In 2021, government began an inquiry into the regulation of social housing, covering both the Regulator of Social Housing and Housing Ombudsman. As part of the inquiry, the Committee issued a call for written evidence. SHAC was invited to respond. We submitted a written response and also gave evidence in person to the Inquiry.
The very first paragraph in the Call for Evidence document states that:
“The Social Housing Green Paper published today offers a new deal for social housing … A robust regulatory framework is essential to this by ensuring that existing homes are safe, of good quality, and that landlords deliver the right services. It is also crucial in attracting investment to build new social housing so that hardworking people and our more vulnerable citizens have access to safe, decent and affordable homes.”LUHC Inquiry into Social Housing – Call for Evidence
The starting point for our response, as always, came from our members. By email and in meetings, our members repeatedly describe how housing associations are too often failing to provide safe, of good quality housing, and appropriate services to their tenants and residents, and despite all the public funds poured into them, fail to guarantee access to safe, decent affordable homes in sufficient numbers to those who need them.
However, the problem is structural and enfolds every part of the UK housing market. The Regulatory Framework alone cannot address all the problems afflicting social housing tenants and residents. The Regulator (RSH) is only one part of the picture.
In order to address the current the failings in the system, government would have to enact widespread structural changes to funding streams, and to statutory bodies such as the RSH, and Housing Ombudsman, and vastly improve the legal protections for tenants and residents.
Our written submission therefore addressed these points and how they relate to social housing regulation.
The submission will form part of the evidence considered by government ahead of any reforms to the roles of Regulator and Ombudsman. We will continue to post updates on any new legislation or policies.
17 January 2022
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The views expressed in this article are the author’s own.