Response - Implementing social housing reform: directions to the Social Housing Regulator
By: Deborah Garvie Published: September 2011
The Government intends to direct the Social Housing Regulator to fundamentally change the way that social housing in England is regulated. It describes this as the ‘most radical shake up of social housing in 50 years’. Social housing provides a permanent home to some of the poorest, most socially excluded and vulnerable people in our society. It is vital that central and local government are accountable for ensuring the rights and well-being of social tenants are protected, and that tenants have adequate means of redress.
People place a high value on security of tenure, illustrated by the aspiration of many households to own their own home. The introduction of fixed-term tenancies in social housing could push more households into unsustainable home-ownership to obtain a permanent home. There are a number of financial and social costs associated with fixed-term tenancies. These are a high price to pay to increase the number of social housing re-lets and yet the impact assessment shows that there would be little impact on re-lets for at least ten years. We would like to see the retention of the existing direction on tenure: to offer the most secure form of tenure. While we welcome stronger tenant involvement in social housing, we are concerned that co-regulation, the introduction of an Ombudsman filter and the move to ‘backstop’, reactive consumer regulation, will make it more difficult for social tenants to enforce their rights to a secure, decent and well-managed home. We want local councils to have greater scope to make strategic decisions about social housing tenure and for tenants to have greater legal protection via a Statutory Code of Guidance.