To consider the attached report on the Social White Paper.
The Housing and Property Director presented a report on the actions which would need to be undertaken to meet the requirements of Social Housing White Paper or “The Charter for Social Housing Residents” which had been published by the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government on 17 November 2020.
The white paper set out wide ranging and compulsory changes to how social housing organisations operated and included themes from the green paper “”. This had been re-drafted and expanded into seven themes with specific policies, measures and an enhanced role for and .
The seven themes were;
The Housing and Property Director advised that the implications of the Social Housing white paper had set out new requirements for resident engagement and complaints. The changes were expected to deliver proactive oversight of consumer standards, which would provide the regulator with greater oversight of the performance of local authorities’ landlord function. There was also a greater emphasis on safety, resident voice, performance monitoring, home ownership with non-compliance and a new consumer standard resulting in unlimited fines, and reputational damage.
The timescales for implementation of the proposals in the Charter were not yet known, however driving up levels of satisfaction in the areas of Neighbourhoods and Communications would continue to be a key priority for the Council over the coming months and it had been proposed that a review be carried out against the paper and subsequent action be created.
The Committee asked the following questions;
· Was data available on the residents’ feedback? The Housing and Property Director advised a summary would be included in the minutes or sent to members directly.
· Would Officers agreed that the legislation could still differ somewhat compared to the white paper and therefore it would be wise to not concentrate too finally on the detail? The Housing and Property Director commented that the Council had two people who fed into the forums which included the Tenant and Leaseholder Federation Chairman, Mr W Marsh and the Head Asset and Facilities, Mr D Epton, so they felt well informed.
· Did officers respond to the green paper, and if so, did they feel that their comments had been addressed in the white paper? The Housing and Property Director advised that the Council had responded to the green paper and there had been no surprises.
· Could the data collected on landlords be used to rank them or highlight potential issues; and how did the Council measure the outcomes of complaints against landlords? The Housing and Property Director advised that the Council’s was proposing to compare their Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) with other similar sized organisations to ensure consistency. In regard to complaints, there was a Complaints Policy for tenants and the number of complaints upheld or dismissed was monitored. On a wider point, estate improvements were being carried out and the before and after satisfaction results were being monitored to determine the return on investments.
· Did the white paper cover Councils’ and Housing Associations’? Yes.
· Did the White Paper cover private landlords? No.
· Who was the regulator mention in the report and were self-referral realistic? The Housing and Property Director advised that regulator was called the Social Housing Regulator and a report would be brought forward to give the Committee a more detailed overview on this area. Regarding self-referral, she stated that organisations did self-refer, due to serious consequences if found not complying.
· Mr W Marsh advised that he sat on the Housing Ombudsman Residents Panel and both the Ombudsman and Regulator frequently attended their meetings. Regarding complaints, it was noted that the Ombudsman published details of the authorities that had not complied in addition to the fines imposed.
It was noted that the Regulator for social housing was an executive non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government.
· What would be the cost of implementation? The Housing and Property Director advised that although they were not aware of the costs at the moment, they would be able to surmise from the gap analysis and review work. It was noted that the costs would be assumed within the HRA budget.
1. That the Committee noted the summary of the Social Housing White Paper and the potential impact on EFDC going forward; and
2. That an update highlighting the findings of a gap analysis and required actions to meet the standards would be proved at the next meeting.