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19/11/2020

White paper published to ensure safety for social housing residents

Words: Laura Edgar
Holding landlords to account / iStock-626187690

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick has published the long-awaited social housing white paper for England, which seeks to raise the standards of landlords and ensure every home is safe and secure.

The Charter for Social Housing Residents sets out reforms that intend to speed up the complaints procedure for residents by improving access to the Housing Ombudsman. It also aims to reduce decision times and ensure effective resolution.

The charter:

  1. To be safe in your home. We will work with industry and landlords to ensure every home is safe and secure.
  2. To know how your landlord is performing, including on repairs, complaints and safety, and how it spends its money, so you can hold it to account.
  3. To have your complaints dealt with promptly and fairly, with access to a strong Ombudsman who will give you swift and fair redress when needed.
  4. To be treated with respect, backed by a strong consumer regulator and improved consumer standards for tenants.
  5. To have your voice heard by your landlord, for example through regular meetings, scrutiny panels or being on its Board. The government will provide help, if you want it, to give you the tools to ensure your landlord listens.
  6. To have a good quality home and neighbourhood to live in, with your landlord keeping your home in good repair.
  7. To be supported to take your first step to ownership, so it is a ladder to other opportunities, should your circumstances allow.

The government wants to make landlords more accountable for the services they deliver. Proposals include tenants having access to a new information scheme of housing associations and reforming the role of the Regulator of Social Housing and Housing Ombudsman.

The white paper, which the government said has been shaped by social housing residents across England, including those from Grenfell Tower, also includes a charter that sets out what social housing residents should expect from their landlord (see box).

Jenrick said: “We are delivering on the commitment we made to the Grenfell community that never again would the voices of residents go unheard. This white paper will bring transformational change for social housing residents, giving them a much stronger voice and, in doing so, re-focusing the sector on its social mission.

“I want to see social housing tenants empowered by a regulatory regime and a culture of transparency, accountability, decency and service befitting of the best intentions and deep roots of social housing in this country.

“The new approach and regulatory changes we set out in this white paper will make a measurable difference to the lived experiences of those living in England’s four million social homes in the years ahead.”

The Charter for Social Housing Residents can be found on the UK Government website.
 

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