New rules form part of Bill to protect residents and raise standards in the sector

The Local Government Association (LGA) is calling on the Government to help shoulder the cost of implementing the new standards under the Social Housing (Regulation) Act.

Included in the Bill is the requirement that senior housing management staff must complete qualifications up to a certain level.

Research undertaken by the LGA has found the changes are likely to cost councils £17.9 million in the first two years and £3.7 million a year on an ongoing basis.

The LGA, which represents councils, says these additional costs need to be fully funded by government to prevent costs falling on over-stretched Housing Revenue Accounts (HRAs).

It is calling for the implementation to be properly managed, for the Government to work with the LGA and qualification bodies on a strategy and timetable, and for local areas to be able to make their own assessments of roles.

Along with costings, the LGA’s new research also found 66 per cent of senior housing managers at respondent councils were not yet sufficiently qualified to meet the new requirements, and 54 per cent of senior housing executives likewise require further qualifications.

Furthermore 62 per cent reported they would not feasibly be able to ensure total compliance with the required level of qualifications within a two-year period, given their current resources.

Cllr Linda Taylor, LGA housing spokesperson, said: “Councils are fully committed to improving the quality of social housing, supporting housing staff and ensuring they receive appropriate training and can gain qualifications to help them in their roles.

“With costs to councils likely to be almost £18 million just for the first two years, it is essential that these new requirements are fully funded.

“Councils’ Housing Revenue Accounts are already facing unsustainable financial pressures, and this would be an additional burden which risks impacting on councils’ ability to fulfil their roles effectively as housing authorities.

“In addition, as our research shows, councils need more time to plan and implement these new requirements that are being imposed on them. This is why it is vital government works with us, and that these changes are carefully and properly managed, while being mindful of the significant workforce challenges housing teams are facing right now including recruitment and retention concerns.”

The Act will also include a range of other measures, such as strengthening the role of the Regulator of Social Housing to increase the rights of tenants and enable tenants to better hold their landlord to account on consumer issues, as well as the Ombudsman in dealing with complaints.