Housing Advisers Programme 2019/20

The Housing Advisers Programme is designed to support councils seeking to innovate in meeting the housing needs of their communities.

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Successful applicants for the Housing Advisers Programme 2019 - 20 have now been announced. 

Background

There is a significant nationwide housing crisis; forcing difficult choices on families, distorting places, hampering growth, and putting untold pressure on local authority services and budgets. Ultimately there is a crisis because housing is often unavailable, unaffordable, and not appropriate for those that need it.

While there are a number of explanations for this, the reality is that housing markets are complex and interconnected systems, both within and with other parts of our economy and society, and they vary significantly around the country. 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 our communities – local government is at the heart of the solution.

There is impressive innovation emerging across local government’s housing activities and a renewed emphasis from central government on the need to build homes, which includes an 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.

The Programme

The Housing Advisers Programme is designed to support councils by helping them meet their local housing need. It aims to be simple, flexible, and locally-led.

In the previous two years of the Housing Advisers Programme we have funded over 100 councils to help councils build homes, reduce homelessness, plan for population ageing, understand the student housing market, increase supply of modular housing, and more.

We are now working hard to embed and share this learning, creating networks of participating councils, developing case studies, and arranging events. 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. For 2019/20, we want to support a smaller number of larger, strategic housing projects.

The programme will award up to £50,000 to each project for the purpose of securing expert advice in transforming how a service or partnership meets a housing need of communities. The programme will fund ambitious projects seeking to improve outcomes, this might involve looking at:

  • strategy
  • service
  • design delivery
  • operations workforce
  • partnership
How to apply

The Housing Advisers programme is now open for expressions of interest. Please email housingadvisers@local.gov.uk to request a form. The programme is open to all English councils, either individually or as a partnership. If you are forming a partnership of councils (and other organisations), a single council must lead the project. The deadline for submissions has now passed.

The LGA will use a panel to assess bids and as part of this process will engage with councils as necessary. Prospective applicants must:

  • have already agreed corporate buy-in/support from the relevant lead officer(s) and/or portfolio holder(s)
  • contribute to the project to ensure success
  • be open to the prospect of external input and challenge from their adviser
  • have the officer capacity to enable the project to succeed
  • share their learning with the LGA and others, supported by our learning programme

Each expression of interest must address each question directly, not exceeding a maximum word length of 500 words for each question.

  • What is the project for which you are seeking support and why is it important for your area?
  • How much funding are you seeking from the Housing Advisers Programme to secure expert advice for the project?
  • In what areas do you need support and how can the Housing Advisers Programme provide added value?
  • What are the anticipated timescales, milestones and key outputs for the project?
  • What will success look like? How will you measure the outcomes?
  • How will the project have a sustained impact beyond the period of funding?
  • How will the learning from your approach be transferrable to other councils?

The application must be signed off by the local authority’s leader and chief executive, or appropriate lead member and senior officer (including the S151 officer where there are financial implications).

HAP Webinar FAQ

If you have had an LGA adviser before will this disadvantage you in this round?
No, participation in previous years of the Housing Adviser’s Programme will not form part of the selection process for HAP 2019/20.

It sounds like the programme can fund different advisers with different skills on a single project – is that the case?
Yes. Successful councils will be awarded a grant through which to procure advice for the project. This could be used to fund more than one adviser as necessary.

Can the funding be used to fund preparatory surveys or is it just for planning advice?
Councils will need to demonstrate in their Expressions of Interest how funding from the Housing Advisers Programme will provide added value to their project that aims to transform how they meet a local housing need

Does the project have to deliver in a specific timeline?
In your Expression of Interest an estimated timeline of milestones should be documented, and we would expect effort to be made to keep to the timeline stated.  Ideally we would like projects to be concluded by July 31 2020, although this will depend on your project and circumstances.

Can the same project get funding from more than one LGA programme e.g. One Public Estate (OPE) and the Housing Advisers Programme (HAP)?
Yes, a project can receive funding from the Housing Advisers Programme even if it has received funding from another LGA programme. However, we will be looking for evidence in your Expression of Interest submission that the HAP funding is adding additional value to your project.

What is the process after the Expression of Interest has been submitted? Is there ny other documentation needed?   
The LGA will use a panel of experts to assess bids shortly after the closing date. As part of this process there may be a need to engage with councils on a case by case basis. We will endeavour to minimise requests for additional documentation.

We will inform councils who have submitted an Expression of Interest on the outcome of their submission no later than Friday 4 October.

Could three separate local authorities  working on a collaborative project all make an individual application if focused on different areas?
Yes.

If the full funding is not used by July next year. Are councils expected to return it to the LGA or can this roll over to the next year if the work continues?
Conditions of the grant agreement for successful councils and potential extensions to an agreement will need to be discussed and agreed with the LGA on a case by case basis.

If successful, what are the expectations relating to monitoring returns to check progress and delivery against agreed milestones?
The prospectus outlines that the LGA will have a continuing role as part of the project governance, which will enable us to monitor progress and delivery against agreed milestones and outputs.  

If successful, how long do you have to spend the money? Is there a time limit?
In your Expression of Interest an estimated timeline of milestones should be documented, and we would expect effort to be made to keep to the timeline stated.  Ideally we would like projects to be concluded by July 31 2020, although this will depend on your project and circumstances.

When do you find out if you were successful?
We will inform councils who have submitted an Expression of Interest on the outcome of their submission no later than Friday 4 October.

If successful, when can we start using the funding?
Grants will be awarded to successful councils as soon as the relevant paperwork has been signed by the LGA and the successful councils. We will start this process with successful councils from Monday 7 October.

Do you receive the money in one lump sum or small sums over a period? The grants for successful councils will be awarded in one lump sum.

Would you be able to advise whether a local authority can use this funding to resource contractual discussions?
Councils will need to demonstrate in their Expressions of Interest how funding from the Housing Advisers Programme will provide added value to their project that aims to transform how they meet a local housing need.