The Green Paper – Reinventing Social Housing

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Providing high quality, fair and reliable social housing is a priority for UK government and a recent nationwide survey, based on the opinions of over 7000 tenants, aims to outline the steps needed to achieve these goals.

The sector anticipated Social Housing Green Paper was published 14th August 2018 which is the result of a nationwide consultation on the current state of the social housing sector and what its future may look like. The government have made a number of claims which, if delivered, could have a marked impact on the sector. These claims can be summarised in to five key themes:

  1. From Social Housing to Social Communities

The Green Paper aims to reinvent social housing and create communities of homes not just houses. Social housing will become a space where relationships are created within a community, through good design strategies and by encouraging events that promote inclusion and enjoyment.

  1. Social Housing Expansion

Not only are there plans to build over 300,000 new homes within the next 10 years but the importance of affordability is now being recognised, with investment in affordable home ownership schemes, allowing individuals to own equity in their homes.

  1. Complaint Resolution

Residents will be given a voice in decision making and complaint resolution will become more efficient so that they are able to improve their own living standards through action orientated solutions that tackle identified issues.

  1. Empowering Residents

The future of social housing will involve a reformed regulation process that will remain robust and up to date with all current tenant and landlords’ needs.

  1. Housing Safety

The government have set aside £400 million to make social housing safe for both tenants and landlords through fire safety reforms that reflect tenants’ needs and that are in line with new government priorities.

The paper also takes the opportunity to outline how the proposed reinvention of the governments approach to social housing may translate in to policy;

  • Introduction of new ‘league tables’ of housing providers based on key performance indicators, surrounding services such as repairs and neighbourhood management.
  • New home ownership options such as allowing tenants to buy as little as 1% of their property each year through shared ownership.
  • Scrapping plans to force social landlords to offer fixed term tenancies rather than lifetime tenancies in social housing
  • Scrapping plans to force councils to sell off their most valuable social housing when it becomes vacant
  • Potentially scrapping the current ‘serious detriment’ test, to allow tougher ‘Ofsted-style’ consumer regulation.
  • The return of guaranteed debt funding to assist the development of affordable homes, and longer term ‘strategic partnerships’ for developing housing associations

Yet, with Brexit looming and government resources seemingly already being stretched to near breaking point, the question remains as to whether this Green Paper really does mark the start of a “new deal” for social housing.

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