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Agenda item

Social Housing (Regulation) Bill Preparedness'

(Report of the Portfolio Holder for Homelessness Prevention and Social Housing)


The Chair welcomed the Portfolio Holder for Homelessness Prevention and Social Housing, Councillor A Farrell, the Assistant Director, Neighbourhoods, Tina Mustafa, the Head of Housing Management and Neighbourhood Resilience, Lee Birch and Mr Mick Warner (Consultant) for this item.


The Portfolio Holder reported that the Neighbourhoods team had undertaken, with the support of the Consultant, a self-assessment of the Council’s preparedness for the Social Housing (Regulation) Bill, which would be explained further in this item.


The Assistant Director, Neighbourhoods reported that the Bill represented a fundamental shift in the way Council housing was regulated and managed and was expected to lead to a much more proactive inspection regime.  The team had started preparations for this over the last year.


The Consultant explained the review undertaken and the more proactive approach from the regulator which was expected.


It was reported that the exact approach the regulator would take and how the ratings / judgements would be applied by the regulator was unclear as yet, however for the self-assessment, four possible ratings were considered, the top two where compliant and the bottom two, where non-compliant. 


In terms of the current assessment undertaken, this was undertaken against four Consumer standards:

·         Homes Standard

·         Tenancy Standard

·         Neighbourhood and community Standard; and

·         Tenant Involvement and Empowerment Standard


The assessment identified that for the first 3 standards above the Council met the expected compliance ratings, and it was only in the Tenant Involvement and Empowerment Standard that the expected rating was not achieved, however, it was noted that there was no evidence that the serious detriment threshold had been breached.


The Committee was invited to provide feedback on the Improvement Plan.


The Committee sought and received clarifications in the following areas:

1.    In terms of the methodology used in the self-assessment, which councillors had been engaged and how had involved tenants been engaged in the review.  Whilst there had been dialogue with the Homelessness Prevention and Social Housing Sub-Committee, in terms of the self-assessment it was Cabinet members who were engaged, as well as members of the Tenants Consultative Group and those on the active database.  It was further reported that the self-assessment was an initial process and that there would be a full exercise concurrent to the legislative timetable on the Improvement Plan.  The initial work was undertaken to ensure that the organisation had a clear picture of the current position and to enable the submission of tenant satisfaction measures from April 2023.

2.    The nature of the self assessment undertaken where it was reported that the approach taken was a reasonable approach which would be expected to be consistent with how the regulator could approach such assessments in future.

3.    The nature of the sanctions which could be applied for non-compliance, where it was reported that the precise sanctions were not yet known, however, it was expected that the regulator would look to work with any provider to return to compliance, and that there would also be some reputational risk for any provider if there was non-compliance, and the potential for possible Government intervention.  There was also an expectation from the Housing Ombudsman and the regulator that the Council would have a performance improvement plan in place and the requisite governance in place to deliver it.

4.    The work to recognise the diversity of our tenants and it was reported that there was a piece of work required for the Council to understand our tenant base and our demographic so that services could be tailored appropriately and so that there could be improved engagement.

5.    The Committee noted that there was significant information in the Action Plan, and that detailed scrutiny was required.  It was reported that the activity described in the improvement plan would go to the heart of many council services and needed to be delivered well.

6.    The expected cost implications of delivering the improvement plan, noting that the main area appeared to be on tenant engagement.  It was reported that there were policy changes over the next two years costing around £100,000 which reflected the costs of delivery around this piece of work, but this figure did not include any repairs / estates improvement work which would become clearer over time.


Councillor M Cook left the meeting at 7.31pm.


7.    This self-assessment exercise which had been undertaken by the Council through independent feedback against a set of standards was welcomed by the Committee.

8.    The choices which the Council could face with any budget limitations in the HRA business plan which it was reported would be starting a consultation process shortly.


It was agreed that this item would remain on the Committee’s work plan for consideration at the February 2023 meeting.


The Committee thanked the Portfolio Holder, Officers, and the Consultant for their report and attendance.  The Officers and Consultant then left the meeting.

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