Tpas response to Green Paper announcement
Wednesday 27th of September 2017
Sajid Javid announces new Green Paper on Social Housing Last week, at the National Housing Federation Conference, Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, announced a new Green Paper on social housing.
He said there needs to be a “fundamental rethink of social housing in this country” and promised a “wide-ranging, top to bottom review” of the issues facing the social housing sector.
The Green Paper will not only look at the safety of social housing following the Grenfell Tower fire, it will also cover the quality of social homes, “many of which are now beginning to show their age”.
Of course Tpas welcomes this announcement… but with an element of frustration too. We welcome anything that throws a much needed focus and spotlight on social housing. Its progress indeed from our perspective. It has felt like that for the past 2-3 years at least we, and others, have been talking into a vacuum about the need for more social housing or the need for tenants to have a meaningful voice within their organisations.
Over the past few years, there has been virtually no talk from Government (or to be fair until fairly recently, the opposition parties either) on social housing and many in the housing sector have seemed more focused on new and different tenures and new development rather than championing a valued tenure we already have.
The focus has been on home ownership not on social rent. Tpas have seen many organisations that have reduced or completely cut their investment in involvement and others who have seemed to us to have lost their way, lost their focus, in terms of engaging with their residents and communities.
So given all that, Tpas wants to see this Green Paper deliver. This Green Paper needs to be bold and to deliver the vision, action and hope that so many current and future tenants need. It needs to articulate, and then implement, the important role social housing has in our economy and our communities. Surely all politicians now recognise that?
Much has been done before. There has been plenty of research done, plenty of consultations, plenty of high level meetings and roundtables. What I hear up and down the country from tenants and communities is that talk has got to translate more quickly into action and change.
The financial, regulatory, social and crucially the business case for tenant engagement has been made many many times already over the years. Nothing has changed; involving the people who receive services is a proven and sound way to help landlords refine, reimagine or be more efficient in those services.
How we deliver tenant and community engagement can, and will change, but for me the principle has never been in any doubt. Cutting back on engagement may save money in the short term but long term it costs so much more in terms of inefficient investment, decreased satisfaction, disconnected communities and yes, ultimately as we have seen, people’s health and safety.
The recent speeches and actions from Sajid Javid and Alok Sharma are most positive and here at Tpas we will continue to do all we can to assist and respond.
But I think the greatest role Tpas can play now is to ensure this momentum does not dissipate. The ongoing housing crisis, coupled with the tragic events at Grenfell, means we simply cannot let that happen. We will be letting down so many of our communities, a whole generation. There has been so much achieved by organisations that have embraced tenant engagement and made a long term investment and commitment in their communities.
Let’s get that evidence out there, let’s respond to the Green Paper but then let’s get on quickly with delivering a social housing policy that this country should be proud of.