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Localism will drive up standards in social housing

Tenants can now expect local solutions to local problems – they will be able to set up local panels and call on their councillors and MPs to hold landlords to account to help resolve disputes.

The report, which follows a wide-ranging review of the TSA commissioned by Mr Shapps in June, also sets out how a new independent committee within the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) will continue the economic regulation of social housing. The committee will make sure public spending on social housing is delivering value for money and lender confidence is maintained, ensuring that housing providers continue to secure significant private investment for affordable housing.

Mr Shapps said that following the abolition of the TSA, consumer protection and economic regulation of the sector would need different levels and styles of regulation, not a cumbersome bureaucratic approach directed from central Government.

Housing Minister Grant Shapps said:

"Social tenants know when things are going wrong with homes in their area. And when this happens, they want to be able to fix the problems quickly and easily, not sit around waiting for a remote inspection regime run from Whitehall.

"That’s why we’re changing how this is done. Consumer protection is going local – tenants will now be able to hold landlords to account with the help of their local representatives, and though panels that they set up and control themselves.

"At the same time the vital economic regulation of the sector as a whole will continue. The new regulator will be able to focus its energies on ensuring that taxpayers’ money spent on social housing goes further, and give lenders the confidence they need to invest funds in building more social homes."

In future locally elected representatives will have a much stronger role in regulation. Where tenants are unhappy with the way a complaint has been handled by their landlord, MPs, councillors and tenant panels will be able to scrutinise the performance of landlords, and help tenants secure better services.

Landlords will need to make a wide variety of information that tenants can use to assess their performance readily available. They will also be expected to work with tenants to set up systems, such as tenant panels, where their performance can be scrutinised and disputes resolved. If these local systems don’t resolve the issue there will be the option to refer the complaint to an ombudsman.

The current economic regulation of the sector will be transferred to the HCA, but to ensure there is sufficient separation between the regulation of social housing and investment decisions, an independent Regulation Committee will be set up within the HCA with its membership appointed by the Secretary of State.

The committee will have a greater focus on ensuring value for money and driving efficiency in the sector – vital activities in the current economic climate to squeeze as much value as possible out of every taxpayer’s pound. The role of the committee on consumer regulation will be limited to setting overarching standards of service for landlords and addressing serious failures where local measures have not a provided a solution.

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