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Regulator sets out risks social housing sector faces in 2021

The Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) has set out its view of the key risks and challenges currently facing social housing in 2021 and beyond.

The RSH said these were the risks it considers boards of registered providers need to manage in meeting the regulator’s standards.

Some areas of risk are also relevant to councillors governing local authority providers, it added.

The regulator noted that there are a range of competing pressures that providers’ boards face: “all providers will need to be clear about how they make the necessary strategic decisions and trade-offs to achieve their purpose and explain these clearly to stakeholders”.

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The Sector risk profile 2021 identifies risks across a range of themes:

  • Providers need to invest in existing stock to ensure the continued provision of good quality homes. "Boards must have robust data on stock quality ahead of changes to the Decent Homes Standard, and to support decarbonisation."
  • Tenant and building safety is a key, developing responsibility. "Boards will need to understand how legal requirements are changing and have assurance about health and safety so that tenants are safe in their homes."
  • Demands for transparency with tenants is increasing following the Social Housing White Paper, and boards should "take action now to ensure they provide good services and to strengthen their engagement with tenants".
  • The current macroeconomic climate is uncertain and boards will "need to manage their access to labour, skills, and materials – particularly as these affect services to tenants and new development".
  • Increased reliance on debt means boards need to be able to effectively monitor interest cover and gearing, manage downside risk and evaluate the financial products they choose.
  • Forecasts for development have returned to pre-pandemic levels and boards will need to manage the significant risks associated with the development and, where applicable, sale of new housing.

Fiona MacGregor, Chief Executive of RSH said: “Boards and councillors are the custodians of people’s homes and as society and the economy emerge from the pandemic the social housing sector faces continuing challenge and public scrutiny.

“Providers need to closely monitor the risks they face, including those we have identified in our Sector Risk Profile, and take strategic action to manage them so that they can provide safe and good quality homes and services now and in the future.”

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