed legislation.

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Labour councils call on Barwell to 'scrap the Housing Act'

03/08/2016 | By Sophie Barnes

London Labour-led councils have called on the new housing minister to scrap the Housing and Planning Act, saying it will damage social housing in the capital.

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Local plans

Six in 10 councils without an adopted Local Plan

29/07/2016 | By Sophie Barnes

Six in 10 English councils still do not have an up-to-date adopted Local Plan, just eight months before a key deadline.

Analysis

Planning for the future

29/07/2016 | By Sophie Barnes

Only four in 10 councils have an up-to-date adopted Local Plan. As Sophie Barnes finds out, this risks hampering the government’s plans to build one million homes by 2020.

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Rush in applications as Scottish RTB nears end

28/07/2016 | By Sophie Barnes

The Right to Buy in Scotland will come to an end this week, amid a rush of applications to beat the deadline.  

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Owen Smith

Labour leadership candidate pledges 300,000 homes a year

27/07/2016 | By Sophie Barnes

Labour leadership hopeful Owen Smith has pledged 300,000 new homes a year if he becomes Prime Minister.

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pay to stay house guarding

Government urged to delay Pay to Stay

27/07/2016 | By Sophie Barnes

Councils and arm’s-length management organisations are calling on ministers to delay the introduction of Pay to Stay to avoid a ‘tight’ timetable, after the government failed to publish regulations before the parliamentary recess.

North of England

Northern landlords raise doubts over minister's new role

21/07/2016 | By Sophie Barnes

Social landlords in the north of England have raised concerns about the new housing minister’s extra role as minister for London, urging him to focus on housing issues across the whole country.

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Scottish parliament

Reduce 'LHA cap' impact, say Scottish landlords

20/07/2016 | By Sophie Barnes

Scottish ministers should use their new welfare powers to ease the impact of UK government cuts to housing benefit, housing experts have said.

Devo

Housing devolution seen as 'piecemeal'

19/07/2016 | By Sophie Barnes

The devolution of housing powers in deals agreed between combined authorities and the Treasury is seen by senior council staff as “slow” and “piecemeal”, a report has concluded.

Ilo of garden city homes

Garden City proposed for North Lincolnshire

05/07/2016 | By Sophie Barnes

North Lincolnshire Council plans to apply to the government for Garden City status.

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Majority of social housing tenants 'voted to leave the EU'

27/06/2016 | By Sophie Barnes

A majority of social housing tenants voted to Leave the European Union, according to an analysis by polling expert Lord Ashcroft.

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Calendar with circled date

'Three in four Universal Credit tenants in arrears'

07/06/2016 | By Sophie Barnes

Social housing representative bodies are calling on the government to review Universal Credit as new research finds more than three-quarters of tenants are in rent arrears.

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For use in Inside Housing, 20 May 2016

Using headroom to the max? Video

20/05/2016 | By Keith Cooper

Councils were left with £2.9bn of borrowing headroom to build new homes, following a deal with the government in 2012. Keith Cooper investigates why dreams of a large-scale return to direct development have not come to pass.

council house

Government increases fixed-term tenancy limit to 10 years

27/04/2016 | By Sophie Barnes

The government will allow social landlords to offer new tenancies of up to 10 years – rather than five – in a partial climbdown in the Housing and Planning Bill.

board room

ALMOs call for exemption from deregulatory plan

27/04/2016 | By Sophie Barnes

Arm’s-length management organisations (ALMOs) are calling on the government to exclude them from proposals to limit the influence of councils over registered providers.

Westminster Parliament government

Government loses vote on 20p taper rate

18/04/2016 | By Sophie Barnes

The government has been defeated in the House of Lords over its taper proposals for Pay to Stay.

Planning - use me

'Special measures' for councils missing Local Plan deadline

18/03/2016 | By Sophie Barnes

Council planning departments failing to submit Local Plans by March 2017 could be put in ‘special measures’, under proposals being considered by the government.

planning applications plans

Councils warn about Local Plan timeframe

17/03/2016 | By Sophie Barnes

Councils have warned that a suggested six to 12-month window to review Local Plans to include a wider definition of affordable housing is not achievable.

Brownfield land

Government invites bids for Starter Homes cash

16/03/2016 | By Sophie Barnes

The government is calling for local authorities to apply for a £1.2bn fund to prepare brownfield land for Starter Homes.

Devo

Council rejects devolution plan over affordable housing

11/03/2016 | By Sophie Barnes

Cambridge City Council has refused to join a devolution plan for the region after the government rejected its affordable housing asks.

Comments (2)

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Applicants barred by local connection rules

11/03/2016 | By Sophie Barnes

More than half of councils to respond to an Inside Housing survey have imposed new local connection rules to slash their waiting lists.

Comments (2)

a lesson in right to buy

Councils left 'in the dark' over high value asset levy

25/02/2016 | By Sophie Barnes

Councils are urgently calling for clarity over the amount they will be forced to pay next financial year to fund the Right to Buy extension.

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Lords criticise Starter Homes definition

19/02/2016 | By Sophie Barnes

The government’s proposal to include Starter Homes within the definition of affordable housing “risks preventing the delivery of genuinely affordable housing”, a cross-party Lords select committee has said.

planning applications plans

Councils encouraged to compete over planning applications

18/02/2016 | By Sophie Barnes

The government is encouraging councils to compete to process planning applications and to be able to offer fast-track application services under consultation proposals.

RSS feed for Who's who in local development

Who's who in local development

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Julie Whittaker

13/10/2016

Pendle Borough Council is credited with surviving a brutal 18% cut in revenue support grants from the government, and even though the top team has had one eye on the finances, it has always been careful to keep communities together in its housing schemes. The judges praised the council for being prepared “to go against the grain to get new housing delivered”.

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Helen McHale

13/10/2016

Helen McHale is praised by colleagues for combining a commercial approach to housing growth with a socially responsible commitment to meeting local needs. She has lobbied for funding to build homes for market rent and sale. There is now a deal on the horizon that could result in loans for all housing types.

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Tracey Lee and Nick Carter

13/10/2016

Plymouth was felt to be an impressive council by our judges and the executive team was praised for persevering in trying to regenerate the city. An example of this regeneration is the Georgian docks. The site was turned into a mixed-use residential scheme, which our judges were particularly impressed with.Nick ...

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Paul Derrien

13/10/2016

The three Dorset councils have worked well together to boost housing delivery in the region. Paul Derrien from West Dorset District Council oversaw the development of an extra care scheme, a long-standing council ambition. This development came about through joint working between the Duchy, Homes and Communities Agency, the county council and Yarlington Homes.

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Scott Cardwell

13/10/2016

Scott Cardwell is “a name to remember”, according to a senior colleague. He works with developers in an “engaging and enthusiastic way”, and despite Doncaster facing challenges attracting developers he has promoted a development-friendly culture that has led to a rise in housebuilding.

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Steve Pearce

13/10/2016

East Hampshire has been praised by our judges for its hard work trying to make the best use of Ministry of Defence land in a rural area in which new development can be frowned upon.

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Ian Fitzpatrick

13/10/2016

Our judges said Ian Fitzpatrick leads a great housing team that is “very joined-up”. Ian not only battled to develop a culture of confidence within the council between commercially-minded development staff and others, but he has also helped engender a better working relationship between the legal, finance and development teams.

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Alison Butler and Colm Lacey

13/10/2016

In a local government world where the obstacles to housing delivery are legion, Alison Butler is praised for her proactive and supportive approach.

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Paul Beardmore

13/10/2016

Our judges unanimously felt that any list of the main players in council development would be incomplete without Paul Beardmore.

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Tracey Kerly and Gerry Clarkson

13/10/2016

Having made the unusual move from head of housing to chief executive of the council, Tracey Kerly is credited with driving the housing agenda at Ashford Borough Council.Gerry Clarkson, leader, Ashford Borough Council

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Elaine McHugh

13/10/2016

North Lanarkshire Council is a leading light when it comes to helping the Scottish Government achieve its ambition of delivering 50,000 affordable homes. It recently announced it will build 1,800 new council homes by 2026 to help reduce the size of its waiting list and has earmarked £160m for the work.

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Stephen Hills

13/10/2016

South Cambridgeshire District Council is known for punching above its weight in an area where the housing crisis is particularly acute. Stephen has expertly guided the housing team through budget cuts, regeneration hiccups and new developments. A testing time came during the regeneration of a large estate, where one homeowner refused to move out, leading to coverage in the local press. Stephen worked with local councillors to ensure they had compulsory purchase order powers at the ready ...

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Clare Budden

13/10/2016

Clare is described by her colleagues as a champion for housing development and regeneration across Wales, influencing all aspects of housing policy through her advisory role with the Welsh Local Government Association. She established the first Welsh local authority housing company, doing so in response to a problem with providing homes at affordable rents to meet the needs of the “squeezed middle”. She describes herself as “always a cup half-full person” and says she remains persistent ...

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Carl Brazier

13/10/2016

Our judges said Carl Brazier has been “shaking the tree” at Stoke-on-Trent City Council to boost the number of houses it delivers through self-build, custom build and extra care housing, among other tenure types.

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Clive Skidmore

13/10/2016

Birmingham City Council has devised a clutch of interesting policies to boost housing numbers in recent years and at the bottom of every report seems to be the name of Clive Skidmore.

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Jon Mallen-Beadle

13/10/2016

According to his colleagues, Jon has been at the “forefront” of local authority development since 2009, when he set up Keelman Homes, a not-for-profit charity that aimed to regenerate parts of Gateshead.

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John Lumley

13/10/2016

John Lumley is credited with leading one of the largest estate regeneration projects ever completed, with 9,000 new homes delivered. By using self-funding programmes he has successfully turned around schemes with a history of failure. These have delivered a substantial number of homes for social rent and shared ownership alongside market rent.

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Ian Davidson

13/10/2016

In 2012 the deprived area of Jaywick flooded and the council bought acres of land. Now major investors are vying to get exclusivity on the site. Judges hailed Ian Davidson as a great leader, heading up one of the best coastal council teams.

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Michael Thain

13/10/2016

Edinburgh City Council has recently announced that it hopes to deliver 16,000 affordable homes over the next decade in partnership with six local housing associations.

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Nick Murphy

13/10/2016

Nick Murphy has turned around this arm’s-length management organisation’s relationship with the local council.

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Jeremy Grint and Darren Rodwell

13/10/2016

Our judges praised Barking and Dagenham as a “visionary” council. Jeremy Grint is described as a “catalyst for change” by his colleagues. He has delivered a large number of new homes and cares about “great design, social investment and building homes that people will enjoy living in for years to come”.Darren ...

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Andrew Wood

13/10/2016

Andrew has overseen an ambitious development in East Devon, which now has more than 1,000 occupied homes and is gearing up for a new school. Building a new town is a formidable undertaking and Andrew has handled it adeptly. He is a planner by background with experience in regeneration projects. This grounding means he considers infrastructure needs alongside housing, something which has befuddled similarly qualified local government figures.

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Lewis Herbert

13/10/2016

Lewis Herbert has provided political leadership around the city’s growth and has helped ensure the collaboration with neighbouring South Cambridgeshire District Council works well, according to his colleagues. He is credited as the key person keeping the city deal and infrastructure delivery ambitions on track.

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Nick Walkley

13/10/2016

Nick Walkley is a well-known name in the world of local government, and has been unafraid to make bold decisions both during his time at Barnet Borough Council and now at Haringey.

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Eamonn Boylan

13/10/2016

Eamonn Boylan has been instrumental in driving the housing agenda during the Greater Manchester devolution negotiations. Our judges said he was responsible for making sure all the councils worked together to hone their housing ask from government.

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Pat Ritchie

13/10/2016

A previous chief executive of the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), Pat Ritchie arrived in Newcastle with a wealth of housing experience under her belt. She is proud of her persistence in pushing through a 1,800-home development in the west end of Newcastle, a part of the city that has suffered high levels of deprivation over the years.

Manjeet Gill

13/10/2016

Manjeet Gill has established a strong national reputation in her role as deputy housing spokesperson for the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives.

Karen Curtin and Sue Smith

13/10/2016

Karen Curtin trained as an accountant and was previously head of finance and procurement at Northamptonshire and Cherwell councils. She has successfully tackled Section 106 disagreements that were delaying development without compromising any of the environmental aspects of the design.

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Gary Josey and Robert Lawton

12/10/2016

Gary Josey “brings energy and passion” according to our judges. He joined Bournemouth Borough Council in 1977, where he started out as an apprentice carpenter. He is described as a “great motivational leader” by colleagues and his leadership in setting up the council’s housing companies has been highlighted.Robert ...