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Social Housing Green Paper response

PlaceShaper members warmly welcome this important Green Paper. We have greatly valued the opportunity to discuss its contents with residents and representatives from MHCLG during the consultation period. We welcome the opportunity to remain involved as the Green Paper ideas are developed and will continue to involve our members and their residents in the dialogue to follow.

In addition to events with MHCLG, PlaceShapers has consulted with our members through three regional events and an online consultation. Members views are based on discussions they have held with staff and their Boards as well as discussions they have had with residents.

From the discussions we have had with our members and residents, we know we can make improvements in the way we deliver services and how we engage with residents to shape those services. The fundamental questions this Green Paper poses are ones we are already, constantly, asking ourselves: how do we improve the experience our residents have, so that their homes and communities are places they feel safe, secure and happy and the services they receive are of good quality? How can we be better at listening to residents and work to co-create future landlord services with them?  

We are proud of the homes and services we offer our residents. Many of our members are real anchor organisations in their communities and have innovative models of involving residents in how their work is delivered. But we know we can do more to create more equal relationship with our residents, to really listen to the problems and challenges they are facing to ensure we best placed to deliver high quality services now and in the future.  

The most important responsibility we have as landlords is to ensure the homes we build and manage are safe. We will continue to do everything we can to ensure our residents have high quality, safe homes and neighbourhoods and welcome and support the recommendations of the Hackitt Review, particularly around fire safety.

Many of our members have also heard from residents that our complaints processes could be improved. We should do more to co-design these processes with residents, focus on quality and speed of resolution and improve proactive simple communication with residents.

Beyond delivering these vital core services, we are driven by the positive impact we can have on our residents' lives. For PlaceShaper members, this is not only about building homes but reaches far beyond to the diverse range of services we provide within our communities.

As PlaceShapers, our members sign up to a set of principles. We put our residents and customers at the centre of what we do and ensure they have real influence on our organisations. We provide more than just landlord services because we care about the people and places where we work. We build homes that respond to local housing need. We recognise the importance of a local focus and work actively with our local authorities and other local partners and we believe in maintaining a strong, independent, diverse, values-driven housing association sector.

Central to these principles is our belief that we are at our best when we empower our tenants to be involved in shaping their services and neighbourhoods and our organisations. We recognise we need to improve our communications, listen better, improve our use of digital communications so we hear from a range of residents and work with them to better shape communities and services. But we also feel we have a fantastic platform to build from and a huge number of inspiring initiatives to learn from. Our members have significant expertise and good practice to offer, and we look forward to working with you to implement important changes as set out in the Green Paper.

Recommendations

We have responded to each of the five sections in the Green Paper, choosing the questions most relevant for PlaceShaper members. A summary of our key recommendations are:

  • We welcome the proposal for residents to have access to published building safety information such as a fire risk assessments, which we should publish in easy to read summaries.
  • All safety and decency measures should be tenure blind, including the Decent Homes Standard.
  • We support the democratic filter stage in complaints processes being removed and recommend the Housing Ombudsman is better resourced to review complaints swiftly.
  • We broadly support the core KPIs set out in the Green Paper but recommend residents are consulted on. All Housing Providers should report against these and additional KPIs, agreed with residents and their Board, which show how we deliver on our social purpose.
  • We recommend that these KPIs form an updated and annually published Sector Scorecard. All Housing Providers should use this Scorecard to provide a written report to their customers each year about their performance. Many of our members already do this.
  • We support ‘A Voice for Tenants’ and recommend it is resourced appropriately with strong governance arrangements and a clear scope and Terms of Reference.
  • We recommend that the Regulator is more proactive in consumer regulation and funded to ensure it can meet this remit.
  • We recommend the Regulator develops a stronger mechanism to assess consumer standards and specifically customer experience. The exact mechanism should be co-designed with residents and the sector.
  • We recommend the Government establishes a cross party commission, also including tenants and housing association representatives, to explore the main drivers of stigmatisation and make recommendations to Parliament and other sectors to stop it.
  • We recommend the Government convene a summit of senior journalists, editors, news producers and commissioners with social housing tenants and landlords to discuss how to reduce the stigma.
  • We recommend that Government recognises that given the extent of housing need housing association tenure must become a mainstream tenure of choice again, which will both reduce stigma and meet broader housing need. We recommend that government open a dialogue with the sector about how to achieve this goal.
  • To further increase the supply of social rented housing we recommend the Government takes action to make land available more cheaply and easily and makes an ambitious commitment in next year’s spending review for social housing funding over the next decade.

Read the full reponse to questions.

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