The Government on 17 November announced the long-awaited Social Housing White Paper entitled
"The Charter for Social Housing Residents."
It is now nearly 3 ½ years since the tragic fire at Grenfell
Tower and over 2 years since the Government published the Social
Housing Green Paper and it is vital that we have a strong
regulatory framework to ensure that such a tragedy and loss of life
never happens again and that residents feel safe in their
Councils have been providing housing to meet the needs of their
local communities for over 100 years and over that time have
provided millions of people with a home of their own in decent
affordable housing but as landlords councils must play their part
in ensuring that the horrific events of 14 June 2017 are never
We therefore welcome the expectations set out in the White
Paper. It is right that every resident of council housing should
have a good quality home and neighbourhood to live in and be safe
in their home. They should know how their landlord is performing
and have any complaints dealt with promptly & fairly, be
treated with respect and have their voice heard by their landlord;
and, if they want to and can afford it, to be supported to move
into home ownership.
We also welcome the introduction of stronger regulation to help
ensure tenants and residents receive the services they are entitled
to expect. Ultimately the ongoing Public Inquiry will determine the
causes of the Grenfell fire and where responsibility lies, but in
the meantime Council landlords have worked hard to learn the
lessons from Grenfell and to continue to improve their housing
services and we look forward to working with the Regulator of
Social Housing as it consults on the introduction of the measures
outlined in the White Paper.
ARCH also welcomes the proposal in the White Paper to deliver a
new "Empowerment Programme" for residents to help support them to
engage effectively with their landlord and alongside this would
like to see the Government invest in support to councils to develop
centres of excellence and facilitate the sharing of innovation,
best practice and learning.
Councils provide homes for some 1.6million households, but the
numbers of council housing has fallen dramatically from over
2.8million in 2001. We welcome the comment in the White Paper that
the Government want to see councils build more homes but we are
equally disappointed that in reality the White Paper contains no
new proposals to reverse the decline in council housing over the
last two decades. In particular, we are disappointed that the
Government have not yet introduced proposals for greater
flexibilities around how councils can use receipts from RTB sales
to help replace the homes sold on a real one for one basis.
Alongside this new charter for social housing residents, now is
the time to reverse the decline in council housing over the past
few decades, to invest in the housing stock and to build a new
generation of council housing that we can all be proud of.
As we have shown in the recent report "Building post-pandemic prosperity"
jointly commissioned by ARCH with the LGA and NFA, every penny
spent on building new social housing is an investment that has the
potential to bring significant economic, fiscal and social returns.
We have set out how handing councils the powers and resources to
build 100,000 social homes for rent each year would not only help
to reduce spiralling council housing waiting lists but would
deliver a £14.5 billion boost to the post-pandemic economy.
On a more general point we are disappointed that the Government
have not sought to continue the dialogue with the sector by
formally inviting responses to the Social Housing White Paper but
we look forward to working with the Regulator for Social Housing on
proposals to introduce new tenant satisfaction measures and new
improved consumer standards and related code of practice.
The ARCH Board and ARCH Tenant Group will continue to support
our member councils by promoting shared learning and engaging with
tenants and residents.