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Government publishes draft clauses of Social Housing (Regulation) Bill

The government has published a number of draft clauses of the Social Housing (Regulation) Bill, which seeks to make good on the promises which the government made in The charter for social housing residents: social housing white paper, which was published in November 2020.  The government has not given a timetable for the introduction of the Social Housing (Regulation) Bill.

Key elements of the draft clauses are:

  • The removal of the “serious detriment” test which will facilitate the Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) taking a pro-active approach to regulating the Consumer Standards (as it does on the Economic Standards) rather than its current reactive approach
  • Enabling the RSH to publish codes of practice to amplify the Consumer Standards, as it has already done in relation to its Governance and Financial Viability Standard and its Value for Money Standard
  • Amendment of the RSH’s fundamental regulation objectives to include a requirement to ensure that RPs act in a transparent manner in relation to their social housing tenants and provide information in accordance with standards set by the RSH
  • Requirements for providers to publish information about the remuneration of both executives and the board, as well as management costs and other expenses
  • The RSH’s fundamental objectives in relation to the consumer standards will also be amended to include supporting the provision of social housing that is safe
  • Providers will be required to identify a “health and safety lead” responsible for ensuring compliance with their health and safety requirements
  • The establishment of an Advisory Panel, including tenants, providers and funders, to provide independent and unbiased advice to the RSH on discharging its functions and
  • Strengthening the relationship between the RSH and the Housing Ombudsman.

The government has said that under the new regulatory arrangements, it will publicly name landlords that do not meet the Consumer Standards, in a bid to drive up quality in the sector.

In addition, a residents panel will be established made up of roughly 250 tenants across England, who will scrutinise measures to strengthen the Decent Homes Standard, training and qualifications for staff and other planned reforms.