Select committee to hold inquiry into regulation of social housing in England

The Housing, Communities and Local Government (HCLG) Committee has launched an inquiry examining the quality and regulation of social housing in England.

The committee will examine concerns about the quality of social housing, with a focus on the ability of the Regulator of Social Housing and the Housing Ombudsman to identify and address problems.

The inquiry will also focus on the proposals in the Government’s social housing White Paper aimed at improving the regulatory regime.

In particular, the inquiry will seek answers to the following questions:

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  • How widespread and serious are the concerns about the quality of social housing?
  • What is the impact on social housing providers’ resources, and therefore their ability to maintain and improve their housing stock, of the need to remediate building safety risks and retrofit their homes to make them more energy efficient?
  • Is the current regime for regulating social housing fit for purpose?
  • How clearly defined are the roles of the Regulator of Social Housing and the Housing Ombudsman?
  • Does the current regime allow tenants to effectively resolve issues?
  • Do the regulator and ombudsman have sufficient powers to take action against providers?
  • Will the reforms proposed in the social housing White Paper improve the regime and what progress has been made on implementing those reforms?
  • What changes, if any, should the Government make to the Decent Homes Standard?
  • Should the Decent Homes Standard be amended to include energy efficiency and other means of mitigating climate change, and if so how?
  • Should all providers of social housing, not just councils, be required to register with the regulator?
  • What challenges does the diversification of social housing providers pose for the regulatory system?

Clive Betts MP, Chair of the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee, said: “Social housing plays a vital role in giving people a secure and affordable home, offering those in social housing protection from the rising costs and insecurity of private renting.

“Beyond the need for action to tackle the lack of social housing in England, questions also need to be asked about the quality of existing social housing and how the complaints of residents can be better handled and resolved.

“Stories of dilapidated social housing and tales of housing associations failing to respond to residents’ complaints call into question the effectiveness of the existing regulatory regime and how far the Government’s White Paper proposals go to help ensure tenants are treated properly and fairly. In our inquiry, we want to explore concerns around the quality of social housing and whether the current regime for the regulation of social housing is fit for purpose.”

The closing date for submissions to the committee’s call for evidence is 21 December 2021. A series of public evidence hearings are likely to begin in early 2022. More information can be found here.

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