TAROE Trust initial response to release of Social Housing White Paper
The Government has published its long-awaited Social Housing White Paper today. Entitled The Charter for Social Housing Residents, this is the policy document that effectively sets out proposals for future legislation and reform of the regulated housing sector, and can be accessed in full here.
Commenting on the release, Darren Hartley, Chief Executive of TAROE Trust has stated:
“We’ll need to digest the full details over the coming weeks and engage with Tenants directly to gauge opinion but based on an initial review of the headline points, it appears that there’s a lot for Tenants to welcome in the White Paper.”
Many of the things TAROE Trust called for in response to the Green Paper of 2018 appear to have been taken on board: improvements in safety and overall property standards; stronger and proactive consumer regulation, including for local authorities for the first time; the removal of the ‘serious detriment’ threshold; re-introduction of consumer related inspections; improved Tenants’ rights of access to information; Tenant access to funding to build skills and hold landlords to account; a review of the Decent Homes standard; improved complaints management systems; more joined up systems between the regulator and the Housing Ombudsman; and enhanced recognition and respect for the positive role Tenants can play in engagement.
These positive announcements are also in addition to the proposed abolition of the ‘democratic filter’ and the unnecessary hurdles Tenants must currently face when seeking redress, which is already included in the draft Building Safety Bill. TAROE Trust has long campaigned for its removal.
Unfortunately, it appears that calls for an independent national platform that gives a voice to Tenants in policy developments have not been taken on board, despite the resounding support for this from Tenants as part of the consultation exercises for the earlier Green Paper. This is a missed opportunity. However, we look forward to reviewing what commitments are included in the White Paper to strengthen the Tenant voice at a local, regional and national level and we will look to engage with Tenants to explore what role we can play to promote Tenants’ interests across the sector.
Finally, we need to move beyond the political fetish with home ownership and commit to a long-term supply of genuinely affordable housing for rent and reverse the net loss of rented properties through policies such as the Right to Buy if we are to ensure we have a sector of choice for those that want to rent and to avoid a recurrence of tragedies such as Grenfell.