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News Report Page 12 of 30
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New report finds over 500,000 home owners in the North West are living in poor quality housing

THE Northern Housing Consortium (NHC), a membership body, calls for more focus on improving the North West's existing housing stock in light of a new report. A new study highlights there are over 500,000 non-decent owner occupied homes in the North West; and a further 160,000 private rented sector properties that are unfit and fail to meet the decent homes standard. Worryingly, of those 500,000 homes, over ½ are occupied by at least 1 person over 60 or with a long term illness or disability.

The report:- 'The Hidden costs of Poor Quality Housing in the North,' was commissioned by the Northern Housing Consortium (NHC) and written by the Smith Institute, an independent public policy think tank. It highlights the scale of the problem across the whole of the North and the increased health impacts of those living in homes that are unfit for purpose.

It is well known that poor condition housing harms people's health and well being. It also carries considerable costs for the NHS and social care system, as well as negative economic, welfare and environmental impacts.

Owner occupiers are often seen as asset rich and having the means to repair, improve or adapt their homes. However, this study shows that too many areas of the North have low value, poor quality houses with little or no equity - a situation that has not changed since the financial crisis 10 years ago.

Despite an older housing stock, the North has made good progress in reducing the number of non-decent homes, with huge improvement made to the social housing stock over the past 20 years. However, lack of investment for private housing, particularly for older people, is starting to reverse the trend so the level of unfit homes is increasing.

These challenges could be addressed by increased support for home improvement under a new Decent Private Homes programme and new devolution housing deals. Stock condition surveys could evaluate the potential costs and savings. This then could be part funded by recycling identified savings into local or City Region funding pots for home improvements, or for older people to be given the choice to move to a property that better suits their needs. New devolution deals could accelerate this work.

Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of Liverpool City Region said:- "We are, of course, aware of the challenges presented by an increasingly ageing population and this piece of work by the Smith Institute really brings this into sharp focus from a housing perspective. Across the Liverpool City Region, there are a number of projects designed to help people adapt their homes to ensure they are not only safe and accessible but also to make them more fuel efficient and so improve the quality of their homes, enabling them to continue to live healthier, more independent lives. The scale of the challenge is compounded by the condition and age of our housing stock, the ageing profile of our population and the cuts to housing programmes in recent years. Our focus, therefore, needs to be on presenting the evidence to Government to make the case for increased resources to enable our partners to build on these initiatives to tackle this issue and, in doing so, to reduce the burgeoning pressure on our health and social care services."

Jo Boaden, Chief Executive, NHC said:- "We are acutely aware that new homes are urgently needed across the North and there has been an understandable focus on finding ways to achieve this. However, new supply in the North accounts for less than 1% of the North's housing stock and so we cannot forget about the critical importance of maintaining, improving or adapting existing homes."

In the coming months, the NHC will be working with members and stakeholders to open up the debate to help find creative solutions to these problems. Further work will be carried out to highlight the clear links between poor quality housing and the impact it has on older people's health and ability to stay in their homes for longer.

Paul Hackett, Director, the Smith institute said:- "The number of retired homeowners living in non-decent properties is alarming. All the focus has been on increasing housing supply, and not enough attention has been given to the quality of existing homes. Urgent action is needed across the North to tackle the problem of disrepair. Perhaps it is time for a Decent Homes programme for the North, focused on helping low income older homeowners?"

The study was sponsored by Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and Karbon Homes.

Steady growth in North West rental prices amid Brexit concerns from landlords

AVERAGE UK rental values have grown steadily over September 2018, but the potential impact of Brexit is causing concern among landlords, according to the latest data from HomeLet.

The HomeLet Rental Index; the UK's most comprehensive and up to date data on rental values in the UK; shows a steady rate of inflation in rental prices. In a market which is sensitive to the balance between supply and demand, this steady growth suits both tenants and landlords.

However, the initial findings from the company's survey of over 2,900 landlords have shown that more than a ⅓ have concerns over Brexit's impact on the market.

The headlines from this month's HomeLet Rental Index are:-

The average rent in the North West is now ₤708, up by 1.6% on the same time last year.

The average rent in the UK is now ₤943, up 1.7% on the same time last year.

When London is excluded, the average rent in the UK is now ₤780, up 1.8% on last year.

Average rents in London are now ₤1,632, up by 3% on last year.

The Region with the largest month on month decrease was the East Midlands, showing a 1.6% decrease between August and September 2018.

The Region with the largest year on year increase is Scotland, showing a 5.6% increase since September 2017.

This month has seen rental prices rise in 11 of the 12 Regions monitored by HomeLet, with only the North East seeing a decrease.

Commenting on this data, Martin Totty, chief executive at HomeLet, said:- "The data for September shows that rents UK wide are on average 1.7% higher than the same time last year, which continues the trend we have been seeing throughout most of 2018. Historically, we have seen a higher rate of rental price growth in London and the South East. However, over the last 6 months the rate of growth in these areas has slowed to reflect a similar rate to the rest of the country. Throughout the UK, the longer term trend is 1 of fairly narrow, shallow growth over a longer period of time. Over the last year, the growth rate has remained below the average rate of inflation in the wider economy, and the growth in the housing market. The rental sector can be seen to be performing at a much steadier rate, with a lower level of volatility when compared with house prices."

The initial results of HomeLet's annual Landlord Survey corroborate this largely positive picture, with 9 out of 10 landlords intending to either keep or expand their property portfolio in 2019. However, the potential impacts of Brexit rate highly among their main concerns, along with the possibility of increased regulation through legislation and changes to house prices. Martin said:- "While more than 90% of landlords intend to either keep or expand their property portfolio in the next 12 months, they are not without their concerns. Our initial results show that the 3 main concerns that landlords have are the macro economic impacts they face on their finances; further changes to legislation, the potential implications of Brexit and house price values. The results suggest that while landlords are not planning to leave the market at this stage, uncertainty over the wider economic picture; especially when Brexit is added into the mix; could easily change this. The current, steady growth within the private rental sector suits the needs of both tenants and landlords. However, should landlords change their stance and begin to exit the market, therefore reducing the supply of rental properties, there is a possibility that rental prices could rise, as at this stage there is no indication that the demand for rental properties is going down."

As the UK's largest tenant referencing firm, HomeLet reference 500,000 tenants every year. The HomeLet Rental Index provides the most comprehensive and up to date data on rental values in the UK. The trends reported within the HomeLet Rental Index are brand new tenancies, which were arranged in the most recent period, providing an in-depth insight into the lettings market.  For more information, or if you would like to receive the results of the survey, you can register online.

Community Health and Wellbeing Festival

SOUTHPORT and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust, West Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group and Macmillan Cancer Support are working together on a Health and Wellbeing Festival. The event, which is on Thursday, 25 October 2018, from 2pm to 4:30pm, is open to anyone, not just those affected by cancer. The Festival will provide information, signposting and contacts within the many organisations and services available within West Lancashire. The voluntary, charitable and health sectors will be available under 1 roof, to offer support and information. They will be offering a wide range of services relating to wellbeing, not just traditional health services. The aim is to support and empower people to self manage their condition, increase their knowledge of local services and reduce anxiety about where to get help. There will be talks on fatigue, stress management and anxiety, the importance of staying active, healthy eating and weight management. Visitors can try out complementary therapies, have a blood pressure checks and maybe win a 'pamper hamper.' The event will be held at:- West Lancs College, College Way, Skelmersdale, WN8 6DX. To find out more call:- 01695 656533 or send them an email. Stalls include:- Arts for Wellbeing by Divine Days, healthy diets advice from WLBC, Active West Lancashire, carers support from WLCVS and NCompass, benefits advice, medicines management, Quit Squad, Crossroads, AGEUK, Mooney and Everett Solicitors, Twinkle House and the Lancashire Wellbeing Service, Macmillan Information and Support Services, Wiltshire Foods and many more. Health services will include specialist nurses and Queenscourt Hospice

Schools say NO to knives

SCHOOLS in Liverpool are beginning the School year with a series of special assemblies focusing on knife crime, the dangers of carrying a knife and how we can all keep safe. Working in partnership with Merseyside Police and LASH Liverpool Association of Secondary Heads, the City Council has developed a specialised assembly as part of the #NoMoreKnives project. This is part of a holistic approach to tackling knife crime and ensuring the young people of Liverpool fully understand and appreciate the consequences of choosing to carry a knife. All Secondary Schools will receive the assembly and is part of a collective City wide response. Our partners Merseyside Police have a number of new mobile knife arches that can be used as part of presentations in Schools, due to availability. Liverpool City Council is continuing to actively work with, bars and licensees, retailers, youth and community groups and campaigners.

Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said;- "The #NoMoreKnives campaign is hugely important to the City and the people who live here. We are absolutely committed to ensuring the young people of our City remain safe and learn the dangers of carrying a knife, while working with them on this important issue Showing the devastation and impact that knife crime can have on families, Schools and whole communities is a focus for us but we also need to make sure our children aware of the very serious consequences of carrying a knife and the impact this can have on the rest of their lives. I know young people of the City are also concerned about knives and the impact they have on their friends and social circles. That's why this campaign is so important for our City."

Superintendent Louise Harrison, the force lead on knife crime said;- "Merseyside Police is committed to working with partners to tackle the issue of knife crime. We believe it's really important that the consequences of carrying and using a knife are made clear to everyone; especially young people; and that by going into Schools and reaching young people at the earliest stages will have the greatest impact. We want to reach out to our young people and challenge the perception that carrying a knife is somehow socially acceptable and through education and family engagement we hope we can help tackle the fears or peer pressure that may drive young people to carry knives."

Representing Liverpool Association of Secondary Heads, David Hayes added;- "All Schools take safeguarding very seriously and in particular educating our young people in staying safe. We are pleased to be supporting our partners across the City with a strategic awareness campaign. By supporting this agenda isn't a case of there being knife issues in Schools, rather we are very clear that anyone could be a victim and as such we are committed to ensuring our young people are fully educated around the issue."

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