Following the Grenfell Tower fire, Communities Secretary Sajid
Javid , speaking at the National Housing Federation (NHF)
Conference in Birmingham on 19 September, announced the
government's intention to bring forward a Housing Green Paper on
social housing in England - a wide ranging, top-to-bottom review of
the issues facing the sector, the Secretary of State promises it
will be the most substantial report of its kind for a
He promised that the Housing Green Paper "will kick off a
nationwide conversation on social housing"
Among the questions to be addressed in the Green Paper will
- What works and what doesn't work?
- What has gone right and what has gone wrong?
- Why things have gone wrong and - most importantly - how to fix
The Communities Secretary also promised that "the results will
help everyone involved in the whole world of social housing: local
and central government, housing associations, TMOs, and of course
the tenants themselves, to make this country's social housing
provision something the whole nation can be proud of." and that the
Green Paper will also:
- Look at the overall quality of social homes, many of which are
now beginning to show their age.
- Cover service management, the way social homes and their
tenants are taken care of.
- Look at the rights of tenants and show how their voices can be
better heard, and it will cover what can be done to ensure their
complaints are taken seriously and dealt with properly, and make
sure tenants have clear, timely avenues to seek redress when things
do go wrong.
The Green Paper will also look at wider issues of place,
community, and the local economy and issues such as:
- How can social landlords help to create places that people
really want to live in, places where roses can grow?
- What role can social housing policy play in building safe and
integrated communities, where people from different backgrounds get
along no matter what type of housing they live in?
- How do we maximise the benefits for social housing for the
local, regional and national economy as part of our Industrial
- What more can we do to help tackle homelessness?
- What support is needed for leaseholders who have a social
- What can be done to tackle illegal sub-letting, not just
chasing down offenders but dealing with the cause of the problem in
the first place?
He also said that, at the heart of it all, it will address how
government, local government, social housing providers and others
work together to get more of the right homes built in the right
There is no timetable for publication of the Green Paper, saying
it's not something the government are going to rush but that he
wanted to see it published as soon as possible.
Read Sajid Javid's full speech to the NHF
ARCH Chief Executive John Bibby comments:
The announcement of the Housing Green Paper is to be
welcomed but it will be interesting to see how this promised
"top-to-bottom review" sits with the government's, as yet
unimplemented, proposals in the Housing & Planning Act 2016 for
the introduction of fixed term tenancies, the High Value Asset
(HVA) Levy on the remaining stock retaining councils and the sale
of so called "higher value" council housing.
In announcing the Green Paper, the Secretary of State seemed
to suggest that a review of the Right to Buy (RTB) and the
extension of the RTB to housing associations would not be included
in this top-to-bottom review; saying that in his view the RTB is
a"great scheme"and government will be"making a decision on the way
forward just as soon as we possibly can" - presumably
this also means a decision on the introduction of the HVA
I believe there is a strong case for the government to
abandon the proposed HVA Levy or at least postpone a decision on
its introduction until after the Green Paper is published. Tenants
and councils I'm sure would feel that any decision that forces
councils to sell higher value council housing to fund the extension
of RTB to housing associations in advance of consideration of the
outcome of the Green Paper debate would devalue the debate and
undermine the Secretary of State's promise that the Green Paper
heralds "a fundamental rethink of social housing in this country"
and that social housing is about people's homes and, as he put it,
we're no longer "just talking about assets on (a) balance
sheet"? The Green Paper also promises to "look at the
rights of tenants" but that promise doesn't sit comfortably at this
stage with the proposal in the Housing & Planning Act for the
introduction of mandatory fixed term tenancies for council