Between November and December 2021, the Local Government Association (LGA) conducted an online survey of participants in its Housing Advisers Programme (HAP) from the financial year 2017/18 onwards. The purpose of this survey was to evaluate the impact of this programme on its participants and their authorities since its inception in 2017. A total of 31 participants responded – a response rate of 26 per cent.
- The key goal which respondents’ councils most often wanted to achieve through the Housing Advisers Programme was increased general housing supply, identified by 42 per cent of respondents, although a wide range of goals were also identified
- The vast majority (ranging from 83 to 100 per cent) of respondents who selected each goal reported that the programme had helped their council to make some progress towards that goal. Increased specialist housing supply was the goal which respondents said the programme had helped them make the most progress towards
- The vast majority of respondents (97 per cent) said that the programme had or likely will have a lasting impact on their council’s ability to deliver housing and homelessness services, rough sleeping provision, and place making
- One hundred per cent of respondents said that the programme has had a positive impact overall
- The vast majority of respondents (97 per cent) said that they would definitely or probably recommend the programme if asked about it.
The Housing Advisers Programme (HAP) is run by the Local Government Association (LGA) and is intended to support councils seeking to innovate in meeting the housing needs of their communities. It aims to be simple, flexible and locally led.
Since the HAP’s inception in 2017, councils have been supported to innovate and meet the needs of their communities by using funding from the scheme to deliver a range of projects. The impact of the HAP is far-reaching, with councils benefitting in respect of the following project areas:
- green homes
- housing supply
- private rented sector
The LGA is promoting shared learning across the sector, using case studies and webinars, enabling other councils to learn more about the projects and associated impacts that have been delivered. You can also view the projects for the successful applicants for 2021/22, which includes more than 90 participating councils and 30 projects.
This survey was intended to evaluate the impact of the programme on its participants and their local authorities since its inception in 2017/18.
In November 2021 the LGA sent an online survey invitation via email to participants in the Housing Advisers Programme across England. The survey was in the field until December 2021. It was circulated to 121 participants and a total of 31 responded to the survey; a response rate of 26 per cent.
This level of response rate means that these results should not be taken to be more widely representative of the views of all councils. Rather, they are a snapshot of the views of this particular group of respondents.
The chief reason for the low level of response is likely that respondents in the earlier cohorts have since left their authorities or otherwise are no longer in a position to provide feedback on the programme. Table 1 shows the difference in response rates between the cohorts of the programme which were targeted in this survey. This demonstrates that the response rate was markedly lower in the first two cohorts, and among the 2019/20 cohort was approaching 50 per cent.
|Type of authority||Total number||Number of responses||Response rate %|
In addition, the following points about the methodology used in this report should also be noted:
- Where tables and figures report the base, the description refers to the group of people who were asked the question. The number provided refers to the number of respondents who answered each question. Please note that bases vary throughout the survey.
- Throughout the report percentages in figures and tables may add to more than 100 per cent due to rounding.
Housing Advisers Programme Evaluation Survey
This section contains analysis of the full results from the survey.
Goals for the Housing Advisers Programme
Respondents were asked what key goals their council had wanted to achieve through the Housing Advisers Programme. Respondents were able to select all goals that applied.
Table 2 and Figure 1 show the results for this question. The goal most frequently selected was increased general housing supply, at 42 per cent (13 respondents). This was followed by other goals, reduction in homelessness, and an improved planning service. The goals selected least often were increased specialist housing supply and savings or revenue generation.
The twelve other goals specified were as follows:
- Capital receipt
- Carbon reduction, housing quality, improved understanding of housing stock
- Challenge existing methodology
- Creation of a single housing system for two district councils
- Development of Effective Approaches to address poor management and disrepair and increase quality and supply in the Private Rented Sector in Stoke-on-Trent.
- Fair and updated Allocations Policy
- Improve relationships across the housing, health and care systems, in how we work with vulnerable (complex) clients
- Improved quality of development
- Improved skills and knowledge base
- Process and procedure improvements
- supporting delivery of net zero carbon housing
- Sustainability, fuel efficiency for the tenants
Respondents were shown the goals which they selected asked which of them was the mail goal their council wanted to achieve through the programme. In this question, they were only permitted to select one of the goals which they had selected in the previous question.
Table 3 and Figure 2 show the results for this question. For each goal, two percentages are provided: those who selected a goal as the main goal as a percentage of those who selected the goal as one of their goals in the previous question, and those who selected that goal as their main goal as a percentage of all respondents. The ordering of goals in this question remained the same as in the previous question, with increased general housing supply predominating and no differences in ordering between the two types of percentages. None of the respondents who selected savings or revenue generation as a goal selected it as their main goal in this question.
|Increased housing supply (general)||13||42%|
|Other goals (please specify below)||12||39%|
|Reduction in homelessness||9||29%|
|Improved planning service||8||26%|
|Increased housing supply (specialist)||7||23%|
|Savings or revenue generation||6||19%|
Base: all respondents (31 respondents)
|Number||Per cent of selectors||Per cent of respondents|
|Increased housing supply (general)||11||85%||35%|
|Other goals (please specify below)||8||67%||26%|
|Reduction in homelessness||6||67%||19%|
|Improved planning service||4||50%||13%|
|Increased housing supply (specialist)||2||29%||6%|
|Savings or revenue generation||0||0%||0%|
Base: all respondents (31 respondents
Progress towards key goals
Respondents were asked the extent to which the Housing Advisers Programme enabled their council to make progress towards its key goal or goals.
Table 4 and Figure 3 show the results for this question. A large majority of respondents who selected each goal indicated that the programme had enabled their council to make progress towards it to at least a small extent. This added up to 100 per cent of respondents in the case of other goals, increased specialist housing supply, improved planning service and reduction in homelessness, 92 per cent of respondents in the case of increased general housing supply, and 83 per cent in the case of savings or revenue generation. The goal with the highest percentage of people selecting “to a great extent” was other goals at 50 per cent, followed by increased specialist housing supply (43 per cent), improved planning service (38 per cent), savings or revenue generation (33 per cent) and increased general housing supply (31 per cent). The option with the lowest proportion selecting “to a great extent” was reduction in homelessness, at 11 per cent.
|At least a small extent||Great extent||Moderate extent||Small extent||Not at all|
|Increased housing supply (general)||92% (12)||31% (4)||31% (4)||31% (4)||8% (1)|
|Other goals (please specify below)||100% (12)||50% (6)||25% (3)||25% (3)||0% (0)|
|Reduction in homelessness||100% (9)||11% (1)||44% (4)||44% (4)||0% (0)|
|Improved planning service||100% (8)||38% (3)||25% (2)||38% (3)||0% (0)|
|Increased housing supply (specialist)||100% (7)||43% (3)||57% (4)||0% (0)||0% (0)|
|Savings or revenue generation||83% (5)||33% (2)||33% (2)||17% (1)||17% (1)|
Base: all respondents who selected each goal as one of their key goals in the first question (see Table 2)
Impact of the Housing Advisers Programme
Respondents were asked the extent to which, if at all, they felt that the Housing Advisers Programme has had or will likely have a lasting impact on their council’s capacity to deliver all or any of the following:
- Housing and homelessness services;
- Rough sleeping provision; and
- Place making
Table 5 and Figure 4 show the results for this question. In total 97 per cent of respondents indicated that this was the case for their council, consisting of 35 per cent to a great extent, a further 35 per cent to a moderate extent, and 26 per cent to a small extent. Three per cent of respondents said that this was not the case in their authority at all.
|To at least a small extent||30||97%|
|To a great extent||11||35%|
|To a moderate extent||11||35%|
|To a small extent||8||26%|
|Not at all||1||3%|
Respondents were asked the extent to which, if at all, the Housing Advisers Programme has had a positive impact overall.
Table 6 and Figure 5 show the results for this question. All respondents indicated that the programme has had a positive overall impact to at least a small extent, with 48 per cent responding to a great extent, 32 per cent to a moderate extent, and 19 per cent to a small extent. No respondents replied that this was not the case at all.
|To at least a small extent||31||100%|
|To a great extent||15||48%|
|To a moderate extent||10||32%|
|To a small extent||6||19%|
|Not at all||0||0%|
Respondents were asked to briefly explain how the Housing Advisers Programme helped to achieve positive outcomes for their council. Their responses to this question were as follows:
- “Due to the time it takes to implement change and then see planning proposals through the system, the project is in many ways yet to bear fruit. However, it has really helped bring together the authorities to consider shared approaches to tackling shared challenges, and is informing plans to change and streamline the way development is handled through the post-permission planning system.”
- “HAP enabled us to deliver a validated housing stock data baseline for all homes across the wider area, which has been widely used by all local councils and stakeholders. It has provided a high-quality baseline for our current housing stock which we are using to logically assess the degree of energy efficiency retrofit possible.”
- “It enabled the Council to upskill their building services staff to prepare them for upcoming low energy housing developments.”
- “It helped address the requirement to set out specialist housing need in our draft Local Plan but also started a process to begin more focused work on having a robust evidence base for different cohorts requiring specialist housing going forward.”
- “It helped build capacity.”
- “It helped us develop and roll out a number of cross-sector approaches to tackling homelessness, bringing both the sector but just as importantly a variety of upper tier, district and unitary councils together.”
- “It really made us consider how we deliver services and consider alternative approaches and how we plan going forward.”
- “It started a conversation about improved liaison with local SME developers and the potential for better communication around key sites.”
- “Our funding was used to develop an ICS Strategic Needs Assessment of the Accommodation Needs for those with autism, learning disabilities and mental health issues. The action plan developed from the report recommendations is now about to be implemented.”
- “Provided a clear way forward and recommendations to allow us to focus on how we achieve new homes.”
- “Provided evidence base and pathway to develop Private Sector Lettings provision.”
- "The following key outputs achieved from the programme were valuable:
- A fully developed scoping paper and development plan with a toolkit of appropriate recommended approaches that are available to achieve the Council’s objectives.
- An evaluation of best practice applied elsewhere to support recommendations for approaches and enable benchmarking with other authorities.”
- “The HAP funded external consultants that validated and endorsed the approach suggested by the housing department. In so doing, this gave credibility to the approach and persuaded senior management that the project would work.”
- “The HAP funding enabled us to secure external consultants to drive forward our programme of change giving us a blueprint on which we could base future housing and homelessness services and provided an exemplar of joint working. It absolutely enabled us to achieve more than we could've done internally in that time, particularly as we navigated the emergence and impact of COVID-19.”
- “The HAP programme has been the catalyst for housing, health, and care services (including VCS partners) to rethink how we commission and provide both support and accommodation for the most complex cohort of customers. The work has seen significant improvements in how services collaborate. It has also been the driver (along with external support from MHCLG) to draw down funding for new specialist accommodation options. We are currently linking this work to the ICS, where we see the potential for strategic integrated commissioning across systems. I can't underestimate the impact of this programme. It has been significant.”
- “The HAP provided momentum and funding for the council to explore the disposal of its only piece of developable land in the local plan. It paid for expertise to help de-risk the site and determine the best option for the council.”
- “The Housing Advisory Programme helped the Councils deliver a Net Zero Carbon Housing Toolkit which was regarded by many both internally and externally as a valued, open resource to housebuilders, consultants, architects and designers and policy makers.”
- “The output was a piece of research which is utilised across the county. It has played a part in enabling delivery of housing for older people in a number of districts.”
- The programme allowed us to bring in an experienced high-level professional with expertise in the field to allow us to focus on some really knotty issues, leading to service improvements, up-to-date protocols and an action plan.”
- “The programme enabled the Council to procure specialist, highly skilled consultants to review a specific, identified barrier to local housing delivery. The final report and presentation to senior officers clearly set out the issues creating barriers to housing delivery and helped the Council target actions to improve delivery.”
- "The programme enabled us to work with our Planning department to develop a Supplementary Planning Document recognising the importance of specialist and support accommodation in planning considerations.”
- “The programme is helping us to develop a Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS) that will enable us to select only those Housing Providers and organisations who meet certain standards and criteria.”
- “The tools we were provided with have help us to engage better with the private rented sector and as a result, we have employed a dedicated Accommodation Officer to source accommodation and support landlord we work with.”
- “We used the programme to improve our knowledge and understanding of affordable housing development, to analyse the development potential of Council owned sites and to pull together an affordable housing development programme. The house building programme has now commenced and the first units handed over.”
Respondents were also asked to briefly outline any factors which have limited the impact of the Housing Advisers Programme on their council. Their responses to this question were as follows:
- "COVID-19 pandemic.”
- “Internal governance complications and delays.”
- “Procurement complications and delays.”
- “Workforce Reduction Programme.”
- “Other staff losses and recruitment freeze."
- “The goal was to provide affordable housing with a supportive element. The goal has now changed due to COVID-19 and the current housing market and resources.”
- “The input received from the HAP was very helpful and of a high standard. The practical benefit has been limited due to decisions being taken elsewhere in the Council on the timing and approach to development of residential sites.”
- “The report came in just as COVID-19 hit and our capacity to respond to and implement the proposals has been significantly impacted.”
- “The timing of the award was such that we were facing so many other priorities, we were unable to develop or take forward our actions.”
Likeliness to recommend the Housing Advisers Programme
Respondents were asked, taking everything into consideration, how likely they would be to recommend the Housing Advisers Programme if asked about it.
Table 7 and Figure 6 show the results of this question. This demonstrates that the vast majority of respondents – 97 per cent – would recommend the programme, including 90 per cent who would definitely recommend the programme and six per cent who would probably recommend it.
|I would recommend the programme||30||97%|
|I would definitely recommend the programme||28||90%|
|I would probably recommend the programme||2||6%|
|I would probably not recommend the programme||1||3%|
|I would definitely not recommend the programme||0||0%|
Further comments on the Housing Advisers Programme
Respondents were asked to provide any further comments they had on the Housing Advisers Programme. These comments are provided below:
- “All outputs enabled by the programme will not be wasted - we are just adjusting our goals and will use the report as a basis to inform our work on a housing delivery vehicle.”
- “I would be happy to talk to anyone about our experience of the programme if required.”
- “It was an easy process to navigate, which is not always the case with some funding streams.”
- “Only thank you for the opportunity to benefit from the programme.”
- “Our project was around a year late starting because LGA could not identify consultants to carry out the work, and ultimately we were able to use Local Partnerships but at a significant additional cost, which we had to source from other budgets. This caused a problem for us and undermined our ability to implement the learning.”
- “The advisor was knowledgeable and a valuable asset.”
- “The application process is straightforward and the consultants that the LGA put forward really delivered for us.”
- “The flexibility in carrying forward the funding was very much appreciated during the pandemic. We are currently marketing the site and expect to dispose early next year which is a great result for current residents and prospective residents.”
- “The flexibility of the programme has meant that our project has achieved as many goals as possible before the deadline which was a great aspect.”
- “The HAP programme gave us the means to provide the capacity and the intellectual support to make significant changes to how we commission and provide services. Two years later, the programme is still making good progress and changing the way we operate, for the better.”
- “The only negative comment I would have would be around the designated timeframes, which were exceeded.”
- “The programme enables access to vital funding streams that allow Councils to undertake pieces of work that would otherwise not be possible or may not be able to take a priority.”
- “The quality of the output from this project has been recognised by the RTPI in Planning research awards. This has been really great in promoting the issue to the wider planning profession and continues to give leverage to seek to address these challenges beyond the region, something that our delivery partners at a local university are ably taking forward.”
- “The support was timely and much needed, bringing in external expertise gave a clear insight into how to progress our project.”
- “Valued by team and good resource for local authorities.”
- “Very helpful and worthwhile programme. Thank you.”
- "We really benefitted from the HAP and the funding received helped us deliver an important project to support us on a pathway to net zero carbon homes. We did find some of the required reporting to the LGA HAP team onerous and the Design Council evaluation did take up a lot of time and we never received any outputs from our participation."