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The Charter for Social Housing Residents – Social Housing White Paper 19/11/2020 Labelled as Legislation, Regulation

The Government has published its long-awaited Social Housing White Paper on 17 November 2020. The White Paper, labelled as a "Charter for Social Housing Residents" sets out a range of measures to strengthen the regulation of social landlords and empower tenants and residents to hold their landlord to account and obtain redress where service falls below standards expected.


The White Paper notes that councils in England provide homes to over 1.6 million households, adding: "This Government has been clear that we want to see councils build more homes and has made this possible through removing restrictions on their borrowing so they can invest". However, it gives no indication that the Government will introduce further measures to increase the supply of council housing and goes on to say: "We want housing associations to build yet more homes and to deliver their mission of charitable purpose combined with the best customer service of the private sector".


The White Paper acknowledges that many landlords provide a good service but argues some do not and sets out a 7-point charter specifying what every social housing resident should be able to expect and lists a series of measures the Government proposes to take to ensure its 7 point charter is met including:


  • Legislation to strengthen the consumer regulation function of the Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) so that it can proactively monitor and drive landlord compliance with its consumer standards.
  • Routine inspections of all social landlords will be reintroduced; inspections will be prioritised according to risk but with the expectation that every landlord with over 1000 homes will be subject to inspection by the RSH every 4 years.
  • Landlords will be required to identify a senior person in their organisation responsible for ensuring they comply with the consumer standards set by the Regulator and also to identify a senior person responsible for safety of tenants and residents.
  • The Regulator will bring in a set of key performance indicators, including tenant satisfaction measures and financial information (including information on executive remuneration), on which landlords will be expected to report to every tenant at least once a year.
  • The Housing Ombudsman's recently enhanced powers and new Complaints Handling Code will be kept under review, along with the possibility of strengthening them through legislation to put the Code on a statutory footing.
  • The Government will run an awareness campaign so that social tenants know their rights, are confident in navigating complaints processes and know where to go for redress where needed.
  • The RSH will require landlords to seek out best practice and consider how they can continually improve the way they engage with social housing residents.
  • The Decent Homes Standard will be reviewed to consider whether it should be updated, including how it can better support the decarbonisation and energy efficiency of social homes, and improve communal and green spaces.
  • There will be a review of professional training and development to ensure residents receive a high standard of customer service.
  • The Government will deliver a new empowerment programme to support tenants and residents to take part in scrutiny activities.
  • Alongside the White Paper, the Government is consulting on a proposal to require local authorities to provide smoke and carbon monoxide alarms to all dwellings, on the same basis as private landlords are currently required to; the consultation Is open until 11 January 2021 and Government will consult later on measures to improve electrical safety in the home.


The Social Housing White Paper- The Charter for Social Housing Residents is available to download on the Government website.


ARCH Policy Adviser Matthew Warburton has provided an ARCH Briefing Paper for ARCH members on the measures set out in the White Paper and what they will mean for council landlords and their tenants and residents.


ARCH has published an initial response to the Social Housing White Paper and the  ARCH Executive Board and ARCH Tenant Group will be considering their detailed reaction to the Social Housing White Paper at their next meetings and the Regulator for Social Housing has already been in contact with ARCH Chief Executive John Bibby to arrange a meeting to discuss the response to the White Paper and the next steps.  

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