This Month In Social Housing: May 2023

May, a month that seemingly comprised entirely of bank holidays, has drawn to a close and that can mean only one thing. Yes, it’s time for yet another of our quickfire monthly round-ups of some of the most pertinent happenings from the world of social housing. Get yourself a brew, ignore those emails for 10 minutes and bring yourself up to date with some of the stories you may have missed by reading This Month In Social Housing: May 2023…

South London ALMO Comes Top In Capital For TSM

Sutton Housing Partnership (SHP) has emerged as the top-performing provider in London based on tenant satisfaction, according to a review conducted by Housemark, SHP, which manages approximately 7,500 homes on behalf of Sutton Council, achieved an overall tenant satisfaction rating of 71% by the end of the 2022-23 period. The review was commissioned by the London Housing Directors’ Group in anticipation of the introduction of Tenant Satisfaction Measures (TSMs) this year. The Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) developed 22 TSMs to enhance consumer regulation, covering areas such as repairs, building safety, complaint-handling, tenant engagement, and neighbourhood management. Landlords are required to answer 10 TSMs, while tenants respond to the remaining 12 perception questions.

Homes England Urges HAs to Lead Regeneration

Homes England, the government agency responsible for housing, has unveiled its new five-year strategy, calling on the housing association sector to take a leading role in major regeneration projects.  Chief executive, Peter Denton, outlined the agency’s commitment to supporting housing associations in areas such as workspace, last mile logistics, and park development. The strategy, endorsed by housing secretary Michael Gove, aligns with the government’s agenda for leveling up, sustainability, quality, and affordable housing. Homes England, which will retain its current name but emphasise its role as the “housing and regeneration agency,” aims to support providers in engaging in ambitious placemaking initiatives and urban core regeneration. With £16 billion in capital spend to be used by March 2028and statutory powers, the agency is poised to drive transformative projects with the help of housing associations and private sector affordable providers.

Action Plan for Landlords to Deliver on Better Social Housing Review Published

The National Housing Federation (NHF) and the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) have released an action plan outlining how councils and housing associations will implement recommendations from the Better Social Housing Review. The review, conducted in December 2022 following a national disrepair scandal, proposed seven key changes to enhance the social housing sector in England. The action plan, titled Knowing our Homes, focuses on developing a shared approach to assess homes, linking data on home conditions to tenant demographics. The NHF and CIH will collaborate with the government and the Regulator of Social Housing to implement this program. Additional actions in the plan include supporting landlords in reviewing maintenance processes, promoting housing officer qualifications and training, establishing community hubs, and addressing structural inequalities impacting Black and Asian households. The plan aims to address disparities and improve the overall quality of social housing.

Landlords Prised by Ombudsman for Good Practice

The Housing Ombudsman has recognised the good practices of four landlords based on decisions made in April. Anchor, One Manchester, Guinness, and BPHA were commended by the watchdog for their handling of tenant issues. Anchor was praised for its proactive response to a pest infestation, including inspections, cleaning, and compensation. One Manchester apologised and rectified a mistake when a rent-arrears letter was sent by error., and Guinness responded promptly to a sink blockage, attempting repairs and considering rehousing options. BPHA on the other hand demonstrated effective communication and addressed concerns regarding a wood-burning stove installation. Richard Blakeway of the Housing Ombudsman, said: “Every month we share cases where we have found landlords responding well to complaints to provide learning across the sector. Often these cases demonstrate clear communication, effective records and swiftly putting things right where they have gone wrong. I encourage landlords to learn from these examples of good practice to help extend fairness across social housing.”

Damp and Mould Taskforce Set Up by 55% of Councils

According to a Freedom of Information request by Inside Housing sent to councils and ALMOs, more than half of England’s stock-owning local authorities have established damp and mould taskforces or teams, with a combined total of nearly £20 million set aside for their funding. Out of the 112 organisations that responded, 62 had formed teams to strategically address damp and mould issues. The majority of the taskforces were created following the outcome of the inquest into the death of Awaab Ishak, which highlighted the dangers of prolonged exposure to mould. The Regulator of Social Housing subsequently requested evidence from large social housing providers regarding their ability to handle damp and mould problems. The FOI request revealed that 28 landlords had allocated additional funding, ranging from £127,000 to over £5 million, for their taskforces. Some authorities have increased resources without establishing dedicated teams.

Phew. Another month done and dusted and quite an eventful one it was too (despite all the public holidays). Hopefully that little lot has brought you up to speed and you’re now fully armed with facts about the biggest happenings in the sector from this past 30 days. We’re all off to enjoy what’s left of the sun right now, but rest assured that we’ll be back at the end of June for another edition of This Month In Social Housing. Until then though, arrivederci!

Dean Quinn