Future for New Homes Ombudsman decided ‘in due course’

Commons question gets little out of MHCLG on a role championed by James Brokenshire at last year’s Tory conference.

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Nearly a year on from a cross-party recommendation, the government has got no further than “in due course” over the future for a New Homes Ombudsman.

In a written Commons questions, Labour’s Kate Green quizzed MHCLG on when it planned to publish the consultation on the role.

MHCLG minister Heather Wheeler said publication would come in “due course”, as it also sought views on whether a Code of Practice for developers should be underpinned in statute.

Housing Secretary James Brokenshire had announced a New Homes Ombudsman at last year’s Tory conference, saying there was “a need to address quality issues in new homes”.

As envisaged at the conference, the new watchdog would be unleashed to “ champion home buyers, protect their interests and hold developers to account.

In June last year, the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Excellence in the Built Environment called on the government to make it mandatory for all housebuilders to belong to an independent ombudsman scheme.

The relevant report recommended a new homes ombudsman be independent, free to consumers and provide a quick resolution to disputes.

That report was the result of an investigation into how an ombudsman scheme could operate and followed the group’s work over 2016.

The recommendations went to MHCLG to form part of its consultation on proposals for a single housing ombudsman to cover the housing sector.

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