Social housing regulation is coming soon – but when? And what are the implications?
We invited Will Perry, Director of Strategy at The Regulator of Social Housing to address your concerns and respond to your questions about the Social Housing White Paper. He joined us for an exclusive webinar presentation and Q&A about issues that matter most to you. We had a large volume of questions, and Will kindly provided his responses to questions we couldn’t get to in the time allotted.
Resident involvement / resident voices
Q. How can our customers get involved in shaping the new performance measures?
A. We will be seeking views from tenants, landlords and other stakeholders over the next few months. There will be a formal, statutory consultation open to all, and we will also work with tenant representative organisations and other tenant groups more informally around what regulation should be achieving in general and the TSMs (Tenant Satisfaction Measures) specifically. Some landlords have already offered us opportunities to talk to their tenant scrutiny panels or other groups, and we’re open to further offers as we develop our engagement work.
Q. The white paper says you will be speaking to the customers of the landlords during inspection – how will you do this to ensure the landlord doesn’t pick the customers you should speak to?
A. Good question, which I can’t specifically answer at the moment. However, it’s likely to involve following our assurance-based approach. I would suggest that the first question we ask is how a landlord has assured itself that it is meeting whatever the revised standards say about customer satisfaction and experience. We could then test that assurance – so if a landlord said that they have effective tenant consultation and scrutiny arrangements in place, we could talk to the tenant scrutiny panel about how they work, and cross refer that with meeting notes.
Tenant Satisfaction Measures (TSMs)
Q. What are your views on the TSMs focussing more on qualitative ‘transparent’ reporting that provides the assurance that the work is being done instead of a numbers approach?
A. TSMs are not the only source of information that we would use in assessing compliance with the standards. They’re intended to provide additional information to tenants (and are not the only source of information available to tenants) and potentially allow us to identify areas for particular attention.
Q. Is it fair to say that TSMs mean customer surveying will become a regulatory requirement in the context of GDPR?
A. The white paper’s draft TSMs include a number of tenant/customer satisfaction measures, and robust surveys are likely to be the most appropriate way of gathering these. So probably yes.
Q. With a potential cabinet reshuffle could this impact the timelines or indeed the content of any legislative changes?
A. The white paper should be a good steer on the Government’s intentions overall, some of which require changes to legislation. The parliamentary timetable is a matter for the Government which I can’t really speculate on. However, the parliamentary timetable is agreed by the government as a whole, and generally if there is a change of minister, they inherit the timetable.
Q. Do you have a view yet about how to manage any conflicts for local authority landlords between accountability to tenants and democratic accountability?
A. This is clearly going to be an area which we will need to consider in detail as we revise the standards and develop our operating approach. It can’t be answered in a sentence or two – a lot depends on what the understanding of accountability is. However, our role is to set standards and assess landlord compliance against them.
Need further guidance?
Our Definitive Guide to The Social Housing White Paper provides a summary of each white paper section, and the critical assessment questions you need to be asking now, to prepare for the future. Click to read the guide and for links to further white paper resources.