There were three points that jumped off the page to me when I read the draft legislation and guidance published today – they are not obvious but senior executives may want to mull over the impact these may have on them and the sector.
1. When is a residents’ panel Not a residents’ panel?
We have read that DLUHC has started inviting applications for residents to join the Social Housing Quality Resident Panel with the closing date on Friday 29 April. They are looking for 250 residents from across the country and I have been told there will be vetting of applicants so there will be proper representation of the widespread national tenants’ body and not just residents who are already involved.
However, the draft Bill only refers to the formation of an “advisory panel” that must (note this) include representatives from (1) registered providers, (2) secured creditors of RPs, (3) local housing authorities, (4) the HCA, (5) the GLA and (5) the Secretary of State – and then (6) residents. How many representatives of your funders can you see volunteering to be on this advisory panel? And this panel can advise the Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) on matters, whether or not they are asked by the RSH to do so. I am a bit mystified…
2. Consumer standards – performance monitoring, surveys and PIPs
Alongside the abolition of the “serious detriment” test, the RSH will have several wider regulatory powers in relation to the proposed monitoring of the consumer standards. These will include much more detailed performance monitoring of RPs’ operations and being able to set relevant Codes of Practice. The RSH will also have the power to authorise physical surveys of homes where they consider an RP is not maintaining conditions and appoint corporate (as opposed to individual) managers on behalf of failing RPs – these could become sanctioned takeovers.
And the RSH will be able to require RPs to prepare and implement performance improvement plans (PIP) – even when they are only at risk of breaching the consumer standards – and publish their PIPs to all their tenants to improve direct tenant accountability. Many of us know the RSH has been doing this informally for years through the use of improvement plans with non-compliant RPs looking to regain a compliant G2/V2 grading – but this could apply to all RPs in the future, whether or not they are compliant.
3. Information and transparency – the CEO’s salary?
And finally, hidden away at new sub-clause 194A(2)(c)(i) in the new information and transparency section is the power for the RSH to require RPs to publish to their tenants the remuneration of their executives who are both officers and employees and responsible for the RP’s management – in other words, CEO pay. Never let it be said that the Inside Housing CEOs salary survey wasn’t going to have an impact somewhere.
There’s lots more in the draft legislation (will you be the designated health and safety lead?), but this is plenty enough to remind me the devil is always in the detail – or the Parliamentary draughtsman if you want to be more accurate.