HCLG Committee launches inquiry into regulation of social housing in England
16 November 2021
The Housing, Communities and Local Government (HCLG) Committee launches an inquiry examining the quality and regulation of social housing in England.
Social housing is rented at below-market rates by housing associations, local authorities and other providers.
The HCLG 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. The full inquiry terms of reference are included further below.
Terms of reference
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The Committee welcomes evidence submissions on the terms of reference outlined below. The closing date for submissions is 21 December
The inquiry seeks evidence on the quality of social housing, the effectiveness of the regulatory regime and the proposals in the social housing White Paper. In particular, the inquiry seeks answers to the following questions:
- 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, 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 Committee’s inquiry will also explore the financial pressures on social housing providers, amid concerns from some that the costs of building-safety work and retrofitting properties to make them more energy efficient are affecting their ability to improve the quality of their social housing stock.
The inquiry will examine the role of the Regulator of Social Housing, which is responsible for the economic regulation of registered providers of social housing and for consumer standards, and that of the Housing Ombudsman, who handles complaints brought by tenants against individual providers.
The Committee’s call for evidence is issued ahead of a series of public evidence hearings which are likely to begin in early 2022.