North Star Consulting & Research

Our housing consultancy services include:

Housing Need and Demand Analysis

We have considerable experience in Housing Need and Demand Assessment, having delivered over 18 Housing Needs Assessments in the past five years. We have carried out many research studies to support local authorities in the development of local Housing Strategies, have written local Housing Strategies on their behalf and has evaluated their processes and outcomes in developing and delivering strategy objectives. We have extensive experience in the analysis of housing need and demand data, including analysis of housing association and local authority housing management data.

Governance Review

The North Star team encompasses housing and governance specialists with experience of working with housing associations and similar organisations and specific expertise in carrying out Governance Reviews and Board Performance Audits. We have advised many RSLs in relation to Board Performance and Governance issues prior to SHR intervention and following the issue of Governance Improvement Plans and we have an up to date understanding of the current SHR’s requirements and guidelines. We have also provided strategic advice to the RSL sector in relation to mergers, acquisitions and group structures.

Rent Restructuring and Harmonisation

We have delivered a number of rent harmonisation and rent restructuring studies within the social housing sector in Scotland. In these studies we have worked extensively with the project team and tenant representatives to develop, model and appraise a number of options for the new rent structures. Each study considered affordability and the impact of any changes on individual tenants and their ability to pay, alongside the impact on the Housing Benefit requirement.

Performance Management and Service Improvement

We have extensive experience in housing service performance management and service reviews having worked with twenty social housing landlords to review their services. Recent studies have included: review of Repairs and Maintenance; Homelessness Service Reviews; Housing Management Service Reviews. We have also worked with a number of clients to develop in house self-assessment and performance monitoring systems.

Rural Affordable Housing Needs

The North Star team have extensive experience in rural affordable housing and have delivered Rural Affordable Housing Needs Assessments and Rural Housing Strategies. We have advised local authorities, RSLs and private developers on rural housing demand, including the provision of site specific analysis.

Mid-Market Rent and Intermediate Tenures

We have experience of working with both the public and private sectors to deliver Mid Market Rent, Intermediate Tenures and housing led regeneration and we have advised house builders and local authorities on the housing market, delivery options, housing mix and demand. We are experienced in providing housing market analysis for developers and RSLs to assist in the identification of suitable market developments and to inform the size and type mix of market housing and the price points for the housing product. In addition we look at longer term dynamics in the demand for housing, arising from trends in household income; the implications of changing working patterns on the demand for space within the home; and the implications of changing demographic structure on demand for market housing.

Particular Needs Housing

Our expertise includes particular needs housing. We have worked with local authorities and RSLs to research and develop Older Persons Housing Strategies and policy solutions. We have assessed the housing support requirements of many groups including people with mental health issues, learning disabilities, physical disabilities, sensory impairment, the homeless, wheelchair users, and those with alcohol and drug misuse issues. Our studies involve collaborative working across housing, social care and health and the development of joint service initiatives and delivery responses.

Board Appraisal

The North Star team encompasses housing and governance specialists with experience of working with housing associations and similar organisations and specific expertise in providing Board Member Training Needs Analyses and Skills Audits, Board Member Training. Our consultants are experienced in working with the RSL sector to coach and mentor, and develop Board and organisational performance. We have experience in providing this service to housing associations in Scotland and across the UK. Our team have in depth knowledge of the Affordable Housing sector across the UK and the regulatory regimes in which they operate. We have advised many RSLs in relation to Board Performance and Governance issues prior to regulatory intervention and following the issue of Governance Improvement Plans and we have an up to date understanding of the current regulatory requirements and guidelines.

Tenant Scrutiny

Our Director, Freya Lees, has worked with many local authorities in the provision of independent tenant advice, tenant and resident consultation and community engagement. All our research and consultancy studies involve tenant, resident and service user involvement and engagement to ensure an open, transparent and structured consultation process. Freya is currently working with the CIH and HouseMark to deliver the ‘Stepping Up To Scrutiny’ programme.

Homelessness

Our team are knowledgeable in the field of Homelessness and have recently worked with three local authorities to develop and prepare their Homelessness Strategies. This has included developing the role and remit of the Homelessness Forum and hosting launch events to support this. We are well versed in Homelessness legislation and Regulatory Requirements and have carried out a number of in depth Homeless Service reviews during the last year. These studies have examined how well service delivery meets legislative requirements and good practice. Our recommendations have included performance management, policy and procedure development and organisational structure solutions.

Strategy Development

We have carried out many research studies to support local authorities in the development of local Housing Strategies, have written local Housing Strategies on their behalf and has evaluated their processes and outcomes in developing and delivering strategy objectives. We have extensive experience in the analysis of housing need and demand data, including analysis of housing association and local authority housing management data.

Option Appraisal

The North Star team are experienced Option Appraisal consultants having completed many successful studies for the RSL and local authority housing sectors. Our experience includes appraisal of the options in relation to staffing structures and operational systems; strategic direction including mergers, acquisitions and group structures; feasibility studies and appraisal of future options for low demand housing stock.