Get ahead of the regulatory curve: Key insights from our latest Executive Insight sessions with the RSH

This month we were pleased to hold two virtual Executive Insight sessions with the Regulator of Social Housing (RSH), providing our members with an additional opportunity to hear directly from the regulator, hot-on-the-heels of their letter to large providers at the start of the month.

HouseMark’s Executive Insight sessions provide the opportunity to ask questions, share experiences, listen to peers and use this valuable insight to stay ahead and support decision-making. Both the RSH and the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) are conscious about the additional demands on registered providers, and the sessions focused in particular on how asset investment needs and the expected strengthening of consumer regulation are influencing strategic trade-off decisions and business plans.

Here we share the top four insights from these sessions and what providers can do now to get ahead of the regulatory curve:

Zero-carbon – the biggest challenge

Thirty-year plans now take us up to the UK target to be net zero by 2050, and this is the biggest challenge for all housing providers’ strategic planning decisions now.  The Government is likely to look to the sector first, to help develop, test and implement new solutions that could then become new standards and rolled out more widely (including to the private sector).

The challenges to reaching to net zero are happening alongside building safety reform (the draft Building Safety Bill was published last week week), new supply targets and stronger consumer regulation expected in the forthcoming Social Housing White Paper. We know that data and insight will play a key part in managing both the zero-carbon agenda and upcoming consumer regulation, and we’re already speaking with many of you about refreshing performance frameworks and reviewing key service areas.

The Social Housing White Paper

We thought that by this stage of the year, the much-anticipated Social Housing White Paper would be published. The RSH was able to share that it is likely that it will be published this year, potentially in the autumn. It is trailed to also include a Decent Homes Standard 2, which will include reference to zero-carbon requirements. The MHCLG is also reflecting on how the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement could influence the content. When it does arrive, the sector can still expect enhanced consumer regulation and redress, as well as the need to report on their performance in relation to the customer voice, customer experiences and satisfaction. The message remains clear - get ahead now and don’t wait for legislation. We shared more about what this could mean for your organisation in a recent article here.

Stock re-investment – data is key

The RSH wants to see evidence that boards understand their assets and liabilities and are planning for these in their 30-year plans. Providers need to be able to demonstrate this understanding and be able to articulate trade-off decisions about resource prioritisation. The majority of sector stock is coming up to 60-70 years old when investment in structure is more likely to be needed. Before COVID-19, understanding of stock condition and asset management was flagged by the RSH as one of the key risks in their Sector Risk Profile 2019

Can you evidence that you have robust stock condition data - including health and safety compliance requirements – and that this is influencing your investment decisions or is your planned maintenance programme budget line more of a balancing figure? We are working with an increasing number of providers through our consultancy solutions practice on data led and evidence-based asset management, as they seek to get ahead in these critical areas. 

Regulation

The RSH wrote to all large providers at the start of July to confirm that they have decided that it is now appropriate gradually to scale up their regulatory activity as the pandemic situation eases.

Business plans and FFRs will need to include the anticipated impact of the pandemic. HouseMark members participating in our monthly COVID-19 Impact Monitoring are receiving detailed analysis of how the sector is being affected, and we have also been undertaking bespoke analysis for some landlords. To find out more about these solutions and how this analysis could help you meet your regulatory requirements for 2020/21, please contact jonathan.cox@housemark.co.uk

To find out more, about the work HouseMark is doing in the policy and regulation space, share any comments and thoughts, to secure your place for the RSH sessions taking place in September, contact elaine.middeton@housemark.co.uk.

By Emily Dixon

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