Expert advice on housing

The LGA has been helping councils find the expertise they need to tackle local housing challenges.

The LGA’s Housing Advisers Programme (HAP) is an innovative scheme to help councils overcome housing challenges in their local areas and meet the housing needs of local communities.

It is a key part of the LGA’s sector-led improvement offer, which delivers robust peer challenges and support to help councils improve performance, become more efficient and effective in delivering for their local residents, and share good practice.

The HAP has been supporting councils since 2017, by providing grants to secure independent expert advice to drive forward locally led solutions to the housing issues facing their communities.

In the previous three years of the programme, the LGA has funded more than 100 projects across England, helping councils build homes, reduce homelessness and rough sleeping, plan for ageing populations, explore the potential of zero-carbon housing, understand the student housing market, increase the supply of modular housing, and more (see panel, right).

With an additional focus for 2020-21 on addressing the impact of COVID-19 on the housing crisis, the projects put forward by this year’s 17 successful applicants include developing carbon-neutral homes, delivering custom and self-build housing, redesigning homelessness prevention services to address the impacts of COVID-19, and delivering affordable housing through the use of modern methods of construction (MMC).

After the programme, knowledge and expertise learned and developed will be shared with other councils and become part of the LGA’s sector-led improvement offer.

HAP has delivered huge benefits to councils since it was first launched, and proven an excellent source of knowledge and expertise for councils – sharing innovative ideas and ways to improve, whether it’s building new homes, tackling homelessness, or planning thriving and flourishing places and economies.

HAP highlights

Suffolk Coastal District Council appointed consultants to identify the opportunities and issues presented by the increase in affordable home-ownership properties that will result from the Suffolk Coastal Local Plan. 

A ‘Findings and Options Report’ was produced that has provided an evidence base for the production of a separate strategy document. The research has highlighted a preference for shared ownership rather than shared equity. This was an important lesson as the expectation before the study was that shared equity should be the council’s target.

Consultants gave strategic support to Derbyshire Dales District Council through the development of a business case to help meet one of its key corporate objectives – to identify and deliver new affordable housing sites, and improve housing for vulnerable people, through the direct delivery of new council homes on available council land and through pursuing Section 106 opportunities. The project demonstrated that a national perspective and understanding of the housing market can be combined with a detailed local perspective to develop a well-evidenced and balanced project business case.  

The London Borough of Havering commissioned a report to understand the current needs and pressures across children and adults’ social care services, and estimate the future accommodation needs for looked-after children, care leavers, and children and adults with disabilities. 

The report has brought together social care, housing and regeneration to offer the opportunity to develop a joint vision and approach to supported living and the pathways to supporting greater independence – in part through further developing the wider accommodation offer. The work has moved the discussions forward and opened up further dialogue with colleagues across multiple disciplines, such as the local NHS, public health, education, planning and community safety.

For more information about the Housing Advisers Programme, please visit www.local.gov.uk/housingadvisersprogramme or email housingadvisers@local.gov.uk. For the LGA’s sector-led improvement offer and support for councils, see www.local.gov.uk/our-support.

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