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
- 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
- The Government will deliver a new empowerment programme to
support tenants and residents to take part in scrutiny
- 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
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.
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.