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Call for written evidence: Social Housing (Regulation) Bill [HL]

8 November 2022

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Do you have relevant expertise and experience or a special interest in the Social Housing (Regulation) Bill [HL], which is currently passing through Parliament?

If so, you can submit your views in writing to the House of Commons Public Bill Committee, which is going to consider this Bill.

The Public Bill Committee is now able to receive written evidence. The sooner you send in your submission, the more time the Committee will have to take it into consideration.

The Public Bill Committee will scrutinise the Bill line by line. The first sitting of the Public Bill Committee is expected to be on Tuesday 29 November and the Committee is scheduled to report by Tuesday 13 December. However, please note that when the Committee concludes its consideration of the Bill it is no longer able to receive written evidence and it can conclude earlier than the expected deadline of 5.00pm on Tuesday 13 December. You are strongly advised to submit your written evidence as soon as possible.

Aims of the Bill

The Bill as brought from the House of Lords on 31 October 2022 comprises 44 clauses and five schedules.

The majority of the Bill’s clauses amend Part 2 of the Housing and Regeneration Act (HRA) 2008 (as amended) which sets out the framework for the regulation of social housing in England.

The Bill provides the legal basis for many of the measures set out in the 2020 social housing white paper. The paper intended to deliver “transformational change” for social housing residents and fulfil the Government’s 2019 manifesto pledge, to empower residents, provide greater redress, better regulation and improve the quality of social housing.

With the Bill, the Government intends to strengthen the regulatory regime to change the behaviour of landlords of social housing to focus on the needs of their tenants. It also aims to ensure landlords are held to account for their performance.

The core objectives of the Bill are to:

Facilitate a new, proactive consumer regulation regime

Key provisions include:

  • making safety, transparency and energy efficiency part of the Social Housing Regulator’s fundamental objectives.
  • enabling the Regulator to set standards for the competence and conduct of staff working for registered providers of social housing.
  • requiring registered providers to nominate a designated person for health and safety issues.
  • giving the Secretary of State the power to introduce new requirements for registered providers relating to electrical safety checks.
  • a power for the Regulator to direct registered providers to collect and publish performance information.
  • regular inspections of registered providers.

Refine the existing economic regulatory regime

This would ensure providers are well governed and financially viable to protect homes and investment in new supply. Key provisions include:

  • ensuring the Regulator has a clear understanding of a registered provider’s corporate structure and any changes that could influence how it operates.
  • broadening the Regulator’s power to require people to provide documents or information for regulatory purposes.

Strengthen the Regulator’s powers to enforce the consumer and economic regimes

This would ensure the Regulator can effectively intervene when required. Key provisions include:

  • removing the ‘serious detriment’ test, which is a legislative barrier to the Regulator’s action on consumer issues.
  • giving the Regulator the power to require a registered provider to prepare and implement a performance improvement plan.
  • removing the cap on the level of fines the Regulator can issue.

The Bill also contains provisions to empower the Housing Ombudsman to issue a code of practice on complaint handling and monitor compliance with the code; and to formalise and strengthen the relationship between the Regulator and the Housing Ombudsman.

Territorial extent

Housing is an area of devolved legislative competence in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Bill primarily extends and applies to England and Wales (to the extent that social housing providers in England hold housing stock in Wales) – legislative consent is being sought from Senedd Cymru.

Follow the progress of the Social Housing (Regulation) Bill [HL]

The Social Housing (Regulation) Bill [HL] received its first reading in the House of Commons on 31 October 2022. Second reading was held on 7 November 2022.

There will be no oral evidence sessions.

Guidance on submitting written evidence

Deadline for written evidence submissions

The Public Bill Committee is now able to receive written evidence. The sooner you send in your submission, the more time the Committee will have to take it into consideration and possibly reflect it in an amendment. The order in which amendments are taken in Committee will be available in due course under Selection of Amendments on the Bill documents pages. Once the Committee has dealt with an amendment it will not revisit it.

The first sitting of the Public Bill Committee is expected to be on Tuesday 29 November and the Committee is scheduled to report by Tuesday 13 December. However, please note that when the Committee concludes its consideration of the Bill it is no longer able to receive written evidence and it can conclude earlier than the expected deadline of 5.00pm on Tuesday 13 December. You are strongly advised to submit your written evidence as soon as possible.

Your submission should be emailed to scrutiny@parliament.uk

Further guidance on submitting written evidence can be found here.

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