Last week the Tenant Services Authority ceased to be.
Among its last acts was publication of a revised regulatory
framework which prescribes a much more limited role for the
regulator in enforcing tenancy standards.
The HCA, in its new regulatory capacity, will only intervene in
the event of a failure to meet one of the regulatory standards if
there is a risk that it would cause "serious detriment" to
tenants. This is a tough test which means that the regulator
is likely to take action in only a tiny percentage of failures to
The HCA's primary focus as regulator will be economic regulation;
in other words, work to reassure lenders that housing associations
are safe places to put their money. As previously, this
economic regulatory role does not extend to councils.
Yet councils have just taken on all the new risks associated
If the government has stepped back from regulation of council
housing, is there a case for councils to take on responsibility for
self-regulation? Now is certainly a good time for councils
individually to take a fresh look at their arrangements for
performance management and the governance and scrutiny of the
housing service, and reassure themselves that they are providing
the best possible service to tenants.
But there is also a major opportunity for the sector collectively
to demonstrate that it can ensure - more effectively than
government or an external regulator - that standards are met
and good practice spread to every council. The case for
self-regulation is that it can provide reassurance to tenants - and
the public more generally - that high standards will be met and
poor performance tackled in every area, and remove the temptation
for future governments to intervene or over-regulate. The
fact that councils would be "doing it for themselves" is also
likely to be more effective in inspiring commitment and support for
That is why ARCH looks forward to working with the LGA, CIH and
CIPFA over the coming months to explore how arrangements for
self-regulation might be taken forward, including the development
of a voluntary Code of Practice for council housing.