I was interested to read my colleague, Tim Coolican’s ebriefing on the Regulator of Social Housing’s annual consumer review. At a time when there is so much to consider (such as the Building Safety Bill, the implementation of the Fire Safety Act 2021 and the proposals within the social housing white paper), the review provides some helpful guidance for registered providers as to the regulator’s likely approach moving forward. The key messages from the review can be distilled as follows:

  • It was quiet in the last year in terms of formal action by the regulator because the regulator was trying to be supportive, but providers should not assume this supportive approach will continue.
  • Providers need to start taking a more holistic view of safety, both to adapt to the Building Safety Bill but also to be ready for the proposed regulatory regime set out in the social housing white paper.
  • Providers must ensure and seek assurance that their systems, procedures and policies are being applied effectively and consistently. While having effective risk assessments and robust data management systems will assist, providers need to take a more proactive approach to compliance.
  • Complaints can form a really helpful part of that proactive approach and should be used as an early warning that things may be going wrong. Where a review of a complaint identifies that mistakes have been made, management should actively consider why it has taken a complaint to bring this to their attention and what additional measures, support and guidance are required to ensure that expected standards are being met.