A “tougher” regulator, performance league tables for landlords and new reforms to give social tenants a greater voice but also get them into homeownership are all part of the long-awaited green paper.
The UK government’s long-awaited Social Housing Green Paper has promised a “new deal” that rebalances the relationship between residents and social landlords and helps get people into homeownership.
Proposals will empower residents to hold their landlords to account and give them the support they need to seek redress when things go wrong, the government said today.
Months after deregulatory measures that loosened the housing regulator’s controls, the government is proposing a “tougher” Regulator of Social Housing that would focus more on consumers and to drive up standards in social housing, as reported by Social Housing earlier this year.
New reforms would also make it easier for tenants to progress into homeownership, such as allowing them to purchase as little as one per cent of their property each year “through the government’s shared ownership programme”.
In a separate move, the government is also launching a consultation into how councils spend the money from Right to Buy (RTB) sales. This sets out proposals aimed at making it easier for councils to replace properties sold under RTB and build the affordable homes.
Government said housing has been brought to the forefront following the tragedy at Grenfell Tower, and 8,000 residents from across the country have shared their views on social housing.
The green paper, announced through a statement this morning, will aim to start a national discussion to collect views on how to improve social housing, based around five core principles, including safety and increased delivery.
The discussion paper invites people to feed in views on proposals for the future of social housing and will run until 6 November 2018.
James Brokenshire, secretary of state for housing, said: “Providing high-quality and well-managed social housing is a core priority for this government.
“Our green paper offers a landmark opportunity for major reform to improve fairness, quality and safety for residents living in social housing across the country.
“Regardless of whether you own your home or rent, residents deserve security, dignity and the opportunities to build a better life.”
Plans for a Social Housing Green Paper were originally announced by former communities secretary Sajid Javid in September last year, promising a “fundamental rethink” of social housing.
Its publication follows the www.socialhousing.co.uk/home/home/hackitt-review-calls-for-new-regulatory-framework-for-tower-blocks-56348">Hackitt Review, which called for a number of changes in response to the Grenfell Tower tragedy.
In February 2017, the government’s Housing White Paper set out ideas to “fix the broken housing market”, and was followed by a new approach to demand focusing on local housing requirements, to understand which types of homes are needed in different places.
Key points set out today include:
Government ’core principles’ include:
Gavin Smart, deputy chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Housing, said the paper makes an important contribution to the debate but does not go far enough on investment.
He welcomed the consultation on the RTB, tenants’ stigma and the regulator.
“The green paper rightly recognises the importance of new supply but we are concerned that the plans for new affordable homes are not ambitious enough. Research shows we need a minimum of 78,000 of the most affordable homes each year. In 2017/18 just over 5,000 were delivered – and we estimate that between 2012 and 2020 we will have lost 230,000 of these homes in total.
“This is why we have called on government to rebalance the £53bn of funding for housing so that affordable housing gets a fairer share than the 21 per cent it has now. This is essential if we are to make sure that everyone has a decent, affordable place to call home.”
David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, said: “It is time the country had a proper conversation about the role and importance of social housing in ending the housing crisis.
“Without significant new investment in the building of more social housing, it is very hard to see how it can be a safety net and springboard for all the people who desperately need it. Our ambition for the green paper is that it sets a course for a future where everyone can access a quality home they can afford. To do that we need to build 90,000 new social rent homes every year.”
Government said £1.67bn of new funding was made available in June to build 23,000 new affordable homes and social homes.