HouseMark's response to the Social Housing Green Paper

The Green Paper has finally arrived, and whilst it’s certainly got the sector talking, its contents haven’t come as a surprise. Post-Grenfell, proposals for more power to the Regulator and Ombudsman around consumer regulation were a natural next step. A re-balancing of the relationship has frequently been talked about and greater transparency and accountability from social housing landlords to their tenants on service quality and performance has been expected.

One of the key proposals in the Green Paper is that the Regulator should collect a new suite of performance measures and publish them in a league table – with an opportunity to discuss whether financial incentives (or penalties) are attached to performance.

Specifically, the paper refers to five key areas of performance:

Over 400 housing providers, representing over 75% of the total social housing stock nationally, currently use HouseMark’s data services to compare performance and cost data and use it to compare themselves to others to help drive improvements. Many landlords already present this data to tenants to help them understand relative performance and influence decision making.

As well, the Sector Scorecard is providing visibility of comparative social housing landlord performance, with a plan to publish this for the first time this year.

Many landlords use the STAR satisfaction survey as the tool to demonstrate how customers feel about their services. This is under review and will be improved for 2019. STAR includes customer engagement and provides a net promotor score (NPS). We will continue to lead the sector in this space.

Performance and cost data are important tools to enable tenants to compare their landlord’s performance with others. This is a good thing. However, these also need narrative, rationale and commentary to really understand what is driving them. In a similar way to the VFM metrics, the data that sits beneath the headline figures often tells a more complex story, with additional context supporting a more comprehensive analysis. This creates potential problems with a league table approach, especially if incentives and penalties are attached to rankings, as headline figures don’t always tell the full story.

We continue to work closely with both the Regulator of Social Housing and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and others to provide a platform for open, honest and two-way discussion and debate. I have personally reached out to both organisations to offer HouseMark’s support, expertise and experience to ensure we can shape an approach that works best for our members and their tenants.

I welcome the views of our members and would like to continue the conversation to ensure we continue to meet the needs of the sector in a changing political landscape. Please feel free to contact us at info@housemark.co.uk.

By Laurice Ponting

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