The purpose and function of regulation is under close scrutiny following Grenfell and the recent ITV News repairs investigation in England. What can we learn about the implications for regulation from the conference? Jess McCabe reports
Why is regulation a big focus?
Well, regulation is always a big deal for social landlords – no organisation wants to be downgraded (or regraded as some like to put it). But post-Grenfell, changes to the English regulatory system are under way that will inevitable shape the landscape for years to come.
Did I dream it, or has the issue of regulation made the national news?
There have been a series of disastrous stories for the sector’s reputation involving really dire disrepair situations.
ITV News investigations revealed multiple questions about poor-standard social housing being lived in by tenants, as well as the Regulator of Social Housing’s (RSH) role in addressing these problems.
Housing association Clarion was recently cleared by the regulator after an investigation prompted by ITV’s coverage. But the RSH did not interview any of the tenants affected as part of its investigation, and the judgement seemed to raise even more questions about how the social housing sector is regulated.
What are the most significant changes coming?
The Social Housing White Paper, published at the end of last year, ushered consumer standards squarely back into the centre of regulation in England.
The regulator has a new director of consumer regulation, Kate Dodsworth, who will be speaking on the panel at ‘The road to consumer regulation – bringing tenants and residents with us’ masterclass and housing management session on 8 September at 11am. Also on the panel are Jenny Osbourne, chief executive of Tpas, and Fayann Simpson, a board member at L&Q (read our Q&A with her opposite), which was one of the social landlords featured in ITV’s exposés of bad housing conditions (see coverage above).
The ‘In conversation with the regulator’ keynote session at 3.30pm on 8 September is also a must-see. As well as Fiona MacGregor, chief executive of the RSH, there will be housing ombudsman Richard Blakeway and chief executives from the council and housing association side of the sector on the panel.
Also of interest will be the ‘Setting the standards for professionals across housing’ keynote session at 1pm on Thursday 9 September.
Key questions to ask in the sessions
How will regulatory changes affect my organisation and my job?
What does the future of consumer standards look like?
What does a good standard of social housing look like, and what role does the regulator have in ensuring it is met?