"What I expect from the Housing Green Paper"
Monday 25th of June 2018
We asked Tpas board member and resident involvement manager at PA Housing, what he is expecting and hoping will come from the Housing Green Paper.
There are so many issues the government needs to get to grips with that you can almost understand their nervousness about publishing the document. There have also been a number of surveys recently which I’m sure are highlighting the need for more homes.
As someone who has worked in resident involvement for over 30 years I have no doubt that empowerment must be at the centre of any plans to improve the consumer standards.
Unfortunately involvement has slipped down the agenda for too many landlords since 2010 – the abolition of the TSA with only piece meal guidance as a replacement has not been good enough. The consumer standards need to have teeth – Scrutiny has been a force for good in many landlords and this needs to be rolled out to every landlord.
Beyond empowerment residents need to be involved in the safety plans for their homes. There needs to be a real power that if residents have concerns that someone is listening to them – ideally this should be a duty on the landlord. But does there need to be an independent agency for those who wont listen? There has been a breakdown in trust in some areas – and the only way to repair that is to ensure there is transparency for tenants groups.
Tenants need to have confidence that landlords will commit to this – and that the government will not take kindly to landlords who resist. Tpas used to run an information service – with support from the housing Corporation. It is definitely time to look again at how tenants groups get access to quality independent advice. This can help both tenants and landlords.
I’m pretty sure the previous minister heard a lot of this at his “listening” events – I hope that the Government really commits to improving the standards. It would do so much to rebuild community involvement across the country.
The next issue for the government is ramping up building affordable homes. If the figures are right we are now 0ver 180,000 homes short. I understand that the government wishes to prioritise home-ownership but they must accept that some people need an affordable home as the way to start building their lives. Landlords need to ensure they are meeting this demand aswell as other homes. If the government encouraged affordable homes again this could go along way to reducing the negative perceptions of some social housing as landlords built more.
There is so much to do to tackle Britain’s Housing crisis that this Paper must be published as a call for action to listen to and empower residents once more – and to start to build the number of affordable homes we need.