These changes will radically increase the transparency and accountability of public services, and restore political accountability for decisions which affect people’s lives and the way taxpayers’ money is spent.
Today’s move will put local people in real control of driving up the quality of social housing with their landlords, and keep regulation’s primary focus on ensuring that lenders have confidence to invest in social housing. It follows a wide-ranging review of the TSA commissioned by Mr Shapps in June – part of the Government’s wider agenda of reducing the number and cost of quangos, cutting unnecessary bureaucracy and getting better value for money for the taxpayer.
Under the plans, England’s eight million social housing tenants will receive strengthened powers to ensure that their landlords provide quality housing and are held to account when problems arise. Landlords will be expected to support tenant panels – or equivalent bodies – in order to give tenants the opportunity to scrutinise the services being offered and to be involved in resolving disputes.
In a new era of transparency landlords will need to agree with their tenants what information they need about performance so that tenants can effectively scrutinise performance. And there will be a new role for tenants’ representatives – local councillors, MPs and tenant panels – in standing up for the rights of tenants and driving up housing standards.
Full details of the review of social housing regulations will be published next week.
Grant Shapps said:
"The Tenant Services Authority was set up to oversee the financial viability of social housing and to protect tenants. The Coalition Government is deeply committed to both of these important roles. But in practice the TSA made little difference on the ground with far too many tenants still frustrated by their lack of real power to drive up standards.
"That’s why I’m putting tenants in the driving seat so they can scrutinise the services offered by their landlords and hold them to account. They will also be key in resolving disputes and local councillors, MPs or tenant panels will have a new role in standing up for tenants and driving up standards. It’s about encouraging local solutions to local problems.
"But with waiting lists at record levels and a record budget deficit to deal with we need better value for money in the sector so money goes further. The new streamlined regulatory system I am putting in place will focus on this vital objective. Through healthier balance sheets lenders have the confidence to invest in social housing."
Helen Williams from the National Housing Federation said:
‘The Federation has consistently argued for an independent regulatory function to support the sector in delivering affordable housing and related services.
‘Our experience with the Housing Corporation shows that when regulation rests with an investment agency it can be unduly influenced by investment considerations and policy passporting. So, we will continue to press for arrangements within the HCA to ensure against this.
‘We are encouraged that the Government recognises the value of independent financial regulation and we are in continuing discussions with CLG about how this can be maintained under the new arrangements.’
Have your say on this story using the comment section below