Categories Social Housing

Social Housing: Adapting to Change, Delivering to Need.

In many ways it’s a good thing that the majority of UK’s diverse population doesn’t really know what or why Social Housing is. A good thing, because to live in Social Housing is to have deeply painful social needs.

Commercially, suppliers, contractors and other service providers simply think of delivering to such properties as – ‘another paycheque’.

Socially, we (JGF Electrical) take a pride in supporting communities whose needs are greater, and resources weaker, than we would ever hope of requiring ourselves.

Professional Support

That is why our approach to partnering the not-for-profit Housing Associations who operate such schemes, is to do so with extra care and consideration. Our job on site is not unlike supporting Landlords of normal rental portfolios. We test and inspect to British standards; upgrade accessories, consumer units and smoke detection where required; partially rewire or fully rewire properties requiring the upgrades; complete adaptions for social and physical ability needs. And most importantly, complete all certification for a safe home for people to live

More often than not, these properties are occupied and sometimes by people with personal issues and in distress.

Gaining access can even be a challenge. We train our teams to have the highest electrical industry standards. But we also train and develop ‘social experience’, so they extend the supportive hand of polite professionalism at the same time. As, when on site, we represent the Managing Association, this approach is an asset to them and a feather in the cap for us both.

As you can imagine, it’s far from being a bed of roses. Outside of properly managed bona fide Housing Associations, tenants have been treated as second class citizens for whom second and third-rate accommodation ‘will do’.

So disgustingly wrong.

Things are Changing

But, thankfully, things are changing.

In an exclusive interview with ITV News in February, Housing Secretary Michael Gove said he is “ashamed” by the conditions social housing tenants are being forced to live in. He admitted, for the first time, the Government had failed to deliver the reforms promised to tenants after the Grenfell tragedy in 2017. A year-long ITV News investigation has uncovered social housing conditions described as “the worst the sector has ever seen”.

Residents across Britain have shown the mould, damp, leaks, collapsed ceilings and risks of electrocution that blight their lives, despite consistent complaints to their landlord.

Politically, he was able to make such admissions because the Government had already released their White Paper on ‘Levelling Up’ earlier that month.

An article from the National Housing Federation (NHF) sums up the intentions of ‘Levelling Up’:

Key Issues & Actions

Key issues covered in the White Paper are considered under specific headings:

  • Regeneration and delivering social housing
  • Local government and devolution
  • UK Shared Prosperity Fund
  • Planning reform
  • Resident voice and quality of homes
  • Supply of older peoples’ housing
  • Next steps for housing associations

The NHF article notes that there are still questions around the details of funding and how the new proposals will work in practice. So, there’s clearly more to come on this and we are grateful to UK Housing for keeping all involved up to speed. And we will be developing what this means to JGF and other specialist contractors supporting Social Housing over the next few months.

The bottom line though is that all involved will have to tighten their grip.

There will be more work needed across the sector to inspect, maintain, upgrade and re-fit, which means greater costs to scheme managers. These costs can be offset against future call outs, if the job is done properly in the first place, and ‘properly’ means far more than just ticking off a number on a job sheet.

‘Properly’ means approaching the service partnership with broader understanding and responsibility from inspection, specification, quotation, stock management, efficiency, installation, re-testing and certification.

Certification itself means more than form filling. We are known across Kent for the quality of EICR Certification and, if it carries our Q1 quality assurance stamp, you will know it’s a job well done. No compromise, just experience, expertise and of course – care.

As you see, it’s a big subject that we will be taking bite-sized pieces from, to digest over the coming months.

Categories Apprenticeships, Buy-To-Let, Landlord

Section 21 – Scrapped: Implications & Thoughts

Section 21 eviction powers will be removed from landlords. Housing Secretary, Michael Gove, says this will “end the unfair situation where renters can be kicked out of their homes for no reason.”

All homes in the private rental sector will have to meet a minimum standard to be known as the Decent Homes Standard

‘Levelling Up’

The ‘Levelling Up’ White Paper continues to say: “We will consult on introducing a Landlords Register and will set out plans for a crack down on rogue landlords – making sure fines and bans stop repeat offenders leaving renters in terrible conditions.”

The Government says home ownership will be boosted via a new £1.5 billion Levelling Up Home Building Fund being launched. This is intended to provide loans to small and medium sized developers and support the Government’s wider regeneration agenda in areas considered a priority for levelling up. 

The government is also committing to build what it calls “more genuinely affordable social housing.” A new Social Housing Regulation Bill will be introduced following the Grenfell tragedy in 2017.

The ‘80/20 rule’ will be scrapped, with much of the £1.8 billion brownfield funding instead being diverted to transforming brownfield sites in the North and Midlands, with less emphasis on London and the South East.

The Bill as a whole is intended to: “shift government focus and resources to Britain’s forgotten communities throughout the 2020s.”

So, what does this mean for JGF Electrical ?

A heck of a lot !

  • We totally support the need for more affordable, decent, safe housing for the many in desperate need of security in their living space.
  • This includes both rental accommodation and Social Housing.
  • Already working closely with Landlords and Management Agencies in both disciplines, we have developed a service and advisory programme to help maintain properties to the highest standards and refurbish voids quickly and efficiently so the properties are safe and comfortable for the tenants that so desperately need them, and the owners can relax, knowing the work is cost-effectively completed with professional focus.
  • We provide ‘nose-to-tail’ Electrical installation, inspection, correction and compliance, from construction to conversion, upgrades to occupation, and ongoing advice and service management.

What’s more:

The Bill has 12 Missions covering a breadth of National development criteria. One in particular sits at the heart of our own mission withing JGF Electrical and reads:

“6. By 2030, the number of people successfully completing high-quality skills training will have significantly increased in every area of the UK. In England, this will lead to 200,000 more people successfully completing high-quality skills training annually, driven by 80,000 more people completing courses in the lowest skilled areas.”

We are hoping we can use this mindset to build on our existing Apprenticeship Programme and to help other local Trades and the colleges in Kent and beyond to present closer relations for Apprentices, businesses and Britain to benefit long term.

We can’t keep up with BAE Systems who recently announced plans to recruit almost 1,700 apprentices and graduates this year – a record number, but we can, are, and will continue to do our bit.

[See our recent article / blog – The Knowledge Gap – for more on our Apprenticeships agenda.]