The long-awaited Green Paper has been released. Following last year’s tragic Grenfell Tower fire it has been presented by the government as the “new vision for social housing” and “a fundamental shift in the state’s approach to social housing”. Find a short summary of the key proposals below.
The Green Paper is based on five core principles:
- Ensuring homes are safe and decent
- Effective resolution of complaints
- Empowerment of residents and strengthening the Regulator
- Tackling stigma and stereotypes and celebrating thriving communities
- Increasing the supply of social homes and supporting home ownership
Commitment to safe and decent homes
The Decent Homes Standard which was last reviewed in 2006 will be revisited. The proposals also include changes to the arrangements for effective housing maintenance provision and explore new models for the delivery of homes within the community, including a potential new stock transfer programme to promote the transfer of local authority housing to housing associations.
Effective resolution of complaints and increased transparency
Changes to increase accessibility and methods of dealing with residents’ complaints, including looking at measures to support residents in raising concerns are detailed. A commitment has also been made to reduce the time taken for dealing with complaints by housing associations and the Housing Ombudsman. The proposals also commit to looking at ways of ensuring that tenant engagement and scrutiny is effective and suggests that stronger representation for residents at a national level should be explored.
Strengthening the Regulator’s powers
The proposals include considering the introduction of league tables for housing providers which are linked to KPI’s and possibly the availability of Affordable Homes Programme funding and the housing provider’s governance and viability rating. The Government also wants the regulatory regime to be more proactive with enforcement action no longer being dependent on the “serious detriment test”.
Home ownership options
Encouraging innovative schemes to develop new shared ownership products to enable residents of shared ownership properties to build equity in their homes through smaller incremental staircasing payments, as low as 1% at a price set out at the point of purchase.
Increased local authority borrowing powers
Local authorities are promised increased borrowing flexibility including the capability to use Right to Buy receipts in order to build new homes. In addition, the housing borrowing cap will be increased by a further £1bn in areas of high affordability pressure. In line with the Housing White Paper ‘Fixing our broken housing market’, the emphasis on the role of local housing companies, community led housing schemes and support for strategic partnerships with housing associations as models of housing delivery to improve housing supply. Local authorities will not be required to make payments in respect of their vacant higher value council homes.
Whilst some of the proposed changes are welcome, it is disappointing for the sector that the Green Paper does not go further by announcing additional funding, or by looking at ways to address the capacity and sustainability issues within the supply chain which continue to have a significant impact on social housing delivery.
The Consultation on ends on 6 November 2018. Responses can be submitted online: www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/A_new_deal_for_social_housing