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Javid announces social housing green paper

Words: Laura Edgar
Sajid Javid / Number 10

Communities secretary Sajid Javid has given notification that the government will bring forward a green paper on social housing in England.

Speaking at the National Housing Federation’s conference in Birmingham earlier today (19 September), Javid said it would be a “wide-ranging, top-to-bottom review” of the issues facing the social housing sector.

The green paper would be the “most substantial report of its kind for a generation”, he said.

Javid explained it would consider what things have gone wrong, and why, and “most importantly – how to fix them”.

Following the fire at Grenfell Tower in London, it will consider safety issues, as well as the overall quality of social homes, service management and tenants’ rights.

“It will cover what can be done to ensure their complaints are taken seriously and dealt with properly, and make sure tenants have clear, timely avenues to seek redress when things do go wrong.”

The communities secretary insisted “problems shouldn’t just be fixed, they should be learned from”.

The green paper is set to look at wider issues of place, community and the local economy, questioning how social landlords can help to create places that people really want to live in and what role social housing policy can play in building safe and integrated communities.

Javid said the green paper would also look at:

  • What more can be done to help tackle homelessness;
  • What support is needed for leaseholders who have a social landlord; and
  • Tackling illegal sub-letting.

“At the heart of it all, how can you, me, local government and others work together to get more of the right homes built in the right places?” Javid asked. “It’s a green paper that will inform both government policy and the wider debate for many years to come.”

He added that the green paper would not be rushed, but he does want it published as soon as possible. “What matters most is getting it right.”

Terrie Alafat CBE, chief executive at the Chartered Institute of Housing, said: “The time is right for a fundamental review of social housing, so it’s encouraging to hear Sajid Javid’s commitment today.”

“With tenants at the heart, the review must address the crucial issue of government funding for genuinely affordable housing.”

She referred to recent Chartered Institute for Housing analysis, reported on by The Planner, which suggests that financial support for affordable housing and social rent is far less than that for the private market.

“Ministers need to take an urgent look at rebalancing the housing budget and investing more in genuinely affordable homes for rent.”

Alafat added that the green paper should consider the welfare reforms that have been introduced since 2012 and measures set to be rolled out over the next few years.

Image credit | Number 10