The Government has published its social housing green paper, ‘A new deal for social housing‘, aiming to ensure homes are safe and decent, complaints are resolved effectively, residents are empowered and the regulator strengthened, associated stigmas tackled, and supply expanded, while home ownership is supported.
Key proposals include:
- Allowing tenants to buy as little as 1% of their property each year
- Speeding up the tenants complaints process
- Introduction of performance indicators and new league tables
- Allowing councils to continue having a choice over their use of fixed term tenancies
- Giving the regulator ‘more teeth’ to make sure housing is of good quality
- Emphasising different delivery models, such as Community Land Trusts
The National Federation of Builders (NFB) welcomes the papers approach to solving existing social housing problems, but warns that proposed changes do not go far enough.
Proposed changes to the definition of social housing now include shared ownership and equity percentage arrangements. According to the NFB, this change may not actually deliver new homes because a limited number of local authorities will see their borrowing cap raised. The NFB says the Government needs to be bolder in giving councils the power to build their own homes.
Richard Beresford, chief executive of the NFB, said: “The social housing green paper proposes solutions to existing problems, but stops short of radical reform. Not lifting the local authority borrowing cap will undoubtedly be seen as a missed opportunity.
“The Government accepts that social tenants want to own their own home and therefore changes to right to buy and the definition of social housing are welcomed. However, previous commitments to replace council housing at a rate of ‘one for one’ are not referenced, therefore public housing stock may continue to be depleted at a rate faster than councils can afford to replenish it.”