2024 – the year of compliance?

By Paul O’Callaghan · 1 March 2024

ARK Assistant Director Paul O’Callaghan discusses the New RSH standards and how 2024 brings many new compliance requirements to the social housing sector.

So, the era of ‘co-regulation’ is coming to an end with the launch of a new regulatory framework for the social housing sector, but what does this mean for organisations, and how can they best prepare for what is arguably the most significant change to the operating environment since the advent of Welfare Reform?

What is changing?

The Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) launched their new standards this week, and these will take effect from April this year. What I have taken from the standards is that there is a much clearer emphasis on resident voice and engagement, the importance of good quality data, and keeping residents safe in their homes. The new powers granted through the Social Housing Regulation Act, mean that the RSH will return to an inspection regime, and there is also the removal of the cap on fines.

There is also a much clearer join between the role of the Regulator and the Housing Ombudsman in relation to complaints management. From April 2024, it will become statutory to complete and submit your self-assessment against the Complaints Handling Code to the Housing Ombudsman.

In 2022, we saw the launch of the Building Safety Act, and later this year, we are expecting to see the launch of a refreshed Decent Homes Standard for the sector. The Government are also in a period of consultation to introduce ‘Awaab’s Law’ which will set out timescales for landlords to investigate and remedy hazards. We also shouldn’t forget our technical compliance requirements around fire, gas, electrical, lifts, asbestos, water hygiene and of course, damp and mould.

And finally, there is the professionalism agenda, requiring managers in the sector to gain the equivalent of a Level 4 or 5 qualification in housing. It is estimated that this will apply to roughly 25,000 members of staff working within the sector.

What next?

It is clear that there is a lot of work to be done, and the new standards will help to drive improvements. The enhanced role of the RSH and the Housing Ombudsman is a welcome one, and how the relationships work between these bodies and organisations will be critical. My findings over the last year have shown the following key areas to address:

  • Organisations need to ensure they have compliant and up to date strategies, policies and procedures
  • Ensuring that systems and data are facilitating (not preventing) effective service delivery
  • Approaches to resident involvement are comprehensive and inclusive, or at least on a journey to become so
  • Organisations need to ensure that their workforce has the capacity to deliver services to the required standard, and that their culture facilitates this
  • Organisations can evidence actionable outcomes from resident engagement, including their TSM survey results.

It is important to remember that compliance with all of the new requirements does not represent the end game, and this is effectively the minimum standard which is expected, but by becoming compliant, and being able to evidence compliance, this will provide the platform to go further and develop best practice. Only this week, the Regulator stated that the sector has ‘a way to go’ in achieving compliance with the new standards – it is clear that it is time for organisations to prioritise compliance in 2024.

How can we help?

At ARK, we’re here to help prepare for regulation. We pride ourselves on supporting the sector across a range of projects, and have unrivalled experience and expertise across the entire sector. We offer support to carry out mock inspections, so that you are ready for regulation as well as support to complete self-assessments for the Housing Ombudsman based on evidence. We can also deliver bespoke service reviews if there is an area of your business which needs a specific focus.

For further enquiries or to discuss how we can support your organisation, please contact:

Paul O’Callaghan, Director – pocallaghan@arkconsultancy.co.uk


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