‘Critical tensions’ in Better Social Housing Review
1 January 2023
This article was first published on the Batchelor’s Solicitors website prior to its merger with Birketts.
The head of the Better Social Housing Review has warned housing associations that the much-awaited report will contain plenty of ‘critical’ recommendations but that none of them ‘will be a surprise’.
The Review, which is due to be published in December, was jointly set up by the National Housing Federation (NHF) and the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) to make recommendations to the Government, with the aim of improving the overall quality of social housing.
At the NHF’s National Housing Summit this month, Chair of the Review, Helen Baker, told delegates that the wide-ranging report will include recommendations on balancing the requirements of existing housing stock management with the need for new developments, along with the way tenant complaints are handled, saying that “none of these will be a surprise but all are critical tensions”.
She also warned that housing association leadership and the way data is currently recorded to measure the standard of housing stock, will also fall under the spotlight.
Outlining the four key strands of the review, Ms Baker said: “The first is the balance between housing management and new development, which everybody will be aware of and will be spending an enormous amount of energy on. But there is something about how actively organisations position themselves on that spectrum.
“Complaints, the handling and the number, is definitely a very fundamental area we’re looking at.
“The third spectrum I’d identify would be measuring data along the Decent Homes Standard [including] components like the doors or windows working.
“It goes from components, to thinking about data, which tells you about the wider experience of tenants living in a house. The fourth would be about leadership.”
Focussing on housing association leadership issues, Ms Baker said: “What seems to be really critical is about top-level leadership in boards, it’s about the line of sight from the board to tenant experience, the difference between being reassured and properly assured and I think that’s useful. There are definitely systematic patterns in the system.”
“I don’t think any of that’s surprising, but I think that’s an indication of some of the direction of travel, some of the framework we’re trying to shape our thinking within.”
Ms Baker said that she expects tenants to hold housing associations to account on these key issues as they present a “high-profile, serious public concern”, given the current cost-of-living crisis.
She added: “In this context, we’re definitely talking to government and will be referring to government responsibility to stresses in the system and the incredibly slow pace of getting legislation in place.”
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The content of this article is for general information only. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice. If you require any further information in relation to this article please contact the author in the first instance. Law covered as at January 2023.