A Complex and Changing Sector
Social housing across the UK is complex with many different organisations responsible for policy, inspections, funding, governance, ownership, and management, and with different powers and responsibilities across the devolved governments of Wales and Scotland.
Housing policy is also changing. In England, Communities and Local Government published a Housing Strategy in November 2011 which sets out major changes, including:
- Giving communities new powers to deliver the development they want through Community Right to Build.
- Giving local authorities with retained housing stock direct financial and strategic responsibility for 1.7 million council homes.
- Introducing a radical programme of reform of social housing through the Localism Act 2011, changing the way in which people access social housing, the types of tenancies which are provided and the way that the homelessness duty is discharged.
- Tackling fraud and tenancy abuse.
- Reinvigorating the Right to Buy by raising the discounts to make it attractive to social tenants across England who aspire to own their own homes.
In Wales the Welsh Government has set out the Welsh Housing Quality Standard requiring all social landlords to improve their housing stock to an acceptable standard by 2012, with the latest findings in March 2012 showing a mixed picture of compliance across the sector. The Government's strategy, launched in April 2010, sets out the challenges in meeting Wales' housing requirements, the priorities and the actions that will be taken. Highlighting the Government's different priorities, a Measure passed in 2011, allows local authorities to suspend the Right to Buy. A Housing Bill is set out in the current five-year legislative programme, which will take action to:
- Address homelessness and empty dwellings.
- Improve standards and tenants' rights in the private rented sector.
In Scotland the Scottish Government have published their strategy and action plan for housing up to 2020. The Housing (Scotland) Act will safeguard social housing for future generations by reforming the Right to Buy and modernise social housing regulation. As part of this, a Housing Charter will be starting point for assessing a landlord's performance. The Scottish Government has just launched a public consultation setting out ten proposals for giving social landlords greater flexibility in the allocation and management of their housing stock.