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Government seeks stronger regulator to aid social housing overhaul

A new consultation aims to improve the safety and quality of social homes, while building on recommendations within the Hackitt review over how infringements are policed

The government has set out several key aims that it hopes will overhaul the quality of social housing in the UK. This will include the introduction of a stronger regulator and new standards on home quality that will determine factors such as energy efficient heating.

Secretary of state for communities, MP James Brokenshire, today unveiled the social housing green paper with the stated aim of rebalancing a relationship between tenants and landlords with a particular focus on safety and quality standards.

He said, “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.”

An estimated 8,000 residents shared their views and concerns on social housing – largely online. This feedback has helped shape the green paper’s proposals

A wider industry consultation will now run until November 6 with the aim of tackling a number of concerns that mirror recent recommendations from Dame Judith Hackitt’s Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, which was launched in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire.

These recommendations will include ensuring a more transparent and effective resolution oforresident complaints, forming a stronger regulator and introducing new standards for ensuring homes are safe and “decent”.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said that it was also committed to “bring forward legislation” in supporting an overhaul of fire safety in domestic properties. This would take on recommendations in the Hackitt report.

Respondents to the social housing green paper identified an “opaque, inaccurate and chaotic” complaints property for residents that offered little clarity on who was responsible for different components of a property and its systems.

The consultation process will now look at reforming the existing complaints procedures and give an residents an opportunity to challenge landlords about living standards.

A revised regulatory framework for social housing is also backed in the green paper. An additional call for evidence had therefore been launched by the government along with the green paper to ensure social homes are of a higher standard in terms of safety and performance.

The social housing paper will also consider how best to review the government’s ‘Decent Homes Standard’ in order to determine required levels of quality within a home for factors such efficient heating and insulation. The government last revised the standard in 2006.

The ministry said in a statement, “Progress has also been made on improving standards of decency.”

“The green paper will consider how the Decent Homes Standard should be reviewed to ensure it delivers the right standards for social housing residents and reflects the government’s current and forthcoming priorities.”

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