The Government released its long awaited Green Paper yesterday entitled “A new deal for social housing.”
“Affordable housing plays an important role in delivering new housing supply.”
The main elements of the paper were as follows:
Ensuring homes are safe and decent
Effective resolution of complaints
Empowering residents and strengthening the Regulator
Tackling stigma an celebrating thriving communities
Expanding supply and supporting home ownership
The basis of a lot of the proposals in relation to safety a quality of homes stem from the Grenfell Tower tragedy which highlighted a number of failings with immediate measures being taken to make buildings safe. As well as being safe, all homes should be of a decent standard, progress has been made in this respect but the Government want to ensure that all homes are safe and decent. Part of this will be to review the Decent Homes Standard to ascertain whether it is demanding enough and delivers the right standards for social housing alongside other tenures.
Residents should have a stronger voice and be able to influence decisions and be able to challenge their Landlords. Residents are not like regular consumers can do not have the power to leave if they are not happy with the service they are receiving. The Government want to ensure that residents voices are heard and in doing so will strengthen the Regulator. Part of this will be looking at what can be done to improve the complaints process for social housing residents.
Residents have reported feeling like “second class citizens” and the “underclass.” The Government will tackle this prejudice and ensure that the positive contribution that social housing residents make to their communities, and society as a whole, is recognised.
The Government aims to provide 300,000 homes per year by the mid 2020’s, a central part of this goal will be social housing. The Government wish to continue to support people to become home owners but also acknowledge the need to replenish stock of subsidised housing for the foreseeable future. “The fundamental challenge is to reconcile our ambition to extend the opportunity of home ownership to as many social tenants as possible, with the responsibility to maintain and increase the stock of social housing for those who need it.”
Key to Housing Associations are the proposals by the Government to provide longer term certainty to help housing associations to build more and helping people living in affordable home ownership schemes to progress more easily to owning outright.
Right to Buy
A consultation paper is also being published containing proposals on how local authorities can use Right to Buy receipts to deliver new home. It is being considered that Local Authorities be allowed to keep the receipts for longer than the current three years so as the receipts can be used alongside the borrowing cap increase also announced.
Building on the 2016 Voluntary Right to Buy pilot, the Government are launching another pilot in the Midlands this summer, giving thousands of residents the opportunity to buy their home.
The Governments perceives that some shared owners struggle to buy more equity in their homes. One of the barriers is the 10% minimum staircasing share together with increasing values in property making shares more expensive year on year.
The Government are looking at ways in which providers can enable people to build up more equity in their homes. One suggestion is being able to staircase by 1% annually at a set value. This would break down the barriers above but could well be seen as an administrative burden on providers who would need to recalculate rents on each occasion and also prepare the necessary legal documentation.