MD2194 London Community-Led Housing Hub

Type of decision: 
Mayoral decision
Code: 
MD2194
Date signed: 
23 November 2017
Decision by: 
Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London

Executive summary

The London Community-Led Housing Hub will be a central access and connection point for Londoners to help them develop their own genuinely affordable homes in the capital. The Hub will offer advice on how to access funding and unlock land, as well as offering technical support for projects and a base for information sharing and establishing delivery partnerships.

Decision

The Mayor approves:

1. expenditure of £250,000 between November 2017 and 31 March 2020 to fund the set up and implementation of a hub for community-led housing in London
2. the receipt and expenditure of up to £500,000 from London boroughs or other sources, between November 2017 and 31 March 2020, to contribute to the implementation of the hub
3. a delegation to the Executive Director of Housing and Land to approve of any variation to the amount of funds received and spent from London boroughs or other sources
4. provision up to £750,000 of grant-funding to, and entering into an agreement with, CDS Co-Operatives, the organisation that will set up and implement the hub.

Part 1: Non-confidential facts and advice

Introduction and background

The GLA has engaged actively and broadly with the community-led housing sector and associated sectors since the summer of 2016 to identify barriers and opportunities for community-led housing. The lack of information, capacity building, technical support and partnership brokering emerged as key barriers throughout this engagement. A community-led housing hub, providing support to projects and organisations, has been identified as a solution - to unlock and support the sector in London to grow and deliver genuinely affordable housing that serves local needs at scale.

£250,000 of revenue funding has been allocated in the Mayor of London’s budget to seed fund a London Community-Led Housing Hub. In addition, to date, eight boroughs have agreed to contribute all or part of funding they recently secured through the Department of Communities and Local Government’s Community Housing Fund to the Hub (a total of c£277,000). There will be a formal agreement between the GLA and the contributing boroughs.

The GLA has engaged extensively with the community-led housing sector on delivery options for the hub. The model that has emerged is to have an organisation working in and supported by the sector to co-ordinate its development and delivery and host its staff, steered by a board of community-led housing organisations and the GLA. CDS has been identified as the only organisation that has the capacity, expertise and support of the sector to take the hub forward, and as well as match-funding and other resources, including staffing and marketing and communications input, to contribute to the project.

An alternative option that was considered was for the GLA to develop and run the Hub. This option was rejected for two reasons. First, because of the overwhelming view that emerged from consultation that the Hub should be embedded within the community-led housing sector. Second, because of the added value that an external community-led housing organisation could bring, in terms of expertise, match funding and in-kind support.

CDS Co-Operatives have procured a consultant to produce a five-year business plan and proposals for governance arrangements for the Hub. It is envisaged that the plan and governance arrangements will be finalised during November.

Objectives and expected outcomes

The aim of the Hub is to facilitate the growth of the community-led housing sector in London, by providing:

• information: a first point of contact via an online and physical presence for anyone interested in getting involved with community-led housing in London, including signposting and information sharing
• capacity building for communities and connected sectors: Information sharing, peer-to-peer learning, site visits, knowledge building and sharing, technical skills training, facilitating CLH group formation and growth, and developing community housing leaders
• technical support for projects, e.g. short bursts of free support from professionals and existing groups for community-led housing groups, surgeries, workshops, set number of days’ access to technical experts
• partnership brokering with funders, land owners, technical service providers, mortgage lenders, and others, providing further capacity building.

The Mayor’s contribution will provide seed funding to CDS Co-Operatives for the Hub to be set up and run for three years. Additional funding from London boroughs, and potentially other sources, will enable the Hub to increase its scope and coverage. For example, it could be used to fund additional staff for the Hub or subsidise consultancy advice to community-led organisations seeking to develop a project, benefitting a larger number of organisations and providing a more in-depth service.

Key outcomes will include:

• a significant increase in the number of community-led homes started/built in London

• increased access to land and funding for community-led housing in London

• positive feedback about the hub as a resource for London communities, councils, landowners, funders, and others interested in making community led housing a mainstream housing option

• increased awareness of the potential for community-led housing in London, with increased enthusiasm and local community capacity to lead projects

• shared learning being embedded in organisations, so that the delivery of community-led housing becomes easier, faster, cheaper and more reliable over time

• the establishment of arrangements for the hub to be a long-term and self-financing body.

Equality comments

The Hub will provide a service available to all Londoners, and will seek to reach and empower a broad and diverse audience. This will be achieved through a range of communications channels, including a website, face-to-face activities, mail and phone access, and through providing enabling services.

In designing and formulating this project the GLA has complied with the public sector equality duty. GLA officers have had due regard to the need to: eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation and other conduct prohibited by the Equality Act 2010; advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not; and foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.

There is a chronic shortage of affordable housing in London and those with protected characteristics are more likely to disproportionately suffer as a result of that shortage. Community-led housing generally produces decent affordable homes and is often designed to help particular groups of people and to meet community need.

By encouraging and facilitating community-led housing which meets local communities’ needs, the GLA hopes to create a positive impact in equalities terms and to advance equality of opportunity for those with protected characteristics who are currently disadvantaged by the housing situation in London.

The GLA will continually monitor the projects and other outputs coming out of the Hub to ensure that its goal is being realised.

Other considerations
  1. Key risks and issues

    Risk description

     

    Rating

    Mitigating action

     

    The Hub fails to deliver outputs, including becoming self-funding

    Low risk      

     

     

     

     

     

    A grant agreement between the GLA and CDS Co-Operatives will specify milestones and targets and monitoring and reporting arrangements.

    The Hub Director will have specific milestones and targets and the grant agreement will require CDS Co-Operatives to manage the Director to ensure that these are met. With regard to the Hub becoming self-funding, the grant agreement will require CDS Co-Operatives to ensure that sufficient funding is in place to run the Hub until this is achieved.

    A Hub Board will provide governance and oversight of the project. Membership of this group is likely to include GLA, CDS Co-operatives, National CLT Network, UK CO-Housing Network, Confederation of Co-operative Housing.

    London boroughs fail to make their anticipated contributions

    Low risk      

     

     

     

     

     

    Eight boroughs have committed to contributing a total c£277,000, and Department of Communities and Local Government’s Community Housing Fund grant funding to them has been awarded on the basis that this sum is paid to the GLA. The GLA is currently seeking contributions from additional boroughs and other sources.

    However, the business model for the Hub is being developed with the flexibility to be able to deliver satisfactory outcomes with solely the Mayoral funding of £250k. This means that if funding received from boroughs is not forthcoming, the Hub outputs will be managed to take into account the lesser resource.

Links to Mayoral strategies and priorities

4.1     Policy 5.3a of the Mayor’s Draft London Housing Strategy, published in September 2017, includes the following proposals:

‘Working with councils and others, the Mayor will support Londoners to be involved in planning and delivering new homes. This will include:

i supporting the expansion of community-led housing schemes through a new Community-Led Housing Hub for London; and

ii investing in community-led housing schemes and lobbying Government for a share of the national Community Housing Fund.’

  1. Impact assessments and consultations

4.2     GLA officers have worked with a range of community-led housing stakeholders on the development of the Hub. Several round tables have been held with representatives from a broad range of backgrounds, enabling a diverse range of voices to be heard. This includes national community-led housing bodies, central government, and various membership and interest organisations.

Financial comments

This decision requests approval to commit up to £750k (£250k of GLA funding plus £500k contributions from London boroughs or other sources) of grant funding, as well as enter into an agreement with CDS Co-Operatives, the organisation that will set up and implement the London Community-Led Housing Hub.

GLA’s funding (£250k) alongside borough/other contributions (up to £500k) will provide initial seed funding to enable the hub to be set up and run for three years (between 2017/18 to 2019/20), with the long-term aim of becoming self-sustainable, without the need for government grants.

It should be noted, however, that at this point, only around half of the borough contribution funding (£500k) has been secured. The Housing Programmes and Services unit in Housing and Land will ensure that funding arrangements with CDS Co-Operatives include appropriate actions to mitigate the possibility of scaling down the services in case borough contributions fall short of the expected amount (as described in ‘Key Risks and Issues’ section above).

Planned delivery approach and next steps

It is envisaged that CDS Co-Operatives will be the lead organisation for the hub. They will host and employ all Hub staff and will be responsible for all aspects of the hub, including all associated databases and websites.

Activity table

Activity

Timeline

Agree business plan and governance arrangements

November 2017

Enter into a grant agreement with CDS Co-Operatives

November 2017

Hub Project Director recruited

By early 2018

Funding received from the eight committed boroughs

By end of December 2017

Delivery start date

Early 2018

Final evaluation start and finish

April-June 2021

Delivery end date

31 March 2021


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