2017 Consultations

Funding for Supported Housing: two consultations [England]

The document containing the policy statement and the two consultation papers can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/funding-for-supported-housing-two-consultations .

Closing date for response is 23rd January 2017

Funding for supported housing is complex and comes from a variety of sources, with ‘housing’ costs and ‘support’ costs being met separately. This is important in allowing people to access the right level of support in their own homes, and in supporting people to live independently.

Around £4.12 billion of Housing Benefit is spent on meeting housing related costs (rent and eligible service charges) for supported housing – representing around 17 percent of total Housing Benefit expenditure. Around a further £2.05 billion from a variety of sources, including local authority adult social care and housing and homelessness funding, covers support and care services. Around 79 percent of older people in supported housing claim Housing Benefit to help them meet housing costs, as do 97 percent of working -age people in supported housing.

The government has developed a three-pronged approach to funding supported housing in England. This reflects the needs of diverse client groups through a diverse set of funding models:

A: ‘Sheltered Rent’ – for those in sheltered and extra care housing

  • For sheltered and extra care housing, often for older people but also including working-age tenants
  • Introducing a ‘Sheltered Rent’, a type of social rent, which keeps funding for sheltered and extra care housing in the welfare system.
  • Better cost control, as the social housing regulator will use existing powers to regulate gross eligible rent (rent inclusive of eligible service charges) charged by registered providers. Views are sought on the appropriate level to set gross eligible rent at.
  • This model will come in to effect from 2020.
  • This will provide the certainty providers need in order to invest in future supply, whilst providing enhanced cost controls and ensuring value for money for the taxpayer, and good outcomes for tenants.

B: Local Grant Fund – for short-term and transitional supported housing

  • For short-term and transitional supported housing – including supported housing for homeless people with support needs, people fleeing domestic abuse, people receiving support for drug and alcohol misuse, offenders and young people at risk.
  • 100% of this provision will be commissioned at a local level, funded locally through a ring-fenced grant, and underpinned by a new local planning and oversight regime. This means all the funding for housing costs (including rent and eligible service charges) that were previously met from Housing Benefit, will instead be allocated to local authorities to fund services that meet the needs of their local areas.
  • This model will come in to effect from 2020.
  • As per the recommendations of the Joint Select Committee inquiry, this removes short-term accommodation costs from the welfare system and provides local areas with more oversight and control over the provision in their areas.
  • An individual’s entitlement for help with their housing costs (through Housing Benefit or the housing cost element of Universal Credit) will be unchanged.

C: Welfare System (Housing Benefit/Universal Credit) – for long-term supported housing

  • For long-term supported housing – including supported housing for those with learning disabilities, mental ill health and physical disabilities, as well as highly specialised supported housing.
  • As Local Housing Allowance rates will no longer be applied, 100% of housing costs (rent inclusive of eligible service charges) will continue to be funded as at present through the welfare system (subject to the application of the existing housing benefit/Universal Credit rules).  The Government will work with the sector to develop and deliver improvements to cost control, quality and outcomes.

Parliamentary Inquiry into Universal Credit Roll-Out

The Work and Pensions Select Committee is currently considering evidence received concerning its inquiry into the DWP's preparedness for the scheduled acceleration of the rollout of full service Universal Credit from October 2017, including waits for payments, advance payments, impact on and communication with local authorities and landlords, Alternative Payment Arrangements, the effects of planned Jobcentre closures and the proposed flexible arrangements in Scotland.

Details about the inquiry can be found at: https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/work-and-pensions-committee/inquiries/parliament-2017/inquiry/

The deadline for written submissions closed on 19th October. The Institute’s submission can be found here

 

Parliamentary Inquiry into Business Rates Retention [England]

The Parliamentary Communities and Local Government Committee has launched an inquiry regarding Business Rates Retention (England). This inquiry closes on 14th December 2017. 

Details of the Inquiry can be found at:

http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/communities-and-local-government-committee/inquiries/parliament-2017/business-rates-retention-17-19/

The IRRV response can be found here

 

Reforming the Non-Domestic Rates Appeal System in Wales

Consultation is open until 9th January 2018 on Welsh Government proposals to change the Non-Domestic Rates Appeals system. The consultation examines proposals to reform: the registration for the appeals process; the time periods for each stage; the provision of information; backdating appeals; and fines (civil penalties). It also includes proposals concerning the introduction and level of fees for appeals and the role of the Valuation Tribunal for Wales in the appeals process

The consultation paper can be found at: https://consultations.gov.wales/consultations/reforming-non-domestic-rates-appeals-system-wales

 

Breathing Space: Call for Evidence

The government is issuing this call for evidence to gain further insight from the debt advice sector and creditors about how best to design, implement, administer and monitor a six-week breathing space scheme and statutory debt management plan.

The call for evidence covers the following, broad, topics:

  • how to access and then enter a six-week breathing space
  • how a breathing space could work for creditors and debtors
  • how to best design a statutory debt management plan

The informal consultation closes on 16 January 2018.  The consultation documentation can be found here:

Business rates relief for new fibre on telecommunication hereditaments [England]

DCLG have released a consultation document in respect of the above

Details can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/business-rates-relief-for-new-fibre-on-telecommunication-hereditaments

In summary the consultation seeks views on the draft regulations to provide business rates relief for new fibre infrastructure

The Telecommunication Infrastructure (Relief from Non-Domestic Rates) Bill aims to provide the powers necessary to implement 100% business rates relief for new full fibre infrastructure. Through these powers government will seek to make regulations which deliver the relief to operators of telecom networks who install new fibre on their networks.

This new fibre will be eligible for 100% relief from business rates for the 5 years from 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2022.

The government is seeking views on how the draft regulations implement this relief.

The closing date for comments is 21st November 2017.

The Institute's response can be found here

 

Report of the Barclay Review of Non-Domestic Rates [Scotland]

Download a copy of the report issued in August 2017 by the Barclay Review of Non-Domestic Rates in Scotland.

There are 30 recommendations on

Measures to support economic growth.

Measures to improve ratepayer experience and administration of the system.

Measures to increase fairness and ensure a level playing field.

Download Report

Delivering a Tax Cut for Small Businesses - A New Small Business Relief Scheme for Wales

Views were invited regarding the Welsh Government's policy proposals for delivering a permanent small business rates relief (SBRR) scheme for Wales.

From 1 April 2018 the Welsh Government are introducing a new SBRR scheme in Wales. This permanent scheme aims to more effectively target support for small businesses. Proposals include:

  • limiting relief for businesses qualifying for SBRR across multiple properties
  • reviewing current and future exceptions from SBRR
  • increasing support for eligible small businesses
  • providing additional relief for certain sectors which support wider Government objectives, for example the childcare sector
  • longer term considerations for the scheme

 The Cabinet Written Statement on the proposals can be found at: http://gov.wales/about/cabinet/cabinetstatements/2017/smallbusraterelief/?lang=en

The consultation document can be found at: https://consultations.gov.wales/consultations/delivering-tax-cut-small-businesses-new-small-business-rates-relief-scheme-wales

The deadline for comment was 13th October 2017.

The Institute's response can be found here

 

Supporting People Programme Guidance and Outcome Framework Consultation [Extent: Wales]

The purpose of this consultation is to seek views on the revised Supporting People Programme Grant Guidance and the Outcomes Framework which have been produced by the Welsh Government in partnership with external stakeholders.

The Supporting People Programme helps vulnerable people to live independently in their own home or supported housing. In 2012 the current programme was rolled out following the merger of two separate grants into the Supporting People Programme Grant. Guidance was developed to assist people to understand the programme, and take a structured approach to developing and commissioning services.

As the programme continues to develop going forward it is now appropriate to revisit the initial Guidance and ensure it enables local authorities, who administer the funding to providers, to continue to provide services which are suitable for the needs of the vulnerable people it seeks to support. Additionally there have been substantial legislative changes in Wales including the Housing (Wales) Act 2014, the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015, Violence Against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Act 2015 and the Social Services and Well-being

(Wales) Act 2014. These changes have increased the focus on early prevention and individuals receiving the right service at the right time and having more of a say in the way in which they receive support.

Alongside the development of the Guidance it is also timely to consider the Outcome Framework which helps to underpin the evidence of the impact of the programme. The current Framework was put in place in 2012 and work has been undertaken to strengthen this since that time. However it is now also appropriate to revisit the framework, and to have a stronger focus on a smaller number of outcomes which better reflect the purpose of the programme as well as the needs of the individuals receiving support, as well as helping to make it more relevant for them.

The consultation paper can be found here.

Deadline for response is 4th August 2017.

 

100% business rates retention: further consultation on the design of the reformed system [Extent: England]

The Government has published a further consultation on 100% business rates retention, on the design of the reformed system. This consultation seeks further views on the implementation of the Government's commitment to allow local government to retain 100% of business rates raised locally. 

This consultation paper can be viewed here.  The deadline to respond to the consultation is 3 May 2017. 

Alongside the consultation document the Government have published the summary of responses to the original consultation. This is also available here.

The Institute's response can be found here.

 

Amending the Valuation Tribunal for Wales Regulations 2010 [Extent: Wales]

Following discussions with the Valuation Tribunal for Wales and in response to recommendations made by the Committee for Administrative Justice and Tribunals for Wales, the Welsh Government has reviewed the current governance and operational arrangements as prescribed by the Valuation Tribunal for Wales Regulations 2010 (“the 2010 Regulations”) and has proposed a number of amendments to facilitate future reforms.  The proposed changes concerned: new arrangements for the Governing Council; changes to the arrangements for appointing members and chairpersons; changes to the membership number range in legislation; Implementing a maximum ten-year term for members; and simplifying administrative procedures and enabling efficiency savings.

The consultation closed on 16th April. 

The consultation paper can viewed here.

The IRRV response was supportive of all proposals in the consultation and can be viewed here.

Discretionary Business Rates Relief Scheme [Extent: England]

This consultation concerned the design and implementation of the discretionary business rates relief scheme, as announced in the Spring Budget on 8th March. Deadline for response was 7th April 2017.

The intention is that every billing authority in England will be provided with a share of the £300million to support their local businesses. This will be administered through billing authorities’ discretionary relief powers under section 47 of the Local Government Act 1988.

The Government believes that local authorities are best placed to judge the particular circumstances of local ratepayers and direct the funding where it is most needed to support local economies. Under the proposals, the Government will allocate the available funding to each billing authority area based on assumptions about how authorities will target their relief scheme.

The consultation can be found here.

The IRRV response can be found here

A DCLG Statement on the Discretionary Business Rates Relief Scheme, made to clarify the position following the announcement of the General Election, can be found here

 

Funding Reform for supported Accommodation Sector [Extent: Great Britain]

January 2017

This consultation is issued jointly by the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department for Communities and Local Government Committee.  It seeks views on the government’s plans for a new housing costs funding model for supported housing as well as views on how funding for emergency and short term placements should work. It covers the following areas:

  • Devolved top-up funding to local authorities in England.
  • Funding for emergency and short term supported housing placements across Great Britain.

From 2019/20 a new funding model for supported housing will be introduced, which will ensure that the sector continues to be funded at current levels, taking in to account the effect of the government policy on social sector rents.

Supported housing, which supports some of the most vulnerable people from across the country, will continue to be exempt from the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) cap until 2019. From then the new funding model will protect the sector from the cap with a top-up of additional ring-fenced funding.

This will mean Housing Benefit and the housing element of Universal Credit will focus on paying for core housing costs, whilst the new ring-fenced pot of money will give local authorities greater flexibility to commission services in line with local needs.

The application of the LHA policy for general needs accommodation will also now be aligned with the timing of these plans, so will now be introduced in 2019 instead of 2018.

The consultation period runs until 13th February 2017 and will also seek views on how best to fund the provision of short-term housing, such as hostels, refuges and emergency accommodation.

The consultation paper can be found here.

The IRRV response can be found here.

 

Joint Parliamentary Inquiry into the Government's Funding Reform for Supported Housing [Extent: Great Britain]

January 2017

The Work and Pensions Committee and the Communities and Local Government Committee held a joint inquiry into the Government's funding reform for supported housing.

The inquiry examined the planned changes for 2019–20, when core rent and service charges for supported housing will be funded through Housing Benefit or Universal Credit up to the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rate. For costs above this, funding will go to local authorities for disbursement locally.

The Committee considered whether the new system will ensure that the varied rate of the LHA cap will not adversely affect tenants and providers in low-value parts of the country. It examined how existing tenants will be protected following the switch and asked whether the changes should be piloted.

The inquiry also looked at the effect that uncertainty about the new model is having on the sector and explores whether separate funding models are needed for refuges and other short-term supported housing services, or sheltered housing services for the elderly, which would require a higher cap.

How the localised funding pots would work, including how the money will be ring-fenced and which factors should be used to determine an areas allocation, are also investigated by the Committees.

The Committees invited written submissions on the following areas via the inquiry webpage:

  • Whether separate funding models are needed for:

    • refuges and other short-term supported housing services

    • sheltered housing services for the elderly (these services would require a higher cap)

  • How the localised funding pot for supported housing would work, including:
    • how it will be ring-fenced
    • which factors should be used to determine local allocations
  • How existing supported and sheltered housing tenants will be protected following their transfer in April 2019.
  • The effects of uncertainty about the new funding model on tenants and development in the supported housing sector.
  • Whether the new system should be piloted before its full implementation.
  • Whether the new system will resolve the shortfall in supported housing placements over the long term.
  • Whether the new system will ensure that the varied rate of the LHA cap will not adversely affect tenants and providers in low-value parts of the country.
  • What alternatives there are to the LHA cap, such as a supported housing cap and a sheltered housing cap.
  • The relative effects of different funding model options on tenants.
  • What steps should be taken to mitigate the effects of the 1% rent cut.
  • How the LHA cap will affect pensioners.
  • Whether housing benefit acts as a disincentive to work.

The deadline for written submissions was Friday 3 February 2017.

The link to the Inquiry webpage can be found here.

The IRRV response can be found here

 

Rates Rethink Northern Ireland [Extent: Northern Ireland]

The Northern Ireland Rates Rethink proposals are the biggest package of reforms to the Northern Ireland rates system for a generation. They are intended to bring in a modern, fairer rates system, which encourages regeneration, investment and entrepreneurship, while at the same time discourages dereliction and decline.

They have three underlying objectives. Firstly, to spread the burden wider, secondly to be more discerning with the application of reliefs and allowances and finally, to use the rating system as a lever of social and economic development.

The proposed measures include:

  • A new £22million a year Rates Investment Scheme for smaller retail and hospitality business
  • Piloting Business Empowerment Zones in two areas (Lower Newtownards and Lower Falls Roads)
  • Increasing rates on empty commercial properties
  • Charity shops to make a contribution
  • Charging the highest value homes more
  • Removing the early payment discount
  • Reducing landlord allowances
  • Student halls of residence to start paying rates
  • A 3 year rates holiday for first residents of new energy efficient homes

The Rates Rethink consultation closed on 16th February 2017 and can be found at Rates Rethink consultation

The IRRV response can be found here

The Welsh Government white paper ‘Reforming local government: Resilient and renewed’ [Extent: Wales]

This white paper is the Welsh Government’s statement of intent about the future of local government in Wales.

The Welsh Government is consulting on proposals which:

  • set out arrangements for regional working
  • strengthen the role of councils and councillors
  • provide the framework for future voluntary mergers
  • detail the role of community councils.

Views are also sought on reform to the electoral system for local government in Wales.

The consultation closed on 11th April 2017 and the consultation paper can be found at https://consultations.gov.wales/consultations/reforming-local-government-resilient-and-renewed