Last week the government published its long-awaited social housing white paper.
Here are a few of my initial thoughts about it and a quick run-through of how I think it ties in neatly with our plans for the next three years.
Our new Strategic Plan, which has just been approved by our Board, will steer us through to 2023. It focuses on us being a great landlord, creating great places to live, and being a resilient business.
We’re already well underway with all three priorities, so it’s gratifying to see that the white paper’s tenant satisfaction measures align to our revised targets; prioritising safe homes, providing quality services, high customer satisfaction, and a strong tenant voice.
Back in September, for example, we recruited a customer voice manager. They are already working on our plans to genuinely put our residents’ views first and to encourage them, wherever possible, to have a place at the decision-making table.
The new Building Safety Regulator and the enhanced responsibilities of the Housing Ombudsman are welcome developments, of course, but we’ll also be held to account by our tenants – and that seems right to me.
I'd like to see more detail on the timeline for the white paper consultation, especially since parliamentary time does seem squeezed right now - for obvious reasons.
Also, I think that the promised ‘engagement with the sector’ is a fantastic opportunity for all registered housing providers to get together to find a cost effective way for us to share our data and improve transparency for our customers and stakeholders.
If I had to pick one thing that jumped out at me, it would be the word 'respect' - a topic that some of my colleagues might tire of me mentioning.
The paper’s aspiration to engage in ‘respectful and helpful engagement’ is a hope that goes beyond timely repairs, the way we handle complaints, and all the other very valid metrics.
How we approach each customer or situation is not just about measurement. The respect that we show our customers may be impossible to quantify, but it's at the heart of our purpose and the reason that we come to work.
The government’s promises to customers
To be safe in your home. We will work with landlords to ensure every home is safe and secure.
To know how your landlord is performing, including on repairs, complaints and safety, and how it spends its money, so you can hold it to account
To have your complaints dealt with promptly and fairly, with access to a strong Ombudsman who will give you swift and fair redress when needed.
Respect and standards
To be treated with respect, backed by a strong consumer regulator and improved consumer standards for tenants.
To have your voice heard by your landlord, for example through regular meetings, scrutiny panels or being on its Board. The government will provide help, if you need or want it, to make sure your landlord listens to you.
Places and services
To have a good quality home and neighbourhood to live in, with your landlord keeping your home in good repair.
Towards home ownership
To be supported to take your first step to home ownership, should your circumstances allow.
GOV.UK: Read the new social housing white paper (PDF)