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Hear from Bob Blackman – the MP behind the Homelessness Reduction Act, Melanie Onn Shadow Housing Minister, Dawn Foster from the Guardian Newspaper, Juha Kaakinen – the inspiration behind Housing First in Finland which helped to massively reduce Homelessness. Book here.

 CIH Members receive 5 CIH CPD Hours for attendance. Sign up before 29th September to take advantage of our early bird rates!

Home Connections Annual conference is returning this year in style to celebrate our 15th anniversary!

Our speakers and afternoon workshops will help delegates to understand the Homelessness Reduction Act (HRA) how to stay within the law and discuss practical ways to implement the act whilst minimising administrative overheads.

Confirmed speakers:

  • Bob Blackman MP, Sponsor of the new Homelessness Reduction Act
  • Melanie Onn MP, Shadow Housing Minister. The HRA and beyond – what else should be done to help solve the problem of homelessness?
  • Dawn Foster, Columnist, The Guardian Newspaper – Just how bad is Britain’s social housing problem?
  • Juha Kaakinen, Chief Executive of the Y-Foundation in Finland – How Housing First significantly reduced homelessness in Finland
  • Alan Benson, Head of Housing Strategy and Commissioning, LB Haringey
  • Minos Perdios – Housing Reviews Manager at Housing Reviews
  • Patrick Odling-Smee – Director of Housing at Luton Borough Council

Date: 2nd of November ’1

Time: 8.45 am – 4.45 pm 

Venue: Hamilton House, Mabledon Pl, Kings Cross, London WC1H 9BJ

 Hear personal experiences of homelessness and take part in practical workshops which aim to provide an invaluable update on the HRA roadmap. Delegates will also witness practical examples of new approaches to homelessness and homelessness prevention. Our line-up of expert speakers and interactive workshops will provide insight, opinion and stimulate debate on the HRA. Benefit from real life experiences and projects that can help you to implement the HRA. Book your place today to benefit from early bird discounts.

Join colleagues for the plenary session and select your workshop stream to discuss your ideas and hear from others how they intend to implement the Act.

CIH Members receive 5 CIH CPD Hours for attendance.

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‘The new Homelessness Reduction Act makes it clear that the S188(1) duty can only be brought to an end once the relief duty has come to an end which means that there will be people staying much longer in interim accommodation than has been the case so far.’

It is no secret that the biggest challenge for local authorities with regards to meeting the needs of the Homelessness Reduction Act (HRA) is to decide what model will work.

Minos Perdios, of Housing Reviews Limited says: ‘For some local authorities it will be best to have one person deal with the prevention and relief stages and also assessing under the main duty criteria. However, for others it will best to split the service amongst multiple officers.  Whatever the model local authorities will need to engage the private rented sector, think outside the box when it comes to developing accommodation within their local area and forming non-traditional partnerships.’

Under the current system, if a single man approaches the Council claiming to suffer from mental health problems, the Council will accommodate him, as they have reason to believe that he is homeless, eligible and have a priority need. Currently, this is not causing any issues as local authorities can complete their enquiries fairly quickly and on issuing a S184 not in priority decision letter they can evict meaning that such applicants are only in interim accommodation for a few days. However, under the new system a local authority will not be able to evict until the relief duty comes to an end and this can be for as long as 56 days.

Therefore, if we continue following our current practices, we will see a significant increase in ‘live cases’, leading to a lot of applicants potentially having an open case with the local authority in excess of four months.

We need to ‘Think out of the box’ explains Minos, preventing homelessness and the need to accommodate under the main duty forces many authorities into thinking that ‘nothing will change’ due to lack of affordable housing in private rented sector. This is where we need to look for innovative solutions.

‘If I was a front-line officer, reviews officer or manager the thing that I would want from an IT system is for it to do almost everything for me! I would expect the system to guide me step by step through the requirements of the legislation, forcing me to cover all aspect of the legislation and helping me to ask the right questions and make the right enquiries to make a legally sound decision. I have found such a system in HOPE, the Homelessness Reduction Act software service delivered by Home Connections and Homefinder UK.’

‘It has been clear to me from the outset that Home Connections share the same passion and desire to create a unique IT programme that truly meets the needs of officers working in relation to the HRA. For that reason, Housing Reviews have decided to work with Home Connections to deliver software which will help to reduce workload of frontline staff.’

 

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A borough council is good to go with a new case management system pitched as easing administration of the Homelessness Reduction Act.

A borough council in Leicestershire will be the first English local authority to go live with HOPE, the Homeless Reduction Act (HRAct) software from Home Connections. The new case management software adopted by Oadby & Wigston Borough Council – and being readied to launch next month – is pitched as the future for easing administration, communications and reporting for local authorities in England and Wales.

The Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 is the biggest change in homelessness legislation since the 1977 Act was introduced. It proposes new duties such as the duty to provide advice and assistance, extended homelessness prevention to 56 days, new reporting requirements and much more. Local authorities will need to change their current working practices and deploy additional resources.

With that in mind, Home Connections has developed a fully configurable case management system with built in assessment and recording tools to help provide advice as well as accommodation options. Home Connections is a boutique software house developed as a not for profit service provider for the social housing sector owned and controlled by local authorities and housing associations with a brief to provide ‘best of breed’ technology and consultancy.

HOPE is aimed to ease the everyday tasks of housing officers from initial review, through assessment, personal housing planning and securing   accommodation or closing cases. Applicants can apply and manage their application online.

Home Connections’ national mobility scheme, Homefinder UK can also be supplied as part of the system to offer actual housing options for applicants wanting to move across borough boundaries.

Steve Nash, housing services manager at Oadby & Wigston Borough Council and CIH Member said:  “We are really excited to be working with Home Connections to deliver HOPE. “It is important to us to be prepared in advance of April 2018 for the increased pressure that this new legislation will place on our workload. “The act will change the way we prevent and relieve homelessness and so, we need to change the way we work and that will not happen overnight. “HOPE will be ready to go live in September, allowing us plenty of time to prepare for successful implementation of the act in April 2018.”

http://www.24housing.co.uk/news/software-offers-hope-to-the-homeless/

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Home Connections has partnered with Call Credit Information Group to offer anti-fraud identification checks and tenancy fraud searches. Using an applicant’s name, date of birth and current address, the carefully tailored package will return a set of data that will flag up any suspicious activity at the very point of application.

Home Connections is a boutique housing solutions provider that specializes in delivering housing services and software to the public sector. Home Connections has a suite of prevention, assessment and homelessness recording tools and is behind the pioneering housing mobility scheme called Homefinder UK and the largest local authority lettings scheme in the UK – The Mayor of London’s Housing Moves scheme.

Home Connections has been at forefront of innovative housing software for 15 years and so it didn’t come as surprise when they decided to tackle social housing fraud by offering integration of tenancy checks at the point of application. Using their national mobility scheme to develop and test the fraud checking software into application form, they are now able to offer the latest innovation, which can be built into online application forms, CBL and other software, to local authorities and housing associations.

Batch testing of current housing register applicants or existing tenants with a more complex product to trace tenancy fraud is now also available.  Marina, Home Connections’s Project Manager says: “One Local Authority with a stock of 13,000 properties used the information from the service and recovered 30 properties in the first year, and 27 the following year.

Discuss and share your opinion on the new Identity Verification product at a free seminar on 19th of April 2017 at 12pm at Islington Council. Hear from Stephanie Toghill, Housing Investigations Manager at Camden Council, who will provide an update on Local Authority initiatives into tackling housing fraud.

Claim your free ticket for this seminar here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/fraud-detection-why-prevention-is-better-than-cure-tickets-32654246731

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Presentations from our annual conference, Vision : 2020 are now available to download:

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Our recent Think Housing Research Report was unveiled last week to delegates at our annual conference where the three main political parties told us of their vision for housing in 2020.

The full research report offers new insight on issues around the housing crisis, Right to Move, the private rental sector, the quality of housing stock, the price of rent, and housing benefits.

The paper is now available for all to view by clicking here.

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CONFIRMED SPEAKERS: Ben Harris-Quinney (Chairman, The Bow Group), Lord Tope CBE (Liberal Democrats), Karen Buck MP (Labour), Alan Benson (Senior Manager – Housing Strategy, GLA), David Montague CBE (Chief Executive, L&Q), Steve Douglas (Partner, Altair), Dr Tim Brown (Senior Research Associate, De Montford University), Helen Cope (Housing Consultant), Terry Stacy MBE (Resident Board Member, Circle 33), Patrick Odling-Smee (Housing Consultant, RedQuadrant), Byron Vincent (Poet)

Our annual conference has been confirmed for Thursday 16th October at the Royal Over-Seas League. The theme for the conference is ‘Vision 2020‘, and asks the question Where will the housing sector be at the end of the next term of Parliament?

The programme for the day is below and more details van be found at our event homepage.

The Connected Housing Conference: Vision 2020
Thursday 16th October 2014
Royal Over-Seas League, Over-Seas House, Park Place, London SW1A 1LR

09:30: Registration Coffee/Tea/Biscuits 

10:00 – 10:05: Welcome

10:05 – 11:05: The Politicos

During the first session politicians and policy experts from the main political parties will explain their vision for the housing market and social housing in 2020 (the end of the next parliamentary term). 

11:05 – 11:25: Refreshments

11:05 – 12:25:The Experts

Expert practitioners, academics and housing leaders debate the points raised by the politicians and give their opinion on what needs to happen.

12:25 – 13:30: Lunch

13:30 - 14:45: Workshops

The afternoon will start with breakout sessions covering best practice.

WORKSHOP: Best Practice for Housing – Scotland does it better for Homelessness, the Right to Buy and Funding Models. Speakers from Scotland and England & Wales debate different approaches.

WORKSHOP: The north-south debate: the private rented sector – what works and what doesn’t? Speakers from across the great divide.

WORKSHOP: The economics of social housing

A panel discussion will follow the workshops.

14:45 – 15:00: Refreshments

15:00 – 16:00: The Home Connections Leaders Debate  

16:00 – 17:00: The Reception – drinks and networking  

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The social housing sector has faced a series of tough challenges during the last few years. Changes to policy, legislation and regulation have followed in quick succession and altered the allocations landscape dramatically. Never has the old adage of ‘necessity being the mother of invention’ been more relevant as housing associations, landlords and local councils face challenges unique to their local demographic and housing.

A recent CIH policy briefing sponsored by Home Connections explores how providers and partnerships have responded by creatively amending their approach to allocations. In some cases the private market has shown a model for delivery, in other examples landlords have found more traditional ‘open house’ type approaches to be useful. The report provides many different, practical examples with helpful contact details for follow up. We believe it will make essential reading for anyone associated with social housing.

Home Connections was itself born into the allocations environment as an agent of change. We are a not-for-profit organisation committed to equipping everyone involved in allocations with the most efficient, practical software solutions designed to specifically meet the needs of the social housing community. Home Connections is delighted to sponsor this report which forms part of a broader CIH programme to support organisations in new methods of working and adapt working practices in a changing political and economic climate.

Links:
CIH Policy Briefing – New approaches to allocations
Learning from London’s regional allocations scheme

Homefinder UK

Sep
2013
12

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NEWS RELEASE

12 September 2013

New opportunities for social housing tenants

Home Connections and House Exchange, part of Circle Housing Group, have launched a new national mobility website for social housing tenants looking for a new home.

Homefinder UK aims to support social housing tenants looking to move further than their immediate local authority area. Participating landlords are offering a wider selection of their properties, including those which are currently empty, giving tenants greater and more accessible options for moving home nationally.

Homefinder is also unique in the support package it will offer tenants following their move including advice and guidance around local services, personal budgeting and employment opportunities.

Homefinder is managed by Stephen Ellis, an experienced housing mobility specialist who previously managed the Department of Communities and Local Government’s Seaside and Country Homes, and the Mayor of London’s Housing Moves mobility schemes.  In launching Homefinder, Stephen explains: “Giving social housing tenants the opportunity to move homes more easily within the social housing sector is vital.  Homefinder aims to meet that need and is based on our unrivalled experience in managing local choice-based letting services and mutual exchange schemes.”

Homefinder is open to all social housing tenants who want to move whether it’s to be closer to family and friends, better employment opportunities or to find a property that better meets their personal and financial circumstances.  It is anticipated that tenants affected by the Welfare Reform Act 2012 may also use Homefinder to look for properties that they can afford.

The founding member landlords include the London Boroughs of Islington, Ealing, Harrow and Wandsworth, Barnet Homes, the City of Westminster, The Home Group, Circle 33, Peabody, East Thames, Mercian Housing and Amicus Horizon housing associations.  The choice of properties available will expand as more landlords register with the service.

Kevin Devlin, Managing Director of Mercian Housing Association, said: “We are keen to offer as much choice as possible to our tenants and one of the things that makes Homefinder attractive to us is the support tenants will get following their move.”

Ninesh Muthiah, Chief Executive of Home Connections, said: “There are real benefits for landlords joining Homefinder, including wider opportunities to advertise their homes, a reduction in the number of empty properties and enabling their tenants to take advantage of job opportunities throughout the country.”

Home Connections is delivering Homefinder in partnership with House Exchange on a not-for-profit basis.

For more information about Homefinder, visit www.homefinderuk.org

If you would like to speak to Stephen Ellis about Homefinder UK or have other media related enquiries please call Madeleine Tuinstra on 07850 514596 or madeleinetuinstra@hotmail.com.

 

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Wednesday June 12th 2013, Islington Assembly Hall

9-6.30

Session 1: National Mobility                                                        Book Now

Welfare Reform is proving a major challenge for Local Authorities (LA) and Registered Providers (RP). This opening session will update the LA and RP perspective and the opportunities provided by the National Mobility Scheme.

Ninesh Muthiah, Chief Executive, Home Connections
Mike Ward, Director of Housing Growth & Mobility, Circle Housing Group
Laura Johnson, Director of Housing, Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea

What you will get from the session:

  • Reportage from the National Mobility Scheme
  • Update on the challenges posed by inward and outward migration
  • Learn of new resources to support the challenge of welfare reform

Session 2: Social Value

As the social purpose of the public sector and the housing movement is placed under scrutiny like never before we review and discuss the Social Value Act through context and case study.

Will Nixon, Deputy Chief Executive, The Aspire Group
William Miller, Community Development Director, Amicus Horizon
Emma Morris, Managing Director, Beyond Youth 

What you will get from the session:

  • Gain insight on the Social Value Act and its potential
  • Hear inspirational case study of organisations ‘making a difference’
  • Learn how to promote the social value of what you do
  • How to create social value through the supply chain

Lunch

Session 3: New Delivery Models

With millions locked out of home ownership, huge challenges in meeting demand and soaring rents in the private sector, we look in detail how the sector is responding in both England and Scotland. From the g15 offer for ‘generation rent’, the opportunities provided by institutional investment and with borrowing headroom through the HRA enabling local authorities to build for the first time in many years this session looks broad and long.

David Bookbinder, Head of Policy & Public Affairs, CIH Scotland
Scott Dorling, Partner, Trowers & Hamlins
Dr Tim Brown, Director of Housing, Centre for Comparative Housing Research at Montfort University

What you will get from the session:

  • Insight on the financing and funding models to develop new build
  • Explore the issues arising from these new delivery models
  • Compare the approach between England and Scotland

Session 4: Leaders Debate

We will round out the day with a lively debate on the ‘burning issue’ of the day.

Neil Litherland, Chief Executive, Lambeth Living
Patrick Odling-Smee, Service Director Housing, LB Islington
June Barnes, CEO, East Thames

What you will get from the session:

  • Debate not heard anywhere else
  • Audience engagement and discussion
  • Lively and stimulating comment

Drinks Reception & Networking

 

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