Specialised Supported Housing – an integral part of the future of health and social care – Part 3
In the third part of his 5 Part series of articles, Paul Russell, a Partner at Keebles, looks at the regulation of Specialised Supported Housing.
In the previous articles in this series I explained that Specialised Supported Housing is provided by organisations (registered providers, or ‘RPs’) which have to be registered. But with whom do they have to register and – once they are registered – how are they regulated?
When the Homes and Communities Agency changed its name in January of 2018, it split the regulation of social housing function from the main housing delivery and investment function. From January 2018 Homes England became the government’s investment arm with the aim of unlocking development land to promote community development and neighbourhood growth.
The regulation side of social housing was moved to the newly established Regulator of Social Housing (‘RSH’) and from October 2018 this became a stand-alone non-departmental public body.
Registering as an RP can be a reasonably in-depth process.
Organisations are charged a flat fee of £300 per annum (if the organisation has less than 1000 units, with one unit being defined as “social housing where the private registered provider is the owner”) or (currently) a fee of £4.72 per unit per annum if the organisation has more than 1000 units.
The role of the RSH is to promote a viable, efficient and well-governed social housing sector able to deliver homes that meet a range of needs. They are responsible for maintaining the register of social housing providers and for setting out the regulatory framework standards within which they must operate and follow.
RPs are tasked with complying with economic and consumer regulatory objectives and standards.
The economic regulation objectives are:
• to ensure that RPs are financially viable and properly managed
• to support the provision of social housing sufficient to meet reasonable demands (including by encouraging and promoting private investment in social housing)
• to ensure that value for money is obtained from public investment in social housing
• to ensure that an unreasonable burden is not imposed (directly or indirectly) on public funds
• to prevent the misuse of public funds.
and the economic standards are those of:
• Governance and Financial Viability
• Value for Money
The consumer regulation objectives are:
• to support the provision of social housing that is well-managed and of appropriate quality
• to ensure that actual or potential tenants of social housing have an appropriate degree of choice and protection
• to ensure that tenants of social housing have the opportunity to be involved in its management and to hold their landlords to account
• to encourage RPs to contribute to the environmental, social and economic well-being of the areas in which the housing is situated.
and the consumer standards are those of:
• Neighbourhood and Community
• Tenant Involvement and Empowerment
The RSH maintains a register where RPs are graded according to governance from G1 (best) to G4 (worst) and from financial viability from V1 (best) to V4 (worst). The register is on public display and is available for all local authorities to review and assess when looking at the decision on whether or not to commission a Specialised Supported Housing scheme in a particular local authority.
The RSH imposes strict accounting, reporting and legal and property specific compliance obligations on the RPs to give it as much information as possible to assess compliance with the standards.
In-depth assessments and inspections can take place and the RSH will also act on information being provided to it if it receives complaints or allegations about it. Enforcement can take the form of sanctions being imposed, often in the form of downgrading to the gradings on display or ultimately a form of an intervention or direct enforcement action and there have been an increasing number of regulatory downgrades in 2019 not to mention interventions and enforcement actions.
Great emphasis is placed on RPs having well balanced and constituted boards and teams working with them and the RSH emphasise a collaborative approach to dealing with any issues or problems facing RPs in this sector.
In the next article we will look at some of the reasons that RPs are being downgraded and even intervened in and provide some tips to RPs on how to better manage their gradings against the regulatory standards and objectives but, in the meantime, if you have questions regarding any aspect of social housing please email Paul.Russell@keebles.com or call Paul on 0114 252 1409.