New Social Housing White Paper Published Designed To Give Residents A Greater Voice

Tuesday 17th of November 2020

Tpas are delighted to see the release of the White Paper that aims to empower the tenant voice, reinforce the regulator's remit and strengthen consumer regulation.

Our Tpas national engagement standards placed culture at the very centre of getting engagement right and so it’s pleasing to see culture featuring so strongly in this new Charter. We’re looking forward to working with the housing sector and government to unlock the powers set out in the White Paper.


Download the Tpas Member Briefing on the White Paper


Full Tpas Statement to The Government's Social Housing White Paper

Since 2018 the whole housing sector has been waiting for the follow up to the green paper on the future of social housing. We've been waiting for the white paper, but we know that MHCLG haven't just been sat there doing nothing, and we've welcomed the work that’s already been underway in some areas. We've seen progress on safe and decent homes with the Homes Act and the complex work that's started on implementing the recommendations of the Hackett review through the Fire Safety Order and the Building and Fire Safety Bill . We've been impressed by the strategic new approach from the housing ombudsman service, and very much welcomed the more proactive stance and the early and effective joint working with the social housing regulator. And we've also seen the Social Housing Regulator itself use its existing powers more and more effectively to link its limited consumer regulation role with its wider role on governance and viability.

The publication today of the white paper though is crucial and we are keen now to move forward with momentum and pace.

As you would expect from Tpas we were especially keen to see what the white paper would say about empowering tenants and strengthening consumer regulation. We were delighted to see mention of a new empowerment programme for social housing residents which could, and should, have the ability to really ramp up accountability. We know that involved tenants are often also the driving force behind local charities and other civil society groups so this programme could have benefits wider than landlord accountability. We're excited to see more details of this.

 

We've been hoping for a muscular and proactive regulator and our view was that consumer regulation should stay with the Social Housing Regulator, to manage the important links between consumer regulation and governance.  So we're pleased to see the plans to reinforce the regulators remit and strengthen their capability on consumer regulation.   We heard tenants ask for this time and time again at the roadshows and it is important that this has been delivered. We will work positively with the regulator as they embrace their new responsibilities and continue their more joined-up relationships with the housing ombudsman and the new building safety regulator. Tpas believe that proactive and inspected consumer regulation is good for everyone in the sector: for tenants, for landlords, for contractors and for funders.

We also particularly welcome the emphasis on named individuals with responsibility to deliver for tenants and residents. We expect this to help bring greater clarity for tenants and residents to enable them and the regulator hold organisations to account. We understand that data is an important part of accountability and central to the success of any regulatory system so we recognise that there must be measurement linked to tenant satisfaction.

 

However simple comparable measurement is really hard to achieve in this complex area, and we'd be disappointed if we ended up with a meaningless KPI-chasing approach that distracted from instilling the culture and practises that are more important to tenants.

We share the disappointment and frustration though that the white paper isn't stronger on the importance of genuinely affordable social housing. Because we know that only significantly increasing this supply will help the large numbers of people in need of a safe and secure home in which to set down roots and live their lives as they wish to.

And finally, we all know that the green paper set out an ambition to tackle stigma about social housing tenants and to support professionalism in housing management. Our colleagues at the Chartered Institute of Housing have already started work on modernising professional standards in housing management, and we know they've also been working with the tenant-led See The Person campaign to tackle stigma within the housing profession. So it's great that this work will be able to feed into a national initiative. We believe that professionalism can be part of a long term cultural change. But it requires more than words. Leadership from within the housing sector and from the government will be critical. Our Tpas national engagement standards placed culture at the very centre of getting engagement right. We want to see this white paper drive forward that much-needed culture change at all levels.

We look forward to a future, thankfully now much closer, where tenants live in safe and decent homes; shape the services that are provided to them; and are clear where they go if things go wrong. 

 


Read the full Social Housing White Paper Here