Crackdown On Bad Landlords Promised In 'New Deal' For Social Housing Tenants

Shelter says post-Grenfell plan 'doesn’t commit a single extra penny' for new-builds while Labour branded it 'pitiful'.
Housing Secretary James Brokenshire has set out the government's green paper on social housing
Housing Secretary James Brokenshire has set out the government's green paper on social housing
PA Wire/PA Images

Tackling bad landlords and boosting shared ownership schemes are among the measures set out in the Government’s new social housing plan.

Housing secretary James Brokenshire said landlord league tables and plans to empower residents amount to “major reform” of the sector as the minister set out the social housing green paper on Tuesday.

But his offer was savaged by opponents and the housing charity Shelter, who said it fails to outline “a single extra penny” to build more council-run homes, with ministers simply agreeing to a consultation on how cash from the the Right to Buy policy could be spent.

Former housing secretary Sajid Javid had promised “a wide-ranging, top-to-bottom review of the issues facing the sector” and “the most substantial report of its kind for a generation” in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster.

Key proposals in the green paper now include:

  • Giving the social housing regulator “sharper teeth” to intervene when needed and ensure social homes are well managed and of decent quality.

  • Speeding up the complaints process and dispute resolution to give tenants support when something goes wrong

  • Making it easier to progress into home ownership through shared ownership schemes by allowing tenants to purchase as little as 1% of their property each year

  • The introduction of landlord league tables

  • A consultation on how councils can spend cash from stock sold under the Right To Buy policy

Brokenshire said: “Providing high quality and well managed social housing is a core priority for this Government.

“Our green paper offers a landmark opportunity for major reform to improve fairness, quality and safety for residents living in social housing across the country.

“Regardless of whether you own your home or rent, residents deserve security, dignity and the opportunities to build a better life.”

PA Wire/PA Images

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, hit out at the proposals, saying: “The terrible Grenfell tragedy has shone a light on social housing and forced the country to think about the choices we face.

“Today’s Green Paper is full of warm words, but doesn’t commit a single extra penny towards building the social homes needed by the 1.2m people on the waiting list.”

Judith Blake, the Local Government Association’s housing spokesperson, meanwhile, described the green paper as “only a small step” towards delivering more social homes.

“There is a desperate need to reverse the decline in council housing over the past few decades,” she said, adding: “The Government must go beyond the limited measures announced so far, scrap the housing borrowing cap, and enable all councils, across the country, to borrow to build once more.

“This would trigger the renaissance in council house-building which will help people to access genuinely affordable housing.”

Shadow housing secretary John Healey said the green paper was “pitiful”, with nothing that “measures up to the scale of the housing crisis”.

He said: “The number of new social rented homes is at a record low but there is no new money to increase supply, and ministers are still preventing local authorities run by all parties from building the council homes their communities need.

“After eight years of failure on housing, ministers should back Labour’s long-term plan for a million new genuinely affordable homes over 10 years.”