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Welcome to the learning4housing blog. I will be posting my thoughts and opinions on a range of issues facing the social housing sector. You are more than welcome to post your comments, whether you agree or disagree on the points. The aim here is to stimulate some debate on these issues, whether they are about current government policy or about best practice in housing management or strategy.

is an independent training provider for the social housing sector. We cover a wide range of subject areas, including anti-social behaviour, homelessness, resident involvement, void control, choice-based lettings, and complaints management, as well as personal skills development around communication, negotiation, assertiveness, influencing, managing people, etc. Please visit the main website for more information at

Please call David on 07986 246406 to discuss your training needs and how we can help, or email at

Tuesday, September 28

Skills for Social Housing

As part of an e-learning course that I facilitate, there has been some debate around the skills that are needed for working in housing and related areas around sustainability. The usual reference for this debate is the Egan report into this issue. Egan's general conclusion was that the main deficiency is around the generic, rather than the technical skill set. It is now a good few years since Egan and times have changed somewhat. So, is this an issue that is worth revisiting? Are Egan's conclusion still relevant? Is there still a shortage of those generic skills such as communication, negotiation, influencing, project management etc? Any thoughts anyone?

Monday, September 20

Security of Tenure (Part 2)

Last night the housing minister Grantt Shapps announced that social housing providers are going to be given the power to choose whether their new tenants have a lifetime tenancy, or whether this will be time-limited.

Details seem a bit vague at the moment, but it is clear that there could be wide variations, even between neighbouring councils or housing associations. Is this a workable option? I can forsee many potential problems arising here, which could centre around the political control of local authorities. Is it right that this decision should be 'localised' in this way? Has Shapps abdicated his responsibility for setting national housing policy, so as to deflect any blame away from government? Is it a crumb of comfort for the Lib Dems? (who incidentally, chose to ignore Simon Hughes' call for a confernce debate on the issue).

Clearly an issue that will be hotly debated in the housing press - and on this blog - in coming months.

David Wardle

Friday, September 17

Security of Tenure

So, Simon Hughes - the Lib Dem deputy leader - is trying to get the Lib Dem conference to debate the issue of security of tenure for social housing tenants. He has tabled a motion which defends security and if passed, would certainly pose an awkward dilemma for Clegg and the coalition, particularly since Cameron made his statement on the subject recently. Whilst the issue is not up there in terms of press coverage like the impending spending cuts, it does reflect the problems that are inherent in this coalition government, and does lead us to think about what housing policy will be like in 5 years time....anyone?

Tuesday, September 14

Reduction in Social Housing

There is an article in today's Guardian about the reduction in social housing that is available in various London boroughs.

This is one of the outcomes of deliberate government policy over several years. Policies such as the right to buy, which resulted in over 2 million homes being lost to the social sector since 1980, whilst housing associations, which were supposed to take over the development role, only succeeded in building about 1 million during the same period. So there has been a dramatic reduction in socially rented homes both in absolute and percentage terms in recent years.

Government statistics paint a depressing picture:

Here are some of the numbers:

In 1981, there were a total of 17.9m dwellings of all tenure in England, of which 10.7m were owner-occupied and 5.2m (or 29%) were rented from local authorities and housing associations.

In 2007, there were a total of 22.2m dwellings, with 15.5m owner-occupied and only 3.9m (17.6%) socially rented.

The shift towards owner-occupation - which has been a stated policy aim of successive governments - has clearly led to a number of benefits for individual families, who have generated sometimes considerable personal wealth in the process, particularly at times of rapidly rising house-price inflation. But has this been at a wider cost to those who maybe aspire to owner-occupation, but do not have either the resources to enter or to sustain a long-term commitment to home-ownership with all the expense that it incurs?

Thursday, September 9

Social Housing Regulation

I will be delivering a training session in a couple of weeks for a group of local authority and housing association front-line officers. The course is aimed at providing a general overview of social housing, and includes some discussion and information on how social housing is regulated. Clearly, this presents something of a dilemma. I will obviously talk about the previous role of the Housing Corporation and how the Audit Commission, Government Offices and the Tenant Services Authority have operated. But they will want to know what the future will hold for regulation, and I will have to say that at the present time there is considerable uncertainty. I am sure that I will be able to get people discussing various options and possibilities on the day, but there is a wider issue here. How damaging is it to the social housing sector to have this lack of clarity regarding regulation? What could be the longer-term implications in terms of lenders (who also have their own regualtion issues to deal with)? And most important, what could be the impact on tenants? Despite some shortcomings and failures, the regulatory regime involving the HC, TSA and Audit Commission has put enough pressure on landlords to improve their services. Is there a risk that standards will now tend to fall as this pressure reduces? 

Wednesday, September 8

Welcome to the learning4housing blog!

Welcome to my new blog. Learning4Housing is a new(ish) concept of mine, which is aimed at providing good quality training and learning experiences for people working in social housing. I hope that this blog will make sure that the learning does not end at the end of the training day. I will aim to continue to provide additional learning points, discussions, information, links etc. relating to the topics that are important to the social housing sector. There seems to be something new everyday, whether it is about new regulation frameworks, amended allocation policies, or changes to the financial system for supporting landlords and tenants. More than ever, we need to be on the top of our game if we are to provide the best quality services for the people we serve. This blog will hopefully provide a forum for debate and discussion, which will allow us to learn new things and to perhaps consider different views and perspectives. Please feel free to contribute as often as you wish. Suggestions for blog topics would also be gratefully received.

David Wardle

Monday, September 6

Learning4Housing blog is live...

The Learning4Housing blog is now up and running!
Check back regularly for news, views and comments...