Tone of Social Housing White Paper ‘not helpful in some places’ | Housing Management Network news

Tone of Social Housing White Paper ‘not helpful in some places’

There are details missing in the White Paper and the “the tone is not helpful in some places”.

That is the view of some speakers at the HQN Housing Management Conference today.

That included Jenny Osbourne, Chief Executive at Tpas, who was speaking in a morning panel session.

While taking issue with the tone in parts of the Social Housing White Paper, Osbourne did mention that she was “pleased with the direction of travel”.

She added: “Co-regulation works very well in some places, but it allowed many in the sector to not do anything.

“I'm pleased to see consumer regulation on the same level as economic and governance standards.”

Osbourne also expressed her pleasure at the Regulator of Social Housing also getting the consumer regulation role, rather than a separate body, and praised the Housing Ombudsman for their proactive work on dealing with complaints.

Addressing some of the concerns, she said: “The big detail is the funding. How big is the department going to be? Where is the funding coming from (for new consumer regulation)?

“The detail is missing. The National Tenant Voice is missing, it is a massive gap. I think also something overtly about stigma is missing.”

There was also mass agreement at the conference that Chapter Seven, the chapter focusing on home ownership, should not be there.

Osbourne did give some advice to landlords, should they be wondering what to do next: “You have time to get on with this. A lot of this is quite simple: get your housing management right, get your tenant engagement right, get some meaningful mechanisms in place for tenants to engage.”

Rob Gershon, tenant and campaigner, was also speaking at the conference and spoke of his worry around getting “complacent” over delivery.

He said: “The White Paper represents some of the cultural changes that need to happen within landlords. My worry about the White Paper is that we pick up in the comfortable ways which we are used to.

“I also think we should expect that the White Paper will not do everything it was there to do in the first place.”

He added: “What should have been in the White Paper? 100,000 social rent homes a year. That is a minimum now. Some of the problems around poverty that have been exacerbated by Covid-19, would have been solved by social homes.”

Gershon also used his address to call the Chapter Seven of the White Paper “offensive”.

Stephen Burns, Exec Director of Care and Communities at Peabody, said his concerns over the White Paper were that it could “become a tick box exercise”.

He added that the White Paper feels like “we’ve been here before” and that regulations are only introduced when something goes wrong.

Paul Harris, Exec Director of Customer Experience at Curo Group, said there is “noting to fear” for most landlords and that he “would hope that most of the good landlords in the sector are already doing this stuff.”