Industry Intel

December Industry News Headline Round-Up; Property, Environmental Health & Housing.

Tina Ledger

Graphic Designer

Jul 27, 2022

This December hasn’t just been a time for relaxing and celebrating – there has also been a lot of movement in the housing industry!

More funds have been pledged to help combat homelessness in both Scotland and England, and the government and local councils continue to push for lower carbon emissions, both from switching to vegan food or ensuring houses are extra energy-efficient.

In other news, the rapidly spreading Covid-19 variant, Omicron, may disrupt the building supply chain and force companies to rely on imports of bricks and blocks to bridge the gap. The government is also planning to support those in the hospitality and leisure industry hit by Omicron with more business loans and grants.

Scotland Pledges Extra £16m to Combat Homelessness

Scotland’s local authorities will receive an extra £16m in funding to combat homelessness in a move announced on the 4th of January. The money will be awarded over the next two financial years and will be used to help move homeless people from temporary accommodation to permanent homes.

This move makes the total invested for Scotland in rapid rehousing £53.5m. Housing secretary Shona Robison stated that this move would help councils quickly provide safe, settled accommodation for the homeless population in temporary housing.

For more information, click here.

Council Serves Vegan Food To Tackle Carbon Emissions

In a recent move, Oxfordshire County Council has agreed to serve vegan meals at formal events to reduce their carbon footprint. The motion acknowledged that the meat and dairy industry is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and that reducing intake can help combat climate change.

If the cabinet agrees, all catered events hosted by the council will switch to a plant-based menu. The school meals service will also have vegan menus available two days per week as part of their regular offer.

For more information, click here.

Landlords Selling Properties May Raise Housing Waiting Lists

A recent survey by the District Councils Network has found that an increased number of landlords selling or converting their properties into Airbnb’s puts significant pressure on housing waiting lists. 48% of councils surveyed reported a rise in waiting lists, with the problem being worse for councils in tourist hotspots.

Some councillors think that this problem may worsen as an increasing number of tenants require housing support due to increased evictions. The Eviction Ban put into place to mitigate the effects of Covid-19 has recently ended, meaning that tenants with rent in arrears are being consistently evicted.

Councillors have proposed that at least 100,000 social homes for rent could be built per year, a move that would take the pressure off council housing waiting lists. Other districts ask the Government to raise the housing benefit for tenants in private rented accommodation and increase the council housing investment.

For more information, click here.

Reorganisation Master Plan Leaked

The Levelling Up White Paper was recently leaked, revealing plans to change the two-tier local government system. The paper outlined plans for a more straightforward local government structure across defined economic geography.

The paper was originally planned to be released in December 2021, but some sources state that it was delayed due to a dispute between the Department of Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities and Number Ten.

For more information, click here.

Extra Funding Granted To Support Businesses Affected By Omicron

The Government has pledged an extra £100m to help local businesses affected by the Omicron variant of Covid-19. Chancellor Rishi Sunak stated that the funding came as the hospitality and leisure sectors face uncertainty because of the rapidly spreading variant, with many suffering losses as their staff take sick leave and self-isolate.

Councillor Shaun Davies, the Local Government Association’s Resources Board chair, has said that the grants are a lifeline for businesses. Councils will work to allocate funding to different companies and support people in the community.

For more information, click here.

£316m Extra Funding Granted to Combat Homelessness

The Government has announced a £316m Homelessness Prevention Grant, with funding allocated to councils according to homelessness in their area. Local authorities will use the money to support households who risk losing their home or are already homeless.

Councils will assist those struggling with housing to find a new home, access support, and secure temporary accommodation. This funding also includes an extra £5.8m to help those forced into homelessness by domestic violence and abuse.

The minister for rough sleeping, Eddie Hughes, stated that the funding will help thousands across England as well as helping to prevent homelessness before it begins. Jon Sparkes, the chief executive of homeless charity Crisis, said that then funding was very welcome and that it was even more important that funding was available due to the increase in domestic violence during lockdowns.

For more information, click here.

Highest Number of Council Homes Built in London Since the 1970s

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has announced that a total of 4,689 new council homes were started in 2020-2021, totalling the highest number of council homes built in the capital since the 1970s. More than three-quarters of the council homes have received the Mayor’s financial support.

Sadiq Khan has stated that the homebuilding initiative had breathed new life into the construction of council homes and that the 2020s will bring many more new, green homes that will house generations to come.

For more information, click here.

Sadiq Khan Launches Large Scale Project to Re-Wild London

£600,000 has been allocated to help preserve many Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINCs) across London. The fund will help to support approximately twenty to thirty of these sites, in addition to the half that is being conserved.

Mayor Khan stated that England is one of the most nature depleted countries in the world, and action is needed to increase biodiversity and restore natural wildlife sites. In addition to the fund, Mayor Khan announced an additional £300,000 to fund forty Keeping it Wild traineeships for young people in London aged 16 to 25. These traineeships will primarily be available to young Black, Asian, and minority ethnic Londoners and those from areas of economic deprivation.

The London Wildlife Trust has said that these traineeships are excellent springboards into a career in wildlife conservation and will support young people who face barriers and may struggle to break into the industry.

For more information, click here.

Omicron Variant May Lead to Material Shortages

The Construction Leadership Council (CLC) has reported that the rapidly spreading Covid-19 variant, Omicron, may lead to more material supply issues in 2022. Despite precautions taken by both merchants and manufacturers, the CLC expects pressure on supply chains to return.

This warning comes as part of a joint statement from the Builder’s Merchants Federation chief executive, John Newcomb, and Construction Products Association chief executive Peter Caplehorn. The seasonal decline in construction has led to improved material supplies, but this may be swept away in the new year as more construction begins.

Bricks and blocks have been named the products most at risk, as rising energy prices make them highly expensive to produce. Therefore, imports may need to make up the expected shortfall, possibly until 2023.

For more information, click here.

Firm Linked to Grenfell Tower Fire Banned from Housing Scheme

Rydon Homes, a company linked to the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower, has recently been suspended from the Help to Buy scheme run by the government. Their sister company, Rydon Maintenence, was the lead contractor on the tower refurbishment and has been axed from marketing their homes to new buyers and receiving government-backed loans.

This marks the latest move by the Housing Secretary, Michael Gove, to answer questions about the tragedy and bring justice for the families and survivors affected. This decision also came days after he welcomed Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 ending their partnership with Kingspan, a cladding firm that has links to the fire.

Seventy-two people lost their lives in the Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017. An investigation confirmed that the exterior of the building did not meet regulations, which was the main reason the fire spread so quickly. The government investigation into this tragedy is still ongoing.

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New Buildings to Reduce Carbon Emissions by 30%

Revised building regulations mean that new homes must reduce their carbon emissions by around one third. This recent move from the government aims to improve the energy efficiency of homes and plan for a carbon-neutral future.

The move is set to come into force in June 2022, allowing companies to plan for the transition. It was received moderately by those in the industry, with RIBA president Simon Allford praising the plan as taking the industry one step closer towards decarbonisation.

Additional funding has been provided in recent years to assist with the government goal of becoming carbon neutral. In April 2021, a coalition of architects and climate groups wrote to the government, stating that they must be more ambitious in their plans to regulate the energy usage of new buildings.

For more information, click here.

Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors Rejects Government Suggestions

The Royal Institue of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has officially rejected the government calls to scrap EWS1 checks on buildings under eighteen metres tall. This comes after a five-month review after many lenders and stakeholders were consulted, with results showing that most people felt the ESW1 checks to be the best way to maintain property lending.

The ESW1 process requires a professional to check whether a building has combustible material. If this is found, the form shows banks that it needs to be solved, making mortgages harder to acquire. The current guidance requires buildings of four storeys or higher to have an ESW1 check if they are clad in aluminium composite material, metal composite cladding, or high-pressure laminate. If a building is five or six storeys high, it must be checked per ESW1 if they include these materials or if 25% of the building or more has cladding.

The board decided to keep the current rules to help safeguard the public and help buyers avoid potentially crippling expenses related to the cladding. However, many leaseholders will be impacted by this decision and may be stuck in their homes, unable to sell because of the cladding issue.

A spokesperson from the Department of Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities stated that they were disappointed in RICS and expect them to work with lenders to protect leaseholders.

For more information, click here.

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Graphic Designer

Tina Ledger

Being such a people person makes Tina exceptionally good at her job. She not only can relate to most people in one way or another, but she also genuinely enjoys hearing about other people’s experiences. Couple that with her creativity, resilience and ability to flourish under pressure, and you’ve got yourself a cracking Graphic Designer.

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