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Social Housing Speed Read – social housing green paper brought forward

Sajid Javid MP has announced that the Government will bring forward a green paper on social housing in England and the Government has published a consultation on planning proposals to boost housing supply in England.

Announcement of the ‘wide ranging’ green paper

In his key note speech at the National Housing Federation (NHF) conference on 19 September 2017, Sajid Javid announced the objectives of the upcoming green paper.

Following the Grenfell Tower fire, many policies, procedures and regulations have been under scrutiny by the Government.

Sajid Javid stated that the social housing green paper will focus on the safety, quality and management of social housing, as well as tenants’ rights and complaints handling procedures in the wake of the tragedy.

In addition to its focus on the quality of social housing, the green paper is also expected to consider how social housing might boost the economy through contribution to the Government’s economy boosting strategies.

Mr Javid noted that, in the housing white paper published earlier this year, housing associations have a “vital role”, but the Government recognised that housing associations are “trying to make long-term investment decisions without knowing what [their] rental return is going to be after 2020”.

It may be some time before the green paper is released; Mr Javid has expressed how extensive the document will be and that he does not want it to be ‘rushed’.

However, Mr Javid noted that the green paper would be “the most substantial report of its kind for a generation” and should be published as soon as possible.

What should be done whilst we wait for the green paper?

David Orr, Chief Executive of the NHF, suggested funding for social housing should be provided by Government whilst we wait for the paper to be finalised in response to the announcement.

In particular, he suggests the Government use the £1.2bn of Government money which is set aside for starter homes to be used for social rented homes because that is a decision that ‘doesn’t need to wait for the outcome of a green paper’.

In response to the Communities Secretary’s speech, the Local Government Association (LGA) has published a statement noting that, whilst the LGA are “encouraged” that the Government is to bring forward the green paper, “a desperately-needed renaissance” is required in council housebuilding.

The LGA stated that the Government should give councils the ability to keep 100 per cent of housing stock sales, giving local authorities the “freedom to borrow to invest and to set rents”.

Open consultation on planning reform announced

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has also published a consultation on further measures set out in the housing white paper to boost housing supply in England.

The suggested measures in the consultation are stated to help ensure that local authorities plan for the right homes in the right places and to avoid them wasting time and money on complex, inconsistent and expensive processes and lengthy bureaucratic arguments.

The consultation measures include standardising the method used for calculations local authorities’ housing need and improving how local authorities work together to meet housing needs across boundaries.

The DCLG are inviting responses on the suggested measures by 11:45pm on 9 November 2017, please click here to access the consultation.

If you have any questions on the above and how it will affect social housing providers, or any other questions as a social housing provider, please do not hesitate to contact John Murray or a member of our expert Social Housing Team.

Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.

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