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Local Government Bulletin | 27 June 2023

6th July 2023

Local government updates.

Affordable Homes Programme funding can now be used to fund replacement homes.

Homes England has today (27 June) announced that grant funding provided through the government’s Affordable Homes Programme 2021-26 can now be used to fund replacement homes, alongside new affordable homes, as part of wider estate regeneration plans.

The housing and regeneration agency will now be able to support its partners to replace housing that is outdated and no longer fit for purpose.

Homes England is encouraging all affordable housing providers and councils to get in contact as early as possible if they need support to develop their proposals.

The change will come into effect immediately and funding decisions will be made on a regular basis up until the end of March 2025, subject to availability of funding.

Homes England has today (27 June) also published statistics about housing starts on site and housing completions delivered between 1 April 2022 and 31 March 2023.

Consultation on Regulator of Social Housing’s equality objectives – closes soon.

On 25 April, the Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) launched a consultation on its equality objectives. The RSH is proposing three new equality objectives which focus on the robustness and quality of equality data in the sector; how it communicates; and the culture of its organisation.

Private registered providers, local authority registered providers, tenants, lenders and other interested stakeholders are invited to give feedback on whether they think the proposed objectives meet the Regulator of Social Housing’s obligations under the Equality Act.

The consultation closes at 6:30pm on 30 June.

Research into the supported housing sector: survey for councils – closes soon.

DLUHC and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have recently commissioned research to assess the size, cost and demand of the supported housing sector. This will update the 2016 supported accommodation review.

The research, led by the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research at Sheffield Hallam University, aims to ensure government has the best available data for making decisions on the future direction of supported housing policy.

DWP sent a link for a Supported Housing Commissioner survey via their points of contact in councils on 22 March. If you are not aware of the survey and think you are an appropriate person to respond for your organisation, then please contact Dave Leather To ensure as many councils as possible can respond, the survey closes on 30 June.

If you have any questions, please contact:

Local Government Capacity Centre: Support for development of homes and communities – reminder.

On 1 June, Homes England launched the Local Government Capacity Centre’s summer learning programme to support councils with the development of homes and communities.

The programme is aimed at sharing knowledge on topics including creating a distinct narrative for a place, measuring social value in economic appraisal, biodiversity net gain, green infrastructure and planning for later living. Council officers are advised to book early to secure a place.

The summer learning programme is free to join and will run from 10 to 20 July. As part of this series, Homes England will apply for Continuing Professional Development (CPD) accreditation for attendees.

The registration deadline for all sessions is 3 July. You can find the sign-up links on GOV.​UK.

High energy use businesses urged to claim extra discount on energy bills.

The government has today (27 June) called on eligible businesses to apply for the support available through the Energy Bills Discount Scheme.

Energy-intensive businesses and heat network operators have one month left (until 25 July) to apply for government support that could see their wholesale energy bills reduced by as much as a fifth. The scheme was put in place to keep costs down by offering a higher rate of support for those using significant amounts of energy to deliver their services and goods.

The government has also issued a reminder to heat network operators that they have a legal requirement to apply, to ensure a fair deal for their customers who would otherwise face higher energy bills compared to those covered by the energy price cap.

All heat suppliers with domestic end consumers are required by law to apply for the scheme and pass on the benefit they receive to their end consumers. The heat supplier is the body responsible for supplying and charging for the supply of heating and/or hot water supplied by the heat network. Councils and housing associations that operate heat networks will need to apply. If heat network operators do not apply for the scheme then enforcement action can be taken.

Councils are encouraged to share this information with businesses in their area.

Homes for Ukraine: education and childcare funding update.

Yesterday (26 June), the government updated the guidance for councils on funding to provide education and childcare services for Ukrainian children who have entered England via the Homes for Ukraine scheme 2022 to 2023 to include allocations for quarter four.

The guidance is for councils and relates to funding to provide education and childcare services for children who have entered England via the Homes for Ukraine scheme 2022 to 2023. It explains the conditions for spending the grant and the government decided allocations.

Information for secondary schools and colleges: operation KARETU border force campaign – reminder.

Border force safeguarding teams are running an awareness raising initiative aimed at young adults travelling to Mediterranean holiday resorts over the summer. The objective is to safeguard potentially vulnerable young people against exploitation and criminality.

Activity is taking place across UK ports from two weeks ago 14 June to 19 July. If councils or educational settings have any questions or want to learn more about the initiative, please contact referencing ‘operation KARETU’.

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