The government released its Social Housing White Paper – ‘The Charter for Social Housing Residents’. The White Paper sets out reforms to ‘provide greater redress, better regulation and improve the quality of social housing’ in England.
The proposals in the White Paper reflect responses to the social housing green paper published in 2018, in which residents from across the country were asked for their views on social housing. Almost 1,000 tenants shared their views with ministers at 14 events across the country, with over 7,000 submitting evidence online. The social housing green paper consultation response and response to the call for evidence on the review of regulation have been published.
The White Paper proposes the following policy measures:
Guaranteeing building safety
•Legislate to strengthen the Regulator of Social Housing’s consumer regulation objectives to explicitly include safety.
•Legislate to require social landlords to identify a nominated person responsible for complying with their health and safety requirements.
•Expect the Regulator of Social Housing to prepare a Memorandum of Understanding with the Health and Safety Executive to ensure effective sharing of information with the Building Safety Regulator.
•Launch a consultation on requiring smoke alarms in social housing and introducing new expectations for carbon monoxide alarms.
•Consult on measures to ensure that social housing residents are protected from harm caused by poor electrical safety.
•Continue to work with the Social Sector (Building Safety) Engagement Best Practice Group and the Building Safety Regulator to ensure resident voices are heard.
Encouraging good landlord performance
•Create a set of tenant satisfaction measures for landlords on things that matter to tenants.
•Introduce a new access to information scheme for social housing tenants of housing associations and other private registered providers of social housing, so that information relating to landlords is easily available.
•Ensure landlords provide a clear breakdown of how their income is being spent.
•Require landlords to identify a senior person in their organisation who is responsible for ensuring they comply with the consumer standards set by the Regulator of Social Housing.
Improving the handling of complaints
•Provide residents with consistency across landlord complaint handling by ensuring landlords self-assess against the Housing Ombudsman’s.
•Complaint Handling Code by 31 December 2020.
•Ensure tenants know how to raise complaints and have confidence in the system by launching a communications campaign. The Government will expect landlords, the Housing Ombudsman and the Building Safety Regulator to ensure residents have clear and up to date information on how to complain.
•Legislate to ensure clear co-operation between the Housing Ombudsman and the Regulator of Social Housing to hold landlords to account more effectively when things go wrong.
•Make landlords more accountable for their actions by publicising the details of cases determined and published by the Housing Ombudsman.
Holding landlords to account
•Transform the consumer regulation role of the Regulator of Social Housing (‘the regulator’) so it proactively monitors and drives landlords’ compliance with improved consumer standards.
•Remove the ‘serious detriment test’ and introduce routine inspections for the largest landlords (those with over 1,000 homes) every four years.
•Change the regulator’s objectives to explicitly cover safety and transparency, and work with it to review its consumer standards to ensure they are up to date and deliver its revised objectives.
•Give the regulator the power to publish a Code of Practice on the consumer standards to be clear what landlords are required to deliver.
•Strengthen the regulator’s enforcement powers to tackle failing landlords and to respond to new challenges facing the sector.
•Hold local authorities to account as landlords, including how they manage Arms-Length Management Organisations and Tenant Management Organisations, to make sure they deliver a good service to tenants.
•Require the regulator to set up an Advisory Committee to provide independent and unbiased advice on discharging its functions.
Strengthening resident engagement
•Expect the regulator to require landlords to seek out best practice and consider how they can continually improve the way they engage with social housing tenants.
•Deliver a new opportunities and empowerment programme for social housing residents, to support more effective engagement between landlords and residents, and to give residents tools to influence their landlords and hold them to account.
•Review professional training and development to ensure residents receive a high standard of customer service.
Ensuring good quality homes and neighbourhoods
•Review the Decent Homes Standard, including access to and the quality of green spaces.
•Tackle anti-social behaviour by enabling tenants to know who is responsible for action and who can support and assist them if they are faced with antisocial behaviour.
•Consider the results of the allocations evidence collection exercise findings to ensure that housing is allocated in the fairest way possible and achieves the best outcomes for local places and communities.
Supporting home ownership
•Investing £11.5 billion to build up to 180,000 affordable homes. Around half of these new homes will be for affordable home ownership.
•Implementing a new, fairer and more accessible model for Shared Ownership.
•Implementing a new Right to Shared Ownership for tenants of housing associations and other private registered providers who live in new grant funded homes for rent.
•Emphasising through a new National Design Guide the importance of building beautiful and well-designed social homes.
•Introducing a new Affordable Homes Guarantee Scheme.
•Encouraging local authorities to take advantage of the removal of the borrowing cap to build more council homes.