Today, the social housing sector provides homes to four million households, Many landlords provide a good service to their residents. They provide a decent, safe home, support thriving neighbourhoods and communities, and treat their residents with respect. But this is not true of all landlords.
The tragedy at Grenfell Tower in June 2017 raised critical questions for everyone involved in social housing. The Chair of the Public Inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire, Sir Martin Moore-Bick, identified broader questions on social housing policy, raised through the consultation on the Inquiry terms of reference. It was agreed that these broader questions should not be within the scope of the Inquiry itself.
Through the 2018 social housing Green Paper we sought views on a wide range of potential changes by talking to residents across the country, as well as launching a Call for Evidence about how social housing is regulated. Many residents reported positive experiences, but others did not. We heard concerns about safety, and about complaints being handled slowly or poorly; that residents were not listened to or not treated with basic courtesy and respect. This is why today I am delivering on our manifesto commitment and publishing the Social Housing White Paper: The Charter for Social Housing Residents.
This package of measures will ensure that there will be action for those landlords whose services fall below expectations so that they can be brought up to the level of those that we know already deliver a good service.
Summary of proposals
The White Paper establishes a new Charter for social housing residents, setting out what every social resident should be able to expect of their landlord:
- To be safe in their home. We will legislate to strengthen the Regulator of Social Housing’s consumer regulation objectives to explicitly include safety and to place an obligation on landlords to identify a nominated person responsible for ensuring compliance with health and safety requirements. We will support residents to have a stronger voice on safety matters and promote best practice on safety engagement with landlords.
- To know how their landlord is performing. We will establish tenant satisfaction measures for social landlords to report against on issues that matter to tenants. We will make sure landlords are reporting clearly on how they spend their income and introduce a new access to information scheme for housing association tenants.
- To have their complaints dealt with promptly and fairly. We will build on the changes we have already implemented with the Housing Ombudsman Service to improve its performance and reduce its decision times, ensuring swift and effective resolution of complaints. We will raise awareness of how residents can make and escalate complaints.
- To be treated with respect, backed by a strong consumer regulator for tenants. We will transform social housing regulation by creating a new, proactive consumer regulation regime for social housing, delivering robust oversight of all social landlords. This means establishing a new arm of the Regulator of Social Housing to regulate proactively on consumer standards including quality of homes, repairs, engagement with tenants and complaints handling.
- To have their voice heard by their landlord. We will empower residents by requiring landlords to improve tenant engagement. We will deliver a new opportunities and empowerment programme for social housing residents, to support them in engaging with landlords and holding them to account.
- To have a good quality home and neighbourhood to live in. We will encourage investment in neighbourhood, place and decency. We will review the Decent Homes Standard and boost the quality of, and access to, green spaces. We will tackle anti-social behaviour by enabling tenants to know who is responsible for action and who can support and assist them.
- To be supported to take their first step to ownership. We will enable delivery of good quality, affordable homes including the investment of £11.5 billion in the new Affordable Homes Programme to deliver up to 180,000 homes. The programme will unlock a further £38 billion in public and private investment in affordable housing. We are also introducing a new Affordable Homes Guarantee Scheme and implementing a new, fairer and more accessible model for Shared Ownership.
Alongside the Social Housing White Paper I am publishing the analysis of the consultation responses to the social housing Green Paper 2018 and to the Call for Evidence on the Government’s Review of Regulation 2018. I am also publishing a consultation on mandating smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in social rented homes.
RT HON ROBERT JENRICK MP