The landmark Social Housing Act has received Royal Assent to become law, transforming the role of the Regulator of Social Housing in regulating consumer standards.
It is anticipated that many of the reforms introduced by the Act will take effect on 1 April 2024, when the new consumer standards are set in motion. In the interim, the Regulator has published a consultation on the draft Consumer Standards and Code of Practice, seeking input from the sector. Homes for Cathy has prepared a draft response to the consultation in collaboration with Crisis and is encouraging members to endorse the group’s proposals in their own submissions to the Regulator.
Definition of consumers to include prospective tenants
Importantly, Homes for Cathy’s proposed amendments to the Standards and Code expand the definition of ‘consumers’ to expressly include prospective tenants who may be in statutory or non-statutory temporary accommodation or rough sleeping, not only in the scope of the Allocations and Letting section but also in the Transparency Influence and Accountability Standard sections.
The proposed amendments also explicitly state the actions registered providers should take to implement the homelessness related provisions and require them to benchmark themselves on progress.
David Bogle, chair of Homes for Cathy, said:
“We welcome the provisions in the draft Standards and Code, including the retention of provisions in the Tenancy Standard which require housing associations to assist local authorities in their homelessness duties and to try to prevent evictions through tenancy sustainment support.
“However, our proposals take this a step further, citing how this can be achieved and indicating how RPs’ progress should be benchmarked. We hope that requiring providers to adopt the practices of the best will help to create a more level playing field for housing associations in tackling homelessness.
“We also want to ensure that people experiencing homelessness – in other words prospective tenants – are recognised as consumers. Ultimately, if we cannot provide effective services to the people that are most in housing need, what is our purpose?”
To read Homes for Cathy’s draft consultation response, click here. Homes for Cathy members are invited to contact Vicki McDonald at email@example.com with any comments by Monday 18 September. The Homes for Cathy Board will review any feedback and consider revisions to the draft before finalising a response. The final version will be shared with members by 12 October.