ARCH has submitted its response to the Social Housing Green
When first announced in September 2017 the
then Secretary of State, Sajid Javid, promised that the Social
Housing Green Paper "would be the most substantial report of its
kind for a generation" based on "a wide-ranging, top-to-bottom
review of the issues facing the sector". The Green Paper, when finally published
on 14 August contained a mixture of firm decisions, proposals and a
series of 48 specific questions for consultation.
Some of the key highlights in the Green Paper include:
- An announcement that the Government does not intend to
implement the Higher Value Assets Levy and forced sale of higher
value council housing, proposed under the Housing & Planning
Act 2016 and a promise to repeal the relevant legislation when
Parliamentary time allows.
- An announcement that the Government does not propose to
implement the mandatory fixed-term tenancies provisions of the
Housing and Planning Act 2016 "at this time"; but this wording
suggests that they may not be repealed.
- A strengthening of the role of the Social Housing Regulator and
proposals for a set of performance indicators, which would be
reported to the Social Housing Regulator, who would publish them in
a set of league tables.
- The canvassing of views on several proposals for reform of
arrangements for handling residents' complaints, including
statutory requirements on local authority complaints schemes,
scrapping or shortening the waiting period before a complaint can
be referred to the Housing Ombudsman, training for "designated
persons", and raising residents' awareness of how to make and
- A commitment to tackling the stigma attached to social housing,
with proposals for a "best neighbourhood" competition and steps to
improve the customer service and neighbourhood management provided
by all social landlords.
- The potential re-introduction of stock transfer for council
housing to "community led" housing associations, reform of the
Right to Manage arrangements, or other measures, in giving tenants
more choice and control over the services they receive.
- A question as to whether the Decent Homes Standard needs to be
revised or updated in the light of Grenfell and other developments
- The potential introduction of debt funding and longer term
"strategic partnerships" to help housing associations develop
- Further promotion of shared ownership by allowing tenants to
purchase as little as 1% share in their home.
Conspicuous by its absence in the Green Paper was any proposal
for further lifting of Housing Revenue Account debt caps, to allow
councils to borrow prudentially against their assets and future
rental income streams to fund further investment in the existing
stock and the building of new council housing. However, the Prime
Minister subsequently announced at the Conservative Party
Conference that the
Government intended to scrap the HRA borrowing cap.
The scrapping of the HRA borrowing cap was subsequently
confirmed in the 2018 Budget and the HRA cap that controls local
authority borrowing for house building was abolished, with effect
from 29 October 2018.
The Green Paper also proposed the setting up of a pilot with a
small group of social landlords, who would innovate and trial
options for communicating and engaging with residents on safety
issues. ARCH was contacted by officials from MHCLG seeking to
facilitate arrangements for site visits to a number of local
authorities with high rise blocks and on 26 October, the Government
issued a formal invitation for expressions of interest from social
housing landlords to participate in a Social Sector (Building Safety) Engagement Best
The Regulator of Social Housing invited the ARCH Chief Executive
to a meeting on 31 October to discuss the Green Paper and in
particular the elements of the Green Paper regarding future
regulation of the sector. We have extended an invitation to the
Regulator to attend a future meeting of the ARCH Board and the ARCH
Tenant Group to discuss regulation and performance indicators.
We have also continued dialogue with HouseMark, the National
Federation of ALMOS (NFA), Councils with ALMOs Group (CWAG) on how
the sector might develop a workable set of performance indicators
and have involved the Local Government Association (LGA), National
Housing Federation (NHF) and the Housing Ombudsman in those
In preparing our response to the Green Paper, we issued
invitations via email to ARCH member councils to submit their views
The ARCH Tenant Group was also invited to consider the Green
Paper and input their views and comments, to help prepare the
formal ARCH response and a special meeting of the ARCH Tenant Group
was held on 15 October.
A workshop for ARCH Board members was subsequently held on 19
October to consider the response to the 48 questions posed in the
Green Paper and the ARCH Tenant Group's views were fed into that
A final draft response to the questions was circulated to Board
members for comment prior to formulating the final ARCH response to
the Green Paper.
Read the ARCH response to the Green