Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities
New standards to improve service for all social housing tenants
Social housing staff will be upskilled to deliver high quality and professional services for tenants in response to evidence heard at the Grenfell Inquiry.
Social housing tenants will receive a fairer and better service from their housing provider, under new plans unveiled by the Government recently (06 February 2024).
Through new standards set by Government, providers will need to arm their staff with the skills, experience and knowledge to deliver the excellent service that tenants want and deserve.
This comes after a recent survey of social housing residents showed that a quarter were not satisfied that their landlord listens to their views and acts upon them, while a third of the Severe Maladministration findings from the Ombudsman related to poor complaint handling from landlords.
Unacceptable behaviour will be rooted out as part of a cultural overhaul, with social landlords instructed to adopt strict code of conducts that set out how all staff should perform and act towards tenants.
Minister for Social Housing, Baroness Scott recently said:
Time and again we have seen tenants ignored, dismissed or not taken seriously. Our new competence and conduct standard sends a clear message to social landlords to treat tenants with the dignity and respect they deserve.
Our landmark Social Housing Act is introducing life-changing reforms – giving tenants a louder voice to challenge their landlord and this will allow us to go further, making sure staff are properly trained and qualified to deliver homes that are safe, warm and decent.
Evidence heard at the Grenfell Tower Inquiry exposed the concerning truth that residents did not always receive an acceptable service and were often treated with a lack of respect by members of staff.
Work to address these grievances is already underway as senior managers and executives will have their skills scrutinised closely under stricter measures and they must work towards required qualifications, with all existing staff enrolled within two years under proposed new timescales.
This could include a Chartered Institute of Housing Level 4 certificate, a Level 5 Housing Diploma or in some cases a foundation degree in housing studies.
Gavin Smart, CEO Chartered Institute of Housing recently said:
We welcome the government’s support for professionalism in the sector, with a focus on competency and conduct, including mandating qualifications for key senior roles. Qualifications are an effective way of ensuring professionals have the required knowledge and skills. But professionalism is more than a qualification; it’s about following a code of conduct and ethics, and displaying the right behaviours, attitudes, and empathy.
The Social Housing (Regulation) Act is now law, meaning the Regulator of Social Housing will have greater authority to undertake more vigorous inspections of providers, and those failing to comply could lose out on future funding under the Affordable Homes Programme.
As part of wider reforms in response to the tragic death of two-year-old Awaab Ishak, Awaab’s Law will set strict time limits for landlords and force them to quickly fix dangerous, including damp and mould, identified in people’s homes – with emergency hazards to be repaired within 24 hours.
But the Government recognises there is more to do to improve quality social housing. That is why the Social Housing Quality Resident Panel will be extended to April 2025, bringing together around 250 residents to represent tenants’ views on forthcoming reforms.
A new competence and conduct standard is the latest step in addressing systemic issues identified following the Grenfell Tower fire – not just the safety and quality of social housing but how tenants are treated by their landlords.
- The Competence and Conduct consultation will be open for eight weeks and further details on how to respond can be found in the consultation paper Competence and Conduct Standard for social housing: consultation - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- The Charter for Social Housing Residents White Paper made a commitment to consider the appropriate qualifications and standards for all social housing staff, including senior management.
- As part of Awaab’s Law, the Government has directed the Regulator on tenants’ right and complaints. This is expected to take effect from April 2024.
- The Government publishes monthly updates on work to improve the quality of social housing in England.
- Reports on the work of the Resident Panel so far can be found here Social Housing Quality Resident Panel: wave 2 reports - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) and further reports are expected to be published in the Spring.
- The Government’s ‘Make Things Right’ campaign – now in its fourth year – encourages social housing tenants to report issues and make complaints to their landlord. If tenants remain dissatisfied with the service their landlord is providing, then they can complain to the Housing Ombudsman.
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