NEW RESEARCH undertaken by the Local Government Association (LGA) reveals that councils in England could face an extra bill of £18 million to deal with new government housing standards.

Good quality social housing is essential for people and local councils will always put residents first, but they are calling on the UK Government to meet the additional costs for implementing these changes.

The UK Government is introducing new standards for the professionalisation of the housing sector under the Social Housing (Regulation) Act, which requires senior housing management staff to complete qualifications up to a certain level. The LGA’s research has found the changes are likely to cost councils £17.9 million in the first two years and following that, £3.7 million a year on an ongoing basis.

The LGA, which represents councils in England, 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, with council housing management teams already facing significant workforce pressures, and for the Government to work with the LGA and qualification bodies on a comprehensive strategy, delivered to a realistic timetable.

In addition, local areas must be able to make their own assessments of roles in scope based on their individual workforce profile.

The LGA’s new research has also found:

  • 66 per cent of senior housing managers at respondent councils were not yet sufficiently qualified to meet the new requirements.
  • 54 per cent of senior housing executives likewise require further qualifications.
  • 62 per cent reported they would not feasibly be able to ensure 100 per cent compliance with the required level of qualifications within a two-year period, given their current resources.
  • 80 per cent anticipated great or moderate disruptive impacts on their recruitment and retention of housing officers as a result of the new requirements, while 68 per cent anticipated a disruptive impact on their service provision.requirements.

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 with the Ombudsman in dealing with complaints.

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.”

* Read the report:  Professionalisation of the social housing sector here.

* Source: Local Government Association