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The government has today released its long awaited Social Housing White Paper that looks to reset the relationship between social landlords, residents and the social housing regulator. The changes highlighted in the paper are intended by government to make a measurable difference to the experiences of those living in England’s four million social homes in the years ahead.

We will be issuing a set of articles on the White Paper in the coming days – covering overviews and in depth insights from our experts on specific aspects of the paper including implications for different sections of the market.

In addition, we will be hosting a webinar to discuss the White Paper and its implications on Tuesday 8 December at which we are delighted to be joined by a panel including Fiona MacGregor, Chief Executive of the Regulator of Social Housing; Geeta Nanda, Chief Executive of Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing and Matthew Walker, Chief Executive of Leeds Federated Housing Association.

To download a copy of the notable themes and proposals outlined in the White Paper that our housing experts have drawn together, click here.

Tonia Secker, Partner and Head of Affordable Housing summarises the White Paper's key themes below.

"Safety"; "Accountability" and "Accommodation Quality" are the watch words of the White Paper and the changes proposed will impact directly on housing associations, for profit providers and council landlords alike.  They will also be of significant interest to investors looking to deploy funds into the sector – in terms of the regulatory environment.

Central to the above is the proposal for a strengthened Social Housing Regulator – empowered to act more proactively on consumer regulation matters, with a bigger tool kit (inspections, tenant satisfaction metrics and reporting, performance improvement plans) and the removal of previous limitations on its powers including the serious detriment test. These changes restore the balance between consumer regulation and economic regulation, plugging some of the previous gaps in the regulatory system that impeded its operations and will provide greater clarity.

In the light of the challenges for social housing highlighted by Grenfell and Covid-19, this Social Housing White Paper will be recognised by the market as necessary. The overall consensus is that residents need to be protected, heard and respected; social housing landlords need to be accountable – but they also need to be supported to do their job in challenging social and economic circumstances.  

This is a significant change in the approach to English social housing. Many of the proposals rely upon further legislation and consultation, so implementation will not be immediate.  Time and open engagement between landlords, residents and the regulator will be vital in creating a sustainable system which is fit for purpose and in which all stakeholders have confidence.

We will be producing more articles focussing on a variety of issues and topics brought about by the white paper, including; governance, accountability, the role of residents and landlords, engagement, complaints and more.