Housing Strategy Action Plan Review

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					Housing Strategy Action Plan 2007-2010
           Summary Report
         Strategic Housing Service
1) Introduction
The introduction to the current Housing Strategy – Housing in Sheffield 2007-
10 - outlined some of the most testing challenges that the city was facing in
2007: building more homes; improving the range of homes; driving up the
quality of our housing and neighbourhoods; and tackling the affordability
problem. In the Strategy’s accompanying Action Plan key targets were
outlined for tackling these and other priorities over the Strategy’s three-year
lifespan. However, during this time the country has experienced a credit
crunch and economic downturn, which has had serious implications for
housing markets nationwide including Sheffield’s. It has also had a significant
impact on a number of the key targets contained within Sheffield’ Housing
Strategy Action Plan.

This report provides an overview of what has been achieved in meeting the
targets set out in the Action Plan, now that the current Strategy approaches
the end of its lifespan, and also some of the lessons that can be learnt as we
prepare to start work on a new Housing Strategy for Sheffield. More detailed
information on the progress made for each of the targets in the Action Plan is
contained within the Housing Strategy Action Plan 2007 – 2010 Progress
Update document, which will be made available on the Council’s website.

2) The Action Plan
The Action Plan reflects the structure of the Housing Strategy, which is based
around the following three themes: Successful Housing Markets, Successful
Neighbourhoods, and Independence and Inclusion. Therefore each of the
thirty-two key targets contained within the original Action Plan is related to one
of these three themes. The targets encompass both outputs (such as building
specific numbers of affordable homes) and outcomes (such as driving up the
housing management standards across the social rented sector).

 3) Completed and on Track Targets
Despite the unfavourable market conditions the following targets have been
completed in full or are on target to meet their objectives within their original
timescales.
Completed Targets:
 Set up first Multi Area Agreement in the Region: The MAA was set up and
    is now in operation.
 Maintaining an up to date understanding of the city’s housing market and
    monitoring trends over time: Our Housing Market Assessment was
    refreshed in 2009/10 and has allowed us to gain a better understanding of
    the effects the credit crunch and economic downturn have had on the
    city’s housing market. Processes are also in place to monitor the level of
    vacant properties in the city centre. Research into rural housing was also
    completed in autumn 2009 and has informed our draft Rural Communities
    Strategy, which is due to be submitted for cabinet approval in 2010.
 Improving our understanding of the private rented sector and the impact of
    migrant workers on the housing market: A sub-region private sector
    research project was completed and Transform South Yorkshire is in the
    process of drawing up an action plan (due for completion in June 2010)
    which will then be implemented.


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  Securing ever better performance from Housing Associations on
   nominations through our new joint protocol with the Housing Corporation:
   Performance on nominations is now routinely monitored at the Strategic
   Housing Forum and the agreed target for 50% of Housing Association
   properties to be let to people nominated by the Council is being met.
 Develop improved service provision for chronically excluded adults groups:
   The Commissioning Plan was agreed by Cabinet in 2009 and supported
   accommodation for this group is now included in the investment and
   resource plan which sets out future housing capital investment needs.
 Complete a Health Impact Assessment of the Housing Strategy: A Health
   Impact Assessment has been completed and work is now underway to
   look at the impacts of housing investment on health budgets and better
   ways for co-ordinating investment that will bring about better health for
   local residents.
 Agree a sub regional Gypsy and Traveller Housing Strategy, based on the
   recently completed Accommodation Assessment: A work plan and bidding
   priorities have been developed and agreed by the sub-regional Council
   leaders. Sheffield has also made two successful bids for funding to
   improve the quality of our sites.
On Track Targets:
 6,800 more homes made decent by transfer landlords: The Housing
   Associations report that all the transferred properties will have achieved
   decency by 2010/11.
 Expanding our portfolio of energy schemes targeted at private sector
   housing: Approximately 10,500 households will have been signed up by
   the end of March 2010 for advice on Affordable Warmth and energy
   conservation. By early March 2010 1,679 cavities and 4,999 lofts will have
   either been insulated or are in the process of being insulated. The
   Affordable Warmth team are still confident of meeting the original targets
   even though the programme has been condensed into two years rather
   than three as originally envisaged.
 Supporting Sheffield Homes to expand the range of services it delivers to
   tenants and residents: We agree a new Delivery Action Plan with Sheffield
   Homes annually, which is monitored quarterly. An example of service
   expansion in 2009-10 is the ‘Your Community Your Choice’ initiative,
   where Sheffield Homes have assisted local people to allocate £600,000 to
   fund over 50 local projects to address community needs.

4) Targets Impacted by the Credit Crunch & Economic Downturn
Since 2007 the United Kingdom has experienced a ‘credit crunch’ which has
made borrowing money much more difficult and costly. This has contributed to
a downturn in the housing market, which has been compounded by a global
economic recession. House building both nationally and locally has dropped
considerably, driven by the difficulties that households have in accessing
mortgages and a fall in house prices that has made new build developments
less viable for builders. Delivery on all of the following targets has been
directly affected by these factors:
  Increasing the provision of affordable homes by a minimum of 50%: Due
    to the downturn the Government Office for Yorkshire and the Humber has
    recommended to Ministers a revised Local Area Agreement target for


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    Sheffield that is 60.5% of the original target for affordable homes built over
    2008/11. Nevertheless, 511 new affordable homes have been delivered
    2008/10 (against the original target of 665 for this period).
   Narrowing the property value gap between our Housing Market Renewal
    Areas and the city average by a further 10%: We were comfortably on
    course to meet this target until the downturn, which has affected the
    weakest housing markets most of all. Consequently house prices in the
    HMR areas began falling at a greater rate than in other parts of the city
    and we are now currently slightly off track to achieve this target by the
    original deadline of the end of 2010/11.
   Approaching completion of Phase 1 of the Park Hill redevelopment: The
    economic downturn delayed the start of this project, causing it to be
    behind the original schedule but it is now underway with phase one of the
    external works due to be completed by April 2011.
   Delivering new homes at high standards, including Building for Life, Eco
    Homes, Lifetime Homes and Secured by Design at all developments in
    the HMR areas: Due to the economic downturn the target of 1378 higher
    standard homes delivered by 2010/11 has had to be revised down to 447.
    Nevertheless 171 higher quality homes were delivered in HMR areas in
    2008/9 and 116 in 2009/10 with another 160 planned for 2010/11.
   Enabling 4,450 low-income homeowners to improve their homes: A
    reduction in Housing Market Renewal funding and Regional Housing
    Board allocations contributed to the target not being achieved in full, but
    we have still been able to help 3,623 homeowners with loans.

5) Adjusted Targets Due to Changing Requirements
Almost inevitably over the three years some of the targets in the Action Plan
have had to be adjusted to reflect changes in requirements and in response to
newly arising issues. The following targets are examples of these:
 Expand provision of extra care housing by 4 schemes: This target has
   had to be partly adjusted due to the downturn but also because of a
   revaluation of how to best deliver older persons housing in one of the four
   areas. Two of the schemes have now been completed, whilst the third is
   under review due to the condition of the housing market. In the fourth
   case, it has been decided to develop the older persons housing as part of
   a wider piece of work taking place in that area (Stocksbridge).
 Guiding the future developments of the city centre housing market, using
   findings from the DTZ Pieda City Centre Housing Market report: The
   decision was taken not to develop a separate City Centre Housing Market
   Strategy in line with comments of auditors and inspectors about the high
   number of separate strategies the Service has. It was therefore agreed by
   the Service’s Senior Management Team that the strategy for the city
   centre should be included within the new overarching Housing Strategy
   for Sheffield, due to be completed this year.
 39,000 Council homes made decent: The Decent Homes programme has
   been extended to include 5-7,000 extra properties which need
   improvement but which for there is no extra Government funding. By the
   end of 2010 the Council expects 35,500 properties to have been made
   decent, achieving a decency rate of 92%. By the new end date of the



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    programme in 2013/14 in excess of 39,000 council homes will have been
    improved.
   Improve 29 sheltered housing schemes to the decency standard: The
    original target didn’t sufficiently take account of the need to programme
    this work around the needs of vulnerable older people. As with the wider
    Decency programme, the timeline for this target has therefore also been
    extended to 2013/14.
   Develop and implement an enhanced programme of work aimed at
    tackling worklessness in social housing areas: The development of a joint
    action plan for the largest RSLs to tackle worklessness was affected by
    the refusal of a joint bid for monies to fund Link Workers. This refusal also
    had an impact on the delivery of another of the targets – Driving up the
    housing management standards across the social rented sector.
    However, each of the RSLs has an individual plan in place for tackling
    worklessness and the Council chairs the Strategic Employment Group,
    which brings together social landlords and employment specialists to
    improve tenants’ access to employability services.
   Establish a 5-year plan for the provision of new build supported housing:
    The decision to develop a Joint Prevention Strategy made the review of
    the Older Peoples Housing Strategy (one of the sub actions for this target)
    redundant.
   Provide 4 high quality replacement schemes for people with learning
    disabilities: One of the schemes is no longer required as accommodation
    will be provided for residents through existing properties. The other
    schemes were affected at various times by funding refusals, planning
    permission refusal (causing one of the schemes to be re-sited) and
    alternative accommodation having to be sought for people living in the
    schemes that were being demolished. These three remaining schemes
    are progressing and due to be completed in March 2011 (against an
    original target date of 2010).
   Achieve target of reducing use of temporary accommodation by 50%: The
    lack of progress initially made in achieving this target has required
    significant action to be taken. Changes were made to the Housing
    Solutions service and a Temporary Accommodation Action Plan has been
    put in place. In addition, a new Homeless Strategy, which also aims to
    reduce the use of temporary accommodation, is due to be considered by
    Cabinet. Good progress on this target is now being made but the original
    timeline will need to be extended to achieve this target in full.

 6) Targets Linked to Major Capital & Neighbourhood Projects
Some of the key targets in the Action Plan relate to large-scale projects,
including the regeneration of Housing Market Renewal areas. These are
frequently complex with numerous sub targets and slippage in some areas is
almost inevitable. Nevertheless, there has been considerable progress made
in achieving the main objectives for most of these large projects:
 Mainstreaming our Liveability pilot to drive up environmental maintenance
    standards
    A four-month pilot project based on the liveability model of bringing
    services together to work as one team is underway and customer
    satisfaction will be analysed to see if this approach should be adopted by


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      the Council for maintaining open spaces in the future. Other capital works
      have also been successfully completed but the third phase, dependent on
      the sale of an adjacent site, has been delayed due to the market downturn
      although other elements continue to be progressed.
     Completing the regeneration of 5 local neighbourhood centres in the
      Housing Market Renewal Areas
      Elements of this project such as the completion of Longley Four Green
      Centre and Herries Road Centre were achieved on time and others are in
      progress and on schedule. However, other elements have been delayed
      due to a variety of reasons: delays in financial approval; SCC being unable
      to acquire an adjacent site; alternative engagement approaches having to
      be devised; and dependency on further progress being made with the Park
      Hill project.

     7) Lessons Learnt
    As the current Housing Strategy Action Plan approaches the end of its
    lifespan there are a number of lessons that can be drawn from its
    implementation and which should be used to inform future action plans:
  i) With outcome-based targets it is often more difficult to measure their
       progress and determine whether they have fully met their objectives or not.
       Consequently, more effort needs to be made with these type of targets to
       describe what success will ‘look like’ and how it will be measured. The use
       of sub targets that are largely output-based could be one way to help make
       this type of target more ‘robust’.
 ii) The credit crunch and economic downturn illustrated the fact that flexibility
       needs to be exercised towards future targets over the lifespan of an action
       plan. Fairly rapid changes in the housing market and wider social, political
       and economic environment can necessitate the adjustment of targets or in
       extreme cases their replacement altogether. Therefore individual targets
       should be reviewed to ensure that they are still relevant, desirable and
       achievable during the action plan’s regular monitoring and review process.
iii) Success in bidding for external funds and grants cannot always be relied on
       for delivering projects. Potential ways to minimise the impact of
       unsuccessful funding bids include:
      Avoiding reliance on single funding streams and grants where possible
      Maximising opportunities to work with partners to pool funding and gain
          access to additional grants and funding streams
      Outlining alternative funding streams and strategies in the funding plans
          for projects
    Depending on the result of the upcoming General Election, it is possible that
    the Third Sector will be given greater responsibility (and funding) to deliver
    some public services in the future. This will accentuate the need for us to work
    more closely with our partners in this sector to deliver our objectives for the
    city’s housing offer.
iv) It is almost inevitable that some elements of large complex projects
       (particularly new build capital projects) are likely to slip against original
       timescales. However, the various issues that have affected the delivery of
       some elements of our larger projects serves to underline the importance of
       routinely using best practice risk analysis and management tools in the
       management of all of our projects.


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  8) The New Housing Strategy & Action Plan
  We have made considerable progress in achieving many of the aims and
  objectives of the current Housing Strategy. However, due to a variety of
  factors, outlined in this report, it will be necessary to carry over a number of
  the current targets into the new Strategy and Action Plan. Current housing
  market conditions also dictate that important choices will need to be made on
  priorities, as it is unlikely that developers and other partners will be able to
  help us to fully deliver the ambitious targets that we have previously set
  ourselves in some key areas. Outlined below are some of the issues that the
  new Strategy and Action Plan will need to take account of:

 i) Affordable Housing / Higher Standard Homes
   We still need to deliver much more affordable housing and homes built to
   higher environmental and sustainable standards, in order to meet the needs
   of an increasingly diverse and ageing population. However, this will be difficult
   to achieve within the current housing market. This has been illustrated over
   the past year, with developers being much more cautious about the economic
   viability of delivering higher standard housing, including higher environmental
   sustainability standards and properties for affordable rent or sale in the face of
   current land values and market conditions. The new Housing Strategy and
   Action Plan will need to take account of this challenge. Our targets for new
   affordable housing and higher standard homes will therefore need to reflect
   this. Difficult decisions will need to be made on priorities and how these are
   to be delivered on each development site.

ii) Decent Homes Programme
   The need to extend the city’s Decent Homes programme until 2014 means
   that the new Strategy and Action Plan will need to outline how we intend to
   conclude the programme (taking account of the fact that no additional
   Government funding is available for the additional properties), including the
   improvement of the remaining sheltered housing schemes not yet brought up
   to the Sheffield Decent Homes Standard. The Strategy will also need to
   consider how we intend to maintain the quality of council housing and
   services in future years within the context of emerging proposals for a self-
   financing Housing Revenue Account.

iii) Older Peoples’ Accommodation
    The city has an increasingly ageing population and this long-term trend will
    need to be reflected in future housing strategies and action plans. A review of
    our Older Peoples Housing Strategy did not take place during the lifespan of
    the current Strategy because of the decision to develop a Joint Prevention
    Strategy, which is due to be delivered in March 2012. It will therefore be
    necessary to look at the implications of this Strategy for the new Housing
    Strategy and identify how we can meet the housing needs of older people in
    the new Strategy and Action Plan. The Action Plan will also need to include
    our targets for housing and services for older people in Stockbridge and
    Deepcar, based on the current consultations taking place.




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iv) City Centre Strategy
   The decision not to develop a separate city centre housing strategy (in line
   with recommendations from inspectors to try and reduce the number of
   individual strategies we have in place) means that the new Housing Strategy
   and Action Plan will need to set out our ambitions for city centre
   neighbourhoods. We will need to build on recent and current research into the
   city’s housing market, levels of under occupancy and the condition of private
   stock to develop a clear vision for the city centre.

 v) Local Centres
   We are in the early stages of developing our Thriving Districts and Local
   Centres programme, and local residents are now being consulted on what
   their priorities are for developing inclusive and integrated local centres. The
   new Strategy and Action Plan will need to incorporate the aims and objectives
   of this project once they are clarified through further consultation and analysis.

vi) Local Housing Company
   The Local Housing Company is due to be established in December 2010 and
   will begin delivering new homes by March 2011. The new Strategy and Action
   Plan will need to outline our vision for the company and what its key aims and
   objectives are for the next few years.

vii) Temporary Accommodation & Homelessness
    The new Housing Strategy and Action Plan will need to outline our targets for
    reducing households in temporary accommodation and levels of
    homelessness. The latter should including targets for our new service for
    supporting access for non priority homeless people into the private sector.

viii) Making the Best Use of Existing Stock
     The new Housing Strategy and Action Plan will need to outline how we intend
     to make the best use of the city’s existing stock, including our targets for
     addressing overcrowding and under occupancy, the private rented sector and
     the performance of social landlords.

ix) Enabling Home Owners to Improve Their Homes
   The new Housing Strategy and Action Plan will need to outline how we intend
   to continue enabling home owners to improve their homes, including help to
   improve energy efficiency, reduce carbon footprints, and provide loans to low-
   income homeowners.

 x) Environmental Standards
   Preparation for the new Strategy and Action Plan should consider the lessons
   that have been learnt from our current schemes and pilot projects for raising
   environmental maintenance standards. We will then need to identify what new
   targets we need to set ourselves for improving environmental standards in our
   neighbourhoods.

xi) Supporting Vulnerable People
   The new Housing Strategy and Action Plan will need to outline how we will
   continue to support our most vulnerable residents, including our targets for


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  supported housing and the completion of the remaining replacement schemes
  for people with learning disabilities.

xii) Healthy Housing
    We are currently working with Health partners on the relative costs and
    benefits of investing in Sheffield’s housing stock to mitigate common hazards
    to the health of residents. Dependent on the outcomes of this work, new
    projects and targets for inclusion in the new Housing Strategy and Action may
    need to be considered.

  9) Summary
  The credit crunch and economic downturn have had a serious impact on a
  large number of the targets within the Action Plan. Other circumstances and
  changing requirements have also affected the delivery of a number of other
  targets. However, in nearly all cases considerable progress has been made,
  despite the challenging conditions. There is therefore a strong foundation on
  which the new Housing Strategy and Action Plan can be built. Lessons can
  also learnt from the implementation and monitoring of the current Action Plan.
  However, one of the key challenges we now face is to create an action plan
  for the new Housing Strategy that contains realistic and achievable targets
  within a challenging and uncertain environment but which will also help us to
  meet our long-term objectives for Sheffield’s housing offer. This will require a
  clear vision and some hard decisions on our future priorities.




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