Sunday, February 26, 2023

Social housing bosses need formal qualifications? Yes but....

Today the Government has announced that it will change the law to make it compulsory for Social Housing Managers to hold formal qualifications in a similar way to social workers and teachers. The reasons given were "both Grenfell and the death of Awaab Ishak showed the "devastating consequences of residents inexcusably being let down by poor performing landlords who consistently failed to listen to them"

Personally, I would support this requirement. I am a London Councillor and work in social housing. I happen to have a post graduate diploma in Housing and I am a Practitioner member of the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIOH). I would also agree with the housing campaigner, Kwajo Tweneboa, that this should not be just senior managers but all housing officers should hold these qualifications.

But if it is right for Housing Associations and Council Housing managers, what about the huge Private Rental sector? A sector well known for problems regarding damp and fire safety. Would this requirement also apply to the private sector managers who maintain ministry of defence" properties plagued also by damp or those who provide often substandard homes for Asylum seekers.

Damp is often caused by overcrowding and/or fundamental design faults. I often see families of 5 or 6 living in a one bedroom flat with no adequate washing or drying facilities. Where is the money to build the new homes desperately needed to overcome overcrowding and rebuild defective housing?

It is going to cost a huge amount of money to really tackle fire safety, damp and mould. As well as making our housing stock green and low carbon. At a time of below inflation rent caps (welcome obviously to tenants) where is this money going to come from?

The simple truth of the matter is that many Housing Associations and Councils are already being forced to compromise on management standards in order to "sweat" their assets (cut costs) to find the funds to build more affordable housing due to grossly inadequate state provision. 

My final point for now is that since there is little meaningful, independant and democratic tenant representation, who will make sure that landlords will actually "listen" in the future?

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