CWAG News Update February 2022

CWAG News Update February 2022

This update includes the following: 

·         Building Safety Update
·         Social Housing Regulation Bill
·         Social Housing White Paper Professionalism Review
·         Next CWAG Meeting Details
·         Website Survey
·         Housing Ombudsman Spotlight Reports
·         New in the library
 

This update includes the following: 

·         Building Safety Update
·         Social Housing Regulation Bill
·         Social Housing White Paper Professionalism Review
·         Next CWAG Meeting Details
·         Website Survey
·         Housing Ombudsman Spotlight Reports
·         New in the library
 

Building Safety Update

 

Progress of the Building Safety Bill

The Building Safety Bill has completed the 3rd reading stage in the House of Commons and has now begun its passage through the House of Lords. The Bill is expected to become law before the end of this Parliamentary session.
Work on the associated secondary legislation is already advanced but there will still need to be a series of public consultations around implementation issues once the Bill becomes law. Full implementation is likely to follow on within a year to 18 months.
 
Government plans to protect leaseholders and make developers pay for the cladding crisis
On 10th January Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, announced significant changes to the Government’s approach to tackling the cladding crisis in high rise buildings. Key elements include:
  - New protections for leaseholders; including a commitment that they will not be billed for fixing unsafe cladding. 
  - An amendment to the Building Safety Bill will extend the legal right of leaseholders to seek compensation from developers for safety defects in buildings up to 30 years old.
  - An additional £27million fund will be made available to cover the installation of fire alarms in all high-risk buildings (not limited to buildings over 18m). This is intended to end the costly use of waking watch fire safety patrols, usually paid for by leaseholders.
  - Restoring a proportionate common-sense approach to building assessments through a government backed scheme to indemnify building assessors from being sued; and withdrawing the previous government advice that prompted so many buildings being declared as unsafe.
 
The principle underpinning these measures is that those responsible for the cladding problem should fund remediation. Developers and companies at fault will be held accountable and required to fix the buildings they built or face commercial consequences, including a government-imposed solution, if they refuse to comply. The industry has been given 2 months to agree a plan of action to fund remediation costs, currently estimated at £4 billion.
Success will depend on the responsiveness of the building industry and the credibility of the threatened sanctions if they fail to comply. Some commentators question whether the sum of £4 billion will be sufficient to address the scale of the problems which now extend well beyond the initial cladding scandal to other building components. Other measures to free up the housing market depend on the responsiveness of lenders and other professionals to the Government’s attempts to promote a more proportionate approach to risk and building safety.
 

Social Housing Regulation Bill to be published in March

 
The 2021 Queen’s Speech did not include a Social Housing Bill resulting in uncertainty around the timetable for the implementation of pro-active consumer regulation.
However, the Government has now indicated its intention to publish the Social Housing Regulation Bill in March this year, signalling that the legislation required to effect key changes to the Regulator’s key objectives will be progressed more quickly than anticipated, highlighting the importance of work already under way within the sector to prepare for the new arrangements.
 

Social Housing White Paper Professionalism Review

 
The Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has announced a Professionalism Review which aims to drive up standards within the social housing sector. This was identified as a priority in the Social Housing White Paper and aims to ensure staff are ‘better equipped to support tenants, deal effectively with complaints and ensure homes are good quality’.
The review will consider issues around staff training and qualifications as well as evidence from social housing residents about their experience dealing with social housing staff.
For further information see the MLUHC press release
 

Next CWAG Meeting Details

 
The next CWAG meeting will consider the RSH Consultation on Tenant Satisfaction Measures (TSMs).
Kate Dodsworth Director of Consumer Regulation at RSH will introduce the session setting out the background and rationale underpinning the TSMs and how they fit within the wider proposed changes to regulation in the Social Housing White Paper.
This will be followed by a discussion around the consultation questions and in particular issues for councils with ALMOs, given that the data collection element may be undertaken by the ALMO but has implications for the council as landlord.
The meeting will be held over Teams on Thursday 17th February 2022 (timing 9.30a.m – 11a.m.)
Please contact the Policy Officer for further details and the meeting link. 
 

CWAG Website Survey

 
CWAG is planning to replace the group’s existing website over the next few months. As a starting point we are seeking feedback on how members use the current website and the features and functionality you would like to see in the new website. Please send feedback by 9th February 2022.We would also like to identify a ‘virtual steering group’ of CWAG members to comment on the plans as they develop. Please contact the Policy Officer if you would be interested in being part of this group.
 

Housing Ombudsman Spotlight Reports

 
The Housing Ombudsman’s Spotlight reports use insights from casework to share learning and drive improvements for the benefit of all residents. Recent reports have looked at damp and mould, cladding complaints and heating and hot water
 
In 2022 there will be two new reports:
The first of the reports will consider maladministration cases where a managing agent may have been involved in the response to the resident’s issues. In these circumstances the Ombudsman considers the landlord to be responsible for the relationship with the resident and therefore responsible for working with other parties to resolve issues.
The second report will focus on complaints about noise, often including anti-social behaviour, which are a large and growing element of the Ombudsman’s casework. The report, due to be published in the summer, will cover:
  • Noise caused by other residents
  • Noise from works, contractors or other external sources
  • Noise attributed to poor soundproofing or other building defects.
 

New in the Library

Presentation Slides from the Finance and Business Planning Meeting held on 25th January 2022