After an extended wait, the social housing white paper was finally published on 17 November, although it didn’t quite get the fanfare arrival many in social housing were expecting. Even with the backdrop of the ongoing Grenfell enquiry and a prime slot on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Robert Jenrick struggled to cut through the Whitehall distractions to land his commentary on the paper’s launch; it’s arrival on the public scene was somewhat unexpectedly muted.
Luckily, the lowkey publication didn’t pass everyone by, and here at IFF we’ve been working away behind the scenes to outline its implications for social landlords, with the aim to make it as easy as possible for you to understand and act on the upcoming changes.
The paper is hefty, which is why we distilled it into an easily digestible 12-page guide for landlords. At over 76 pages, it describes a framework of safety, performance and engagement protocols delivered by a range of government bodies, most notably, an increased role for both The Regulator of Social Housing and The Housing Ombudsman.
Social Housing White Paper: Key Themes and Implications for Social Landlords
With 7 wide-ranging themes, this charter is the next step in the complex journey to rebalance the relationship that residents have with their landlords.
Chapter 1: To be safe in your home
Since the tragedy at Grenfell, many safety issues have already begun remediation – and the paper sets out how to address hearing resident concerns on safety as well as acting on them. Focus areas include rebuilding resident trust in building safety measures and ensuring that residents ‘feel safe’ and ‘are safe’.
Chapter 2: To know how your landlord is performing
Avoiding the dreaded league tables all together, landlords will still need to provide accessible performance information. And, as anticipated, regulated KPIs are back – we’ve included a table of these in our white paper summary guide.
Chapter 3: To have your complaints dealt with promptly and fairly
Complaints is a hot topic with a lot of points you can action now. On the morning of the webinar, The Ombudsman launched their consultation on their 2021-22 business plan and their strengthened relationship with The Regulator. Don’t forget you need to self-assess against the new complaints handling code by 31 December.
Chapter 4: To be treated with respect, backed by a strong consumer regulator for tenants
Although the new consumer standards code of practice needs to be written by The Regulator, the key takeaway is the return to regulatory inspections at least every 4 years. More frequently if risks are identified.
Chapter 5: To have your voice heard by your landlord
The charter outlines the importance of tailoring engagement opportunities to residents’ needs and interests, encouraging and supporting greater involvement. Not forgetting informal interactions – residents shouldn’t have to attend formal meetings or join a panel to be heard.
Chapter 6: To have a good quality home and neighbourhood to live in
As anticipated the decent homes standard is to be reviewed, potentially taking into account wider issues such as energy efficiency and access to outdoor space as well as the quality and maintenance of the home itself. For many, residents satisfaction with their neighbourhoods means tackling anti-social behaviour. The charter also cites the importance of encouraging community integration amongst mixed tenures.
Chapter 7: To be supported to take your first steps to ownership
The final chapter focuses on increasing supply of affordable homes, and in particular, introducing the ‘Right to Shared Ownership’. With the frequent low level of satisfaction exhibited within shared ownership customers, this will likely be a key focus of customer satisfaction and insight managers going forward.
Wondering what to do next?
If you’re wondering what this means for you and your organisation, or where you should start, then you’re not alone. Many of our housing partners have expressed a need for more clarity and support in moving forwards.
So, during a recent webinar, our housing team broke the charter down by chapter, analysing the contents, while pulling out the parts that really matter. This discussion included recommendations for action plans you can start today.
Don’t miss the Q&A section, where they answered key questions from social housing landlords.