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The ARCH annual report for 2015-16 is now available to view.

 

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Housing Green Paper announced 28/09/2017 Labelled as Legislation, Tenants

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 generation.

 

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 be:

 

  • 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 them?

 

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 Strategy?

 

  • What more can we do to help tackle homelessness?

 

  • What support is needed for leaseholders who have a social landlord?

 

  • 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 places.

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 conference.

 

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 levy? 

 

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 tenants.

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