Are the government's social housing proposals really convincing enough?

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Jenny Kay
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This week, our Head of Housing, Jenny Kay, has been taking a look at the Social Housing White Paper and asking whether government’s new shared ownership proposals really are convincing enough?

No one can argue that residents living in affordable housing should receive a good customer service from their landlord. And so, it’s right that the paper starts with safety in the home following the tragic events at Grenfell three years ago. Equally, complaints should be dealt with swiftly and residents should be treated with respect – that should be a given. As someone who qualified many years ago as a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Housing, I welcome the push to look at the qualifications of housing staff as this does seem to have gone out of favour over recent years. The paper appears to see affordable housing providers as all things to all people; in addition to providing safe and affordable homes, they need to be knowledgeable about mental health issues, deal with anti-social behaviour and look at how crime can be reduced. There is only so much housing providers can do, and better multi-agency approaches with responsibility being taken by those legally responsible and best placed need to be built upon if the change the government wants to deliver is to come to fruition, and – most importantly – benefit residents in the long-term.

The review of the decent homes standards is again welcome, as time has moved on since it was originally introduced. This will present landlords with challenges though, as additional works along with retrofitting to meet the decarbonisation agenda (for which details are still waited for existing dwellings) may make some properties unviable and asset management strategies will have to be reviewed.

There are of course different views about the new shared ownership proposals; I’m not convinced that encouraging tenants to buy a 10% tranche in their property is necessarily a good thing, and it will be interesting to see how many take up the option. Equally, the requirement for landlords to be responsible for repairs and maintenance for 10 years will affect budgets and could ultimately mean that grant funded shared ownership homes aren’t developed in the same numbers that they have been previously.

The big positive that I take from this is that the provision of social rented homes ‘anywhere in England’ is encouraged. Whether built by housing associations or local authorities, there’s no doubting that we need more of them.

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Contacts
For more information please contact:

Jenny Kay
07568 609069
Contact Jenny Kay