Consumer standards – what next for the sector?

A Social Housing White Paper – we know it’s coming but when? And what will it contain? The Cabinet reshuffle last week provided some continuity with Robert Jenrick remaining as Secretary of State, as well as change with the appointment of Christopher Pincher as Housing Minster. Let's hope that the publication now moves ahead with pace. 

We all know expectations have shifted significantly post Grenfell and since the publication of the Green Paper in August 2018, so whenever it arrives, expect to see the government taking a much stronger line on consumer regulation.

Currently the Regulator for Social Housing (RSH) regulates the Economic standards and the Consumer standards. On the latter it has powers to react only to incidents of ‘serious detriment’. Most of the serious detriment cases relate to breaches of the Homes standard and poor data is often the root of the problem.

We also anticipate a significantly more proactive approach to consumer regulation linked to KPI performance, the identification of outliers and areas of focus for improvement. Proposals to reform the serious detriment test are also likely. A new independent consumer regulator and an inspection regime have not yet been ruled out.  

It looks like the government has complaints and complaints handling in their sights too, with the role of the Housing Ombudsman (HO) also likely to feature in the White Paper.

New powers for the HO could include:

So, whilst there is already a lot of activity across the sector what more should you be looking at to demonstrate transparency and accountability to customers and other stakeholders?

Good governance

Transparency and accountability

Listening to and working with customers

If you would like to talk about how any of these issues are impacting your organisation, please contact me at laurice.ponting@housemark.co.uk and I would be happy to discuss in more detail.

By Laurice Ponting

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