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Housing secretary publishes paper to improve social housing

Words: Laura Edgar
Family home / iStock-613765260

James Brokenshire has published the government’s social housing green paper today (14 August), as the government looks to empower residents and tackle the stigma surrounding social housing.

The paper, which was expected to be published before Parliament broke up for the summer recess, aims to rebalance the relationship between tenants and landlords, and ensure that social housing can be both a “safety net and springboard into home ownership”.

It includes a proposal that could see tenants purchase 1 per cent of their property each year through the Shared Ownership scheme, as well as the dropping of the forced sale of council homes.

In September last year, then-communities secretary Sajid Javid said the government would bring forward a green-paper on social housing in England, and that it would be a “wide-ranging, top-to-bottom review” of the issues facing the social housing sector.

The government wants to start a national discussion on how to improve social housing, with the green paper setting out five core themes:

  • Tackling stigma and celebrating thriving communities.
  • Expanding supply and supporting home ownership.
  • Effective resolution of complaints.
  • Empowering residents and strengthening the regulator.
  • Ensuring that homes are safe and decent.

The government said its proposals would empower residents to hold their landlords to account, while also driving up standards so that social housing is well managed.

Housing secretary James Brokenshire said: “Providing high-quality and well-managed social housing is a core priority for this government.

“Our green paper offers a landmark opportunity for major reform to improve fairness, quality and safety for residents living in social housing across the country.

“Regardless of whether you own your home or rent, residents deserve security, dignity and the opportunities to build a better life.”

Proposals in the social housing green paper include:

  • New reforms to make it easier for tenants to progress into home ownership, such as allowing them to purchase as little as 1 per cent of their property each year through the government’s Shared Ownership programme.
  • Steps to speed up the complaints process, providing access to effective dispute resolution when something goes wrong, and giving tenants more support in accessing the redress options available to them.
  • Allowing councils to continue to have choice over their use of fixed-term tenancies, enabling them to offer residents greater security in their homes.

A consultation on the proposals will run until 6 November 2018. It can be found here on the UK Government website.

Alongside the green paper, Brokenshire also launched a consultation that considers how councils spend the money from Right to Buy sales. It sets out proposals to make it easier for councils to replace properties sold under Right to Buy, explained the government.

Reaction to the social housing green paper can be found here on The Planner.

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