The pandemic has shone a light on the value of the home, and the importance of this being a safe, secure, good quality place to live. Our local areas have never been more valuable to us than now and as we look forward, councils will be at the centre of delivering recovery locally in a way that has the greatest impact for their communities.
There was a significant nationwide housing crisis before COVID-19, and the virus has impacted on the national economy, including the delivery of new homes. A key part of delivering a recovery for all is more quality homes in the right places and the supporting infrastructure to create affordable, sustainable, resilient places.
The stark inequalities within our society have been highlighted by the pandemic, especially in health outcomes due to poor quality housing and a lack of green space. The existing housing challenges already facing individuals, couples and families have been exacerbated, growth ambitions hampered and there has been additional pressure on council services and budgets already facing significant financial strain.
There is a longer-term housing crisis because housing is often unavailable, unaffordable, built in the wrong places and not appropriate for those that need it. There are multi-faceted reasons for this, which vary significantly across the country. There is no simple single ‘English’ housing market. Instead housing markets vary considerably both between and within local authority areas and the housing need and demand profiles of different areas are perhaps even more varied. What this means is that the national housing debate is often over-simplified and lacks recognition that housing is a complex and interconnected system within the economy and society.
As housebuilders, housing enablers and landlords; as planners, place-shapers and agents of growth, transport and infrastructure; as responsible guardians to the vulnerable and the homeless; as democratically accountable leaders in the communities we serve – local government is at the heart of our housing solution. Councils share the collective national ambition to tackle their local housing crisis, and create great places for current and future generations.
There continues to be impressive innovation emerging across the breadth of local government’s housing activities and an ongoing emphasis from central government on the need to build homes. This includes an important acknowledgement of the role councils can play in achieving this.
The LGA wants to help promote, facilitate and enhance the role and capacity of councils to meet local housing need. This is the ambition of the Housing Advisers Programme (HAP), now in its fifth year.
The programme so far
The Housing Advisers Programme is designed to support councils by helping them meet their local housing needs. It aims to be simple, flexible and locally led.
In the previous four years of the Housing Advisers Programme we have funded over 125 projects to help councils build homes, reduce homelessness and rough sleeping, plan for ageing populations, improve the quality of the private rented sector, understand the student housing market, increase supply of modular housing and more. We have funded a diverse range of projects from a variety of councils to help assist and advise local authorities on real-time housing issues.
We continue to work hard to embed and share the learning from the programme through the creation of networks of participating councils, case study development and events.
For further details on the programme so far, our wider support offer to councils, including our recent toolkit for councils on how to improve standards in the private rented sector, please visit our Housing Advisers Programme webpage.
The offer to councils for 2021/22
The programme will continue to fund the provision of bespoke expert support to councils – or groups of councils - wanting to transform the delivery of homes and places, the quality and security of existing homes and/or to prevent and reduce homelessness. This year the programme will prioritise strategic housing projects that will support councils in the direct delivery of new housing.
For 2021/22 the programme will aim to:
- make a significant difference to the housing crisis
- build capacity in councils, so there is a lasting impact long after the Housing Advisers Programme funding ends
- ensure that projects can become sustainable in the longer term
- create learning about what works, so that the wider sector can benefit from the programme.
It will be for the council to ‘own’ the project, around which the advice would provide additional expert support in helping deliver transformation.
Successful councils will be awarded a grant to procure advice for the project, details of which will be discussed and agreed with the LGA.
The LGA will have a continuing role as part of the project governance.
The programme will coordinate and oversee projects, as well as integrate findings and learning into the LGA’s wider improvement offer.
We will support councils to lead and contribute to activities that enable the sharing of experiences across the sector through a learning programme which includes:
- pre-application support
- learning events
- an online learning hub.
Areas of support
Councils are invited to submit an application to the programme for adviser support with projects that would transform how they meet a local housing need.
The programme will fund ambitious projects seeking to improve outcomes. This might involve looking at:
- service design
- delivery operations
The projects might focus on opportunities to:
- directly build homes of the right mix of products, tenures and techniques
- support zero-carbon home ambitions
- meet housing and wider support needs of low-income families
- refresh homelessness services and partnerships to focus on prevention
- sustainably provide temporary accommodation
- proactively enable the development of the right types of homes to meet local need
- meet needs of groups at risk of homelessness to prevent it happening
- support improvements in the private rented sector
- improve the quality of existing housing
- reform the end to end planning process and the relationship with developers
- achieve fair returns to communities from planning gain
- empower council housing tenants.
Our ask is that the projects are innovative and meet the following principles:
- they are focused on local need and involve local people and partners
- they use and create evidence about what works well to address local need
- they will have a sustainable impact beyond the period of the funding.
Are you thinking about applying?
Large or small, urban or rural, we are looking for applications led by councils across England. The programme is open to councils at all levels, either individually or as a partnership. If you are forming a partnership of councils (and other organisations), a single council must lead the project.
What is essential is that prospective applications:
- tackle a local housing need challenge
- are led by a council but involve wider partners from across the public sector
- have corporate endorsement from the relevant lead officer(s) and/or portfolio holder(s)
- have the officer capacity to enable the project to succeed
- are open to the prospect of external input and challenge from their adviser
- are willing to share learning and experience from the programme with other councils.
Find out more and apply online
Applications open 12pm - 20 September2021
Applications close 5pm - 15 November 2021
Successful and unsuccessful applicants notified 6 December 2021
Signed grant agreement returned to LGA By 20 December 2021
Grant funding allocations paid within 3 weeks of return of signed agreement January
What if your project is not selected?
We want to ensure that the learning from this project reaches as many councils as possible, and all councils which submit an application will be invited to participate in the learning programme, which will be led and delivered by successful councils and the LGA.
In cases where commonalities are identified across a number of councils, we may suggest a joint solution or approach where appropriate. We will discuss this with you if this is the case.
We may also offer councils alternative support through another LGA programme, where appropriate.