Three new London Boroughs join Capital Letters

Capital Letters Cityscape

Three new London Boroughs join Capital Letters

5th June 2020

Capital Letters’ membership now consists 50% (16) of London Boroughs.

Capital Letters, a not-for-profit company, set up to prevent and relieve homelessness across the capital, welcomes Enfield, Hackney and Newham to their membership.

All three London Boroughs joined Capital Letters from April with plans for them to become fully operational by June whilst we work through the implications of COVID-19 on our service.

Chief Executive, Sue Coulson said: “We are delighted that 50% of London Boroughs are now members of the company, giving us a much stronger foothold in the market and therefore the ability to drive benefits for our members. Capital Letters mission is to work in partnership and collaboratively to solve the homelessness crisis in London and working with as many members as possible is how we can achieve this ambition – encouraging new members to join the company is an essential part of this.

“These new members are fundamental to our growth and our plans to procure and manage over 20,000 properties for homeless households over the next three years. One of our guiding principles is to assist member boroughs to reduce the costs of homeless provision – the more members we have, the greater the opportunity to control the market and drive down costs. It also means that our tenancy sustainment service will be extended to more households who need it, supporting more families to stay in secure homes

“We are continuously working to increase our membership and aim to have 26 London Boroughs by 2022 to continue to reduce councils’ costs and keeping families close to their communities and successfully maintaining their tenancies.”

If you are a London Borough and would like to know more about Capital Letters or how you can become a member, please email: sue.Coulson@capitalletters.org.uk or contact us

 

Capital Letters announces two new senior appointments

Capital Letters Cityscape

Capital Letters announces two new senior appointments

5th June 2020

Capital Letters, a not-for-profit company, owned by 16 London boroughs to prevent and relieve homelessness across the capital, has appointed a new Director of Operations – Elizabeth Harper and a Head of Acquisitions – Roy Dunbar.

 

Over the next three years, Capital Letters plans to procure over 20,000 properties for homeless households, reducing member councils’ costs and keeping families close to their communities – something which has often been very hard for London boroughs to do.

Elizabeth Harper has been appointed to lead Capital Letters’ operations, including procurement of homes for homeless households and our vital tenancy sustainment service as well as the development of our housing management and customer services. Elizabeth has a background in social and supported housing and joined Capital Letters in March as part of the Executive Team led by Sue Coulson, Chief Executive.

Director of Operations, Elizabeth Harper, said: “Having spent the majority of my career working to deliver excellent outcomes for homeless people I am very pleased to be part of this innovative company and to assist our member boroughs to address some of the intractable issues facing them. I am focussed on leading the team to bring the best experience for our borough members, the landlords we work with and – most importantly – supporting households to sustain their tenancies in our endeavour to house London’s homeless families.”

Head of Acquisitions, which is a new position at Capital Letters responsible for the procurement service, has been taken up by Roy Dunbar. Roy, who joined the team in April, has extensive experience of procuring accommodation for homeless households having worked in this area for a number years and for a range of London Boroughs. We are delighted that he has joined us at an important time in our development as we welcome 3 new London borough members to the Capital Letters family and step up our activities as a consequence. Roy’s timing couldn’t have been better as we are also now supporting our member boroughs to procure homes to enable them to house rough sleepers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chief Executive, Sue Coulson said: “With Elizabeth and Roy now in post, we will be able to accelerate our procurement activities and provide the best possible service for our members and the people they house. I am delighted to have them both on our team. Both have a wealth of experience which is essential to the growth of Capital Letters and essential to ensure we achieve our targets and that our tenancy sustainment service is best in class, enabling families to successfully secure their future and put down roots in their communities.”

 

 

Meet our Landlords: Sukesh Bowry

Sukesh Bowry

Meet our Landlords: Sukesh Bowry

23rd April 2020

We have been working closely with Sukesh on his property that he was keen to let to a family to help with the shortage of affordable homes in London. Sukesh’s property, that was transformed into an amazing family home, was also aired on the infamous BBC One Homes Under the Hammer show.

Check it out here.

Here’s what Sukesh said about working with Capital Letters:

 

“I have chosen to work with Capital Letters, in directly helping homeless families. The service they offer is head and shoulders above the competition.”

 

Sukesh Bowry

 

If you have a property that you would like to let with us contact us on: info@capitalletters.org.uk

Tenancy Sustainment during COVID-19 outbreak

Block of flats

Tenancy Sustainment during COVID-19 outbreak

24th March 2020

Following the developing situation in respect of the coronavirus, and the most recent advice given by the Government, Capital Letters have made some decisions in regard to the services we offer.

We have closed the main office but will continue to conduct ‘business as usual’ and customers can continue to contact us TenancyManagementSustainment@capitalletters.org.uk

What are we doing to protect customers?

Our top priority during this period of uncertainty is our customers and our workforce.

We have begun to implement contingency plans to reduce face-to-face contact in the hope that by taking these actions now we can continue to provide as many of the services we do normally, for as long as we can.

We are still able to handle day-to-day enquiries, but we may deal with them in a different way to how we have done previously.

We thank our customers for their patience during this very difficult period – by being positive and working together we can get through this.

What if I have difficulties paying my rent?

We understand that the coronavirus is likely to affect lots of people in different ways, and we are here to help you where we can.

If you have concerns about your rent or help making sure you are receiving any benefits you are entitled to please call us on 020 3906 7460

or email our tenancy management & sustainment team on TenancyManagementSustainment@capitalletters.org.uk

The Government has posted information on the coronavirus and claiming benefits which may be helpful to you here: https://www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/coronavirus/

Information

There is a lot of information about the coronavirus online.

If you are concerned you could have the virus or want more information, then please go to see the advice on the NHS website here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

And further information is also available on the Government’s main website here: https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/coronavirus-covid-19-uk-government-response

Capital Letters open for business with launch of new website on World Homeless Day

Capital Letters Cityscape

Capital Letters open for business with launch of new website on #WorldHomelessDay

10th October 2019

Capital Letters – the new organisation to prevent and relieve homelessness across London – is delighted to announce the launch of its new website on World Homeless Day, making it very definitely open for business.

The company was set up by 13 London boroughs with support from the Ministry of Housing, Communities, and Local Government, to speed up the procurement of rental accommodation for homeless households, ensuring a better experience for those affected.

In the three months since Capital Letters’ first employee – chief executive officer Sue Coulson – was appointed, this start-up company has been actively gearing up to deliver on its mission.

Housing negotiators have been seconded from the London boroughs of Brent, Croydon, Hammersmith & Fulham, Haringey, Redbridge and Waltham Forest, with others set to join over the next few weeks. The Executive Team is also in post, along with a growing team of housing management, HR, PR and office support staff.

As well as the secondees, Capital Letters is actively recruiting a significant number of housing negotiators of its own, with the first already in post. All the team are proactively finding much needed homes for homeless households across London.

Crucially, Capital Letters will be placing homeless households as close to their home borough and support networks as possible to prevent social isolation, job loss and children having to change schools. A new tenancy support service is also being established to ensure tenants are given the help they need to sustain their tenancy in the long term and landlords are supported throughout.

Capital Letters has chosen #WorldHomelessDay to launch this website to draw attention to homeless people’s needs locally.

Chief executive officer, Sue Coulson, said: “We are a crucial part of the jigsaw to prevent homelessness and to improve the lives of homeless households across London. The work we do is essential to strengthening communities and supporting sustainable tenancies.

“Over the next three years we will be placing 20,000 homeless households in quality rented accommodation that is close to their families, jobs, schools and support networks, helping them to maintain their community ties and provide safe, secure homes.

“We would be delighted to hear from any landlords or managing agents who have properties available as we are ready to take them on.”

Note to editors:

Capital Letters is owned by the 13 London boroughs who set it up and supported by £38m of grant funding from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

As a social purpose housing company, limited by guarantee, it was set up to procure and manage accommodation from private landlords and managing agents to prevent and alleviate homelessness across the capital, as well as ensuring a better experience for those affected.

The launch of Capital Letters was co-ordinated by the umbrella body London Councils and the London Housing Directors’ Group and represents a significant step forward for the boroughs’ collaborative approach to tackling homelessness. The scheme is one of London Councils’ Pledges to Londoners, a series of pan-London priorities that borough leaders aim to make progress on over the next three years.

For further information contact: Communications adviser Marina Pirotta on 07980 571886

More news and blogs

Capital Letters starts securing accommodation for homeless Londoners

Capital letters family hero

Capital Letters starts securing accommodation for homeless Londoners

26 June 2019

A new not-for-profit company set up by 13 London boroughs has begun procuring accommodation for homeless Londoners.

Capital Letters, which is collectively owned by the boroughs and supported by £38 million of grant funding from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, was established in December 2018 to improve the procurement and management of properties in London for alleviating and preventing homelessness, as well as ensuring a better experience for those affected.

This collaborative approach will enable boroughs to access more accommodation across London and will provide a framework for placing households as close as possible to their home borough and support networks.

This week in June 2019, Capital Letters secured its first home in Tower Hamlets, with many more expected to be procured in the coming months.

The news comes as Capital Letters unveils its senior leadership team. Sue Coulson has been appointed Chief Executive. Sue has spent many years in leadership roles in the housing sector, including previously working at Rentplus UK and housing associations such as DCH, emh Group, and Orbit, having started her career at Coventry City Council.

Philip Smith has been appointed Director of Finance and Resources. This follows twenty years’ experience in the housing sector as a Finance Director and in other senior roles with Network, Aldwyck and CHS. Prior to this he worked in the commercial sector, including in property, construction and sales.

With 13 London boroughs formally becoming founding members in March 2019, the launch of Capital Letters has been co-ordinated by the umbrella body London Councils and the London Housing Directors’ Group. Capital Letters is currently based at London Councils’ offices in Southwark Street.

Cllr Darren Rodwell, London Councils’ Executive Member for Housing & Planning, said:

“It’s brilliant news that Capital Letters has started securing accommodation for homeless Londoners.

“Capital Letters shows that boroughs are committed to working together to secure better results for our residents. We’re really pleased to have the government’s support for this vital work as it gets underway.

“With London’s homelessness rates skyrocketing, Capital Letters represents exactly the sort of bold, innovative thinking that’s needed to reduce costs in procuring the accommodation that homeless Londoners and those at risk of homelessness need.”

Sue Coulson, Chief Executive of Capital Letters, said:

“I’m thrilled to have joined Capital Letters and to be leading this important venture. London faces a worsening homelessness crisis, and Capital Letters has a crucial role to play in improving housing options for homeless Londoners.

“Capital Letters is an exciting and innovative new approach, and I look forward to working with the boroughs, our partners and stakeholders to ensure that Capital Letters is a success. Capital Letters will make a real difference to people’s lives – and that’s a huge motivation for me as I lead its development over the coming months and years.”

Mark Baigent, Chair of the Capital Letters Board, said:

“Capital Letters is a gamechanger in how we secure accommodation for those in housing need.

“It’s fantastic that Sue is now in post and that Capital Letters has begun procuring accommodation on behalf of its member boroughs. We’re hugely pleased by the progress that has been made in getting Capital Letters off the ground.”

Capital Letters represents a significant step forward for the boroughs’ collaborative approach to tackling homelessness. The scheme is one of London Councils’ Pledges to Londoners, a series of pan-London priorities that borough leaders aim to make progress on over the next three years.

More news and blogs

Boroughs formally join Capital Letters collaborative programme

Building aspect

Boroughs formally join Capital Letters collaborative programme

14th March 2019

London boroughs have reached a major milestone in establishing a collaborative new approach to supporting homeless households. 

13 boroughs have formally become founding members of Capital Letters, a not-for-profit company that will procure accommodation for homeless Londoners and those at risk of homelessness. 

Capital Letters, which is collectively owned by the boroughs and supported by £38 million of grant funding from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, aims to improve the availability of housing options by reducing competition between councils. 

This collaborative approach will enable boroughs to access more accommodation across London and will provide a framework for placing households as close as possible to their home borough.  

The establishment of Capital Letters has been coordinated by the London Housing Directors’ Group and London Councils. The scheme aims to start procuring properties by June 2019 and it is expected that other boroughs will become members in future. 

Cllr Darren Rodwell, London Councils’ Executive Member for Housing & Planning, said: 

“Capital Letters is an innovative new approach to addressing London’s homelessness crisis. 

“Through working together, boroughs will strengthen our market position and secure better housing options for homeless Londoners. London has the highest levels of homelessness in the country and boroughs are determined to improve outcomes for homeless Londoners.” 

At the inaugural meeting of Capital Letters, Cllr Stephanie Cryan (Southwark) was elected to chair the Capital Letters Boroughs’ Representative Body. Cllr Sirajul Islam (Tower Hamlets) and Cllr Alex Sawyer (Bexley) were appointed as vice chairs. 

Cllr Stephanie Cryan, Cabinet Member for Housing Management and Modernisation at Southwark Council, said: 

“Capital Letters is an exciting project and shows boroughs’ commitment to finding new solutions to London’s homelessness challenge. I look forward to seeing Capital Letters progress over the coming months and start delivering the benefits boroughs are so keen to achieve.” 

The Boroughs’ Representative Body will be responsible for formulating the strategy and business plan of Capital Letters, and is made up of political representatives from each of the member boroughs. 

Mark Baigent, interim Director of Housing and Regeneration at Tower Hamlets, was appointed chair of the Capital Letters Board of Directors. The Board of Directors holds responsibility for the operational delivery of strategic objectives, set by the Boroughs’ Representative Body. 

£38 million to boost accommodation for London’s homeless

London Properties

£38 million to boost accommodation for London's homeless

31st December 2018

Thousands of extra homes will be made available for vulnerable Londoners at risk of becoming homeless, Communities Secretary Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP has announced today (31 December 2018). 

Through an innovative new scheme – the first of its kind – London boroughs join forces to provide safe accommodation for families on the edge of homelessness, backed by almost £38 million of funding from the government’s £1.2 billion overall investment in tackling homelessness. 

The additional homes will help provide a long-term, stable solution for vulnerable families struggling to find secure accommodation, providing a safety net for those who may otherwise feel they have nowhere else to go. 

Currently, all London boroughs are responsible for providing accommodation for those at risk of homelessness both inside and outside their area. However, this can often lead to areas competing for the best accommodation – driving up prices and slowing down the provision of quality housing for the most vulnerable. 

The new scheme will stop this from happening by encouraging London boroughs to work together in boosting accommodation to tackle homelessness across the capital. 

Communities Secretary Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP said: 

Everyone deserves a safe and secure home. I’ve seen for myself how hard each of the London boroughs works to provide those that are homeless with the support they need and a roof over their heads. 

This radical new way of working and unprecedented collaboration between the boroughs and government will make a real difference – providing more accommodation for the vulnerable and helping them to get back on their feet and away from homelessness for good. 

Councillor Darren Rodwell, London Councils’ Executive Member for Housing & Planning, said: 

With so many homeless households and so little accommodation available, London faces the country’s most serious homelessness challenge. 

Capital Letters is a crucial opportunity to do things differently – and we are extremely pleased to have the government’s support for this innovative work. 

Through collaboration, boroughs will collectively strengthen our market position and secure much better housing options for homeless Londoners. 

To date, 11 London boroughs have signed up to the scheme, with more expected to come on board in the future. Over the next three years, the scheme is expected to help over 35,000 households within Greater London out of homelessness. 

London Councils are now working to establish the not-for-profit company who will deliver the Capital Letters programme. They will be tasked with providing this vital service on behalf of the boroughs and will undertake the management of the homes which are provided. 

The joined-up approach will also give those at risk of homelessness the chance to stay closer to where they currently live, meaning that disruption to their employment or education can be reduced during what is already a difficult time. 

Capital Letters is being supported by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government as part of the government’s commitment to addressing homelessness and encouraging collaborative solutions to tackle the issue. 

Further information 

Government funding of £37.8 million has been allocated over the next 3 years to 2022 to support this programme. 

A group of 11 boroughs will join Capital Letters initially, with others expected to become members at a later stage. 

These boroughs are: 

  • Tower Hamlets 
  • Bexley 
  • Haringey 
  • Waltham Forest 
  • Brent 
  • Ealing 
  • Barking and Dagenham 
  • Croydon 
  • Lewisham 
  • Redbridge 
  • Southwark 

Capital Letters has a social mission. All members of the Capital Letters team are part of an efficient, effective, and dynamic service helping homeless Londoners. Through working in partnership, Capital Letters is at the forefront of tackling London’s homelessness crisis. 

London Councils represents London’s 32 boroughs and the City of London. It is a cross-party organisation that works on behalf of all of its member authorities regardless of political persuasion. Read more about London Councils