Worth the wait?

So, it was a long time coming but was it worth the wait? I am, of course, referring to the Social Housing Green Paper which was heralded as ‘the most substantial report of its kind for a generation’.

Housing green paper

 

Unfortunately, with such exaggerated hyperbole as that, it was always going to be difficult to live up to the hype and like many, it has left me feeling a little underwhelmed.

But first, let’s start with the positives.

Without doubt, ensuring resident safety, reviewing the Decent Homes Standard, empowering residents and strengthening the regulator are all things we can completely get behind.

The health and safety of our residents should be a given, but there may be a minority of providers failing in their duty of care, so anything that can prevent another tragedy like the fire at Grenfell Tower from happening, has to be welcomed.

I remain less convinced about the proposed landlord league tables that would cover issues such as repairs, safety, complaint handling and resident engagement. It remains to be seen what impact these rankings will have on the sector, but unlike schools, for example, you won’t necessarily be able to choose your housing provider if for example, they don’t have homes in the area where you want to live. And, if you are in housing need, will you really care if the organisation providing a roof over your head is not in the top 100? Which is not to say that providers should not be accountable to their residents and provide excellent standards of service.

I am also sceptical about plans to encourage more home ownership by enabling residents to buy just 1% of their home. This seems an administrative nightmare waiting to happen and if your landlord owns the other 99% of the property will this really feel like you own your home?

By far the biggest disappointment in the green paper is the lack of any new funding for social housing. The National Housing Federation have stated that the renewed supply of social rented housing is the most pressing need facing the sector and whilst acknowledging we need more homes, the Government is failing us by not committing new money to enable us to do this.

We will have to wait and see if the Green Paper has any real impact but at the moment you can’t help feeling that after so much waiting and anticipation, another golden opportunity to solve the housing crisis has been missed.

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