This Month In Social Housing: February 2023

Is it February already? Where does the time go eh? It only seems five minutes ago that we were all sat comatose on the sofa following Christmas dinner but you know what they say; ‘time flies when you’re having fun’. Whilst we certainly do enjoy compiling our This Month in Social Housing round-up of sector-specific news for you to devour (just like you did those pigs in blankets on 25 December), we can’t say that it’s been a barrel of laughs for those who are the subject of some of our most notable news stories for February. Read on to find out how and why…

Report Calls for data-sharing to Speed Up Decarbonisation of the Property Industry

A report from property firm Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) and the British Property Federation (BPF) has found that 90 per cent of senior leaders believe that current government policy will deliver a net zero property sector by 2050. The research, which surveyed senior leaders at 45 organisations, also found that that access to data, particularly energy consumption data, represents a ‘major challenge’, with property owners and occupiers describing it as it one of the top three challenges to achieving decarbonisation targets by 2050 as defined by Whitehall.

Housing Ombudsman to Undertake Over 10,000 Investigations in 2023/24

The UK Housing Ombudsman has said that it is gearing up to tackle over 10,000 investigations in 2023-24, following a seismic increase’ in severe maladministration findings issued since 2021-22. According to its 2023-24 business plan, the regulator estimates that number of investigations it carries out will increase four-fold, a prediction resulting from an ‘unprecedented ‘ surge in complaints in 2021-22 driven by media coverage of issues such as damp and mould and the coroner’s report into the death of Awaab Ishak.

New Housing Minister Appointed

Rachel Maclean has been appointed housing minister following Lucy Frazer MP moving on to the role of culture secretary after just four months in the job. Ms Maclean is the sixth MP to hold the position in the past 12 months and the 15th since 2010, the rapid turnover of incumbents attributed, in part, to the UK installing two new prime ministers since summer 2022. Labour shadow levelling up secretary, Lisa Nandy MP, said that the high turnover ”would be funny if it wasn’t so serious” whilst Polly Neate, chief executive of housing charity Shelter, commented that the constant changing of junior housing ministers is concerning as “housing should be the top priority for this government”.

RSH: Damp and Mould to be ‘Key Focus’ in Consumer Regulations

The Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) in England has said that damp and mould will be front and centre within its new regulatory regime. According to recently published initial findings of its evidence request from social housing providers, as much as 6.2% of the four million plus social housing properties operated by large social landlords are affected by damp and mould. RSH says that it will introduce more active consumer regulation of social housing from April 2024, adding: “The quality of homes – including damp and mould – and repairs services will be a key focus and the evidence we have received will help inform our work.”

Back To School for 25,000 Social Housing Managers

Mandatory qualifications are to be introduced for social housing managers across the sector in England, according to an amendment made to the Social Housing (Regulation) Bill published just yesterday. Changes to the bill require managers to receive an ‘appropriate-level housing management qualification regulated by Ofqual equivalent to a Level 4 certificate or Level 5 diploma in housing, or a foundation degree from the CIH’. The requirements will be applicable to ‘senior housing executives and senior housing managers’, with which roles fit into those categories being defined by the IATE. It’s thought that jobs such as those of voids managers, asset managers, and neighbourhood housing managers will fit into the criteria and will be required to gain relevant qualifications in order to continue in their roles.

Another month bites the dust but what an eventful one it’s been. As March thunders into view we’re all off to get on with the important business of developing industry leading predictive analytics platforms for the social housing sector. Rest assured however that we’ll be back same time, same place next month to ease yet another short, snappy rundown of social housing news right up into your web browser. See ya then!

Dean Quinn
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