Government announces drive to improve service standards in social housing

The Government has announced a package of measures to ensure social housing residents are listened to and better protected in the future, with their new rights enshrined in law.

Among the measures announced by the Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing Eddie Hughes, are the following:

  • A review of staff training and qualifications to improve social housing services and ensure residents’ complaints are dealt with effectively;
  • Residents will be encouraged to come forward and have their say on the future of social housing; and
  • The Social Housing White Paper will make sure tenants are safe, listened to and live in good quality homes.

A new charter will make sure tenants know how to raise concerns when things go wrong and can be confident that their landlord will make things right. The Government says it will also be bringing forward legislation as soon as practicable to strengthen consumer regulation of the sector.

However, there was no mention made of additional resources being made available to make improvements to tenants’ homes, or to pay for a widespread drive to increase staff training. This might come later, but without it some tenant groups will be sceptical that the cultural changes can be delivered.

The Government hopes a review on qualifications and professional training will drive up standards by making sure social housing staff are better equipped to support tenants, deal effectively with complaints, and make sure homes are good quality.

A working group is being set up to lead on this and it will include representatives from the Chartered Institute for Housing, tenant engagement experts TPAS, as well as North Star Housing Group and Sanctuary Housing.

The Social Housing White Paper Professionalisation Review will explore the qualifications currently available for staff, with landlords, residents and trade bodies putting forward recommendations to the government. It will also consider if additional training is required to improve the service to residents.

Have your say

The Government is now urging social housing residents to come forward and have their say in the review and talk about their experience dealing with social housing staff. They can also suggest what changes they would like to see.

The Social Housing White Paper set out how the Government will ensure residents in social housing are safe, listened to, live in good quality homes, and have access to redress when things go wrong. This review is a crucial step in ensuring staff and trained to support residents and listen to their concerns.

The announcement comes after thousands of social housing residents told the Government (after the Grenfell tragedy) that they felt their landlords were failing to treat them with courtesy and respect.

It also follows the latest English Housing Survey report, which shows that more than 59 per cent of social housing residents who complained were not happy with the response to their complaint. At the same time the Housing Ombudsman has seen a 139 per cent increase in complaints in the past year.

 Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing Eddie Hughes MP said:

“Too many social housing residents have told me they feel like they are not listened to or treated with respect – raising complaints time and time again only for the problems not to be fixed.”

“This needs to stop. This review will drive up the standard of services received by residents, making sure their concerns are taken seriously and they have somewhere safe to live. The review is a key element of our Social Housing White Paper, which is bringing forward wide-ranging improvements for tenants.”

Chartered Institute for Housing CEO Gavin Smart said:

“As the professional body for housing, CIH is delighted to be involved with DLUHC’s Professionalisation Review. Home is the foundation on which we all build our lives, our experience during the Covid-19 pandemic has reinforced just how important home is.”

“We are pleased to have the opportunity to take part in the review to help make sure that housing professionals have the right tools to deliver good quality homes and services with people at the heart.”

Landlords, residents and other interested parties can contribute to the Social Housing White Paper Professionalisation Review by emailing: Professionalisation.Review(Replace this parenthesis with the @ sign)

By Patrick Mooney, Editor