For many in the housing world, 2012 represents the first year of a totally rewritten policy environment.
In 2011, the Government unveiled some of the most radical changes to housing policy in a generation. The Localism Act alone including reforms to the allocation, funding and tenancy arrangements for social housing, as well as tenancy deposits for private renters and planning law, to name but a few. DCLG have produced a handy ‘plain English’ guide to the Act outlining more about the changes.
Taken together these reforms devolve far more power to town halls, which is opening up new opportunities for councillors and local people to take meaningful action to tackle the critical and damaging lack of housing across the country. Such is the scale of the shift that the LGA is busily producing guides to help local authorities prepare for the myriad of new powers they will receive.
Part of local authorities’ new role will involve gathering the research and figures necessary to allow local people to hold decision makers to account – in a true spirit of localism, as well as highlight instances of both good and bad performance. Academics at Cambridge University have been undertaking research into how well prepared local authorities are for stepping up to this vital task.
As housing policy shifts to the local level, it will be vital that campaigning charities and local people work together to deliver real change. These campaigns could range from parents trying to ensure that their children will be able to afford to buy a home in their area; to young people concerned about the impact rogue landlords are having on their street; to a London-wide campaign encouraging the Mayor to do more to tackle rocketing housing costs.
So 2012 will be about getting to grips with the new environment and combining established national campaigning methods, with more targeted local work to deliver the housing revolution we need.