Housing Advisers Programme: helping councils meet housing needs of their area

The Housing Advisers Programme has been designed to help councils meet the housing need of their local area. Flexible and locally-led, the new programme funds an independent expert for up to 20 days, providing bespoke support to a local authority project to deliver homes, reduce homelessness, or generate savings or revenues. Applications for 2017/18 programme are closed, we will publish details of the 2018/19 programme in due course.

Most partners now acknowledge that the housing market is broken, and needs fixing. The housing crisis is forcing difficult choices on families, distorting places, hampering growth, and putting untold pressure on local authority services and budgets.

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; and as democratically accountable to communities – local government is at the heart of the solution.

There is impressive innovation emerging across local government's housing activities, and the LGA wants to increasingly help promote, facilitate and enhance the role and capacity of local authorities to meet local housing need. This is the ambition of the Housing Advisers Programme

The Housing Advisers Programme funds the provision of an independent adviser offering bespoke expert support to local authorities for a specific project working to deliver homes, reduce homelessness, or generate savings or revenues.

In supporting a local authority to deliver a project, the adviser might provide assistance scoping out the project; identifying skills need; technical expertise; relationship development; advising on delivery etc.

Participating local authorities and will be asked to write up their experiences in undertaking the project and its impact for the benefit of sharing the learning across the sector, and participate in learning events and other activities as appropriate.

The programme will coordinate and oversee the delivery of projects and their outcomes, and integrate findings and learning into the LGA's wider improvement offer.

Warwick’s student housing strategy
Warwick District Council is using their adviser to develop an innovative Student Housing Strategy. The area has a growing and vibrant student population that is causing an impact on the housing market. The project will allow the council to understand expected population projections and establish an appropriate balance between purpose-built accommodation and student HMOs. This will allow them to manage the impact of student growth on the availability of private rented sector homes for the non-student population and help the council meet their housing needs
Establishing a homelessness referral system with partners in Northumberland
In preparation for the Homelessness Reduction Act, Northumberland County Council are using their adviser to evaluate their current review and referral processes. Their adviser will support the development of protocols and a pilot referral system to ensure that it covers all the people who the new duties apply to, including those considered ‘non-priority’. This will be rolled out across the Homelessness and Housing Options Service, other council departments, partner agencies and other statutory bodies. The project will strengthen working with institutions such as prisons and hospitals, to ensure that councils are notified in advance of release and be best prepared to prevent homelessness.

Unlocking permitted development in Test Valley
Test Valley Borough Council’s adviser is helping to unlock a permitted residential development on a former brewery site within Romsey. The site has had a long and complex planning history and attempts to build housing have stalled. The adviser is exploring the options available to the council to bring forward delivery of 200 much needed homes on the site. During the project, it has been established that there is scope for unlocking other permitted residential development sites in neighbouring authorities, thereby increasing the number of new homes being built.