Posted by: Carl Brown04/05/2012
You can’t help but feel sorry for the social housing regulator.
After the upheaval caused by the rapid creation and closure of the Tenant Services Authority, staff now have to get used to yet another new system of regulation.
This includes a new focus on ‘economic’ regulation, with the regulator only intervening on tenant complaints in rare cases involving serious harm to tenants.
As Inside Housing reported this week, the regulator has already judged 19 cases to be suitable for assessing against its ‘serious detriment’ test, and found that none of them have met the criteria for intervention.
The regulator, while no longer nominally intervening in consumer regulation, still has to put resources in to assessing potential serious detriment cases. As Ralph Smale, an official at the regulator, said last week, this puts the Homes and Communities Agency in the ‘unfortunate position’ of having to devote resources to justify why it is not acting.
The temptation for the regulator, especially given cuts to its budget, is to devote more time and energy to its bread and butter activity of monitoring viability, governance and value for money and take its eye off the task of rigorously assessing claims for ‘serious detriment’ when the majority of the time they will not be required to investigate further.
This would be a mistake. The serious detriment test is a higher threshold for intervention – by definition it covers cases where tenants are potentially in danger of serious harm. HCA regulation head Matthew Bailes is absolutely correct to state the regulator has to make sure it identifies serious detriment cases.
Whether the regulator will have the resources to adequately monitor serious detriment claims and deal with them as they arise is yet to be seen.
From Housing matters
Carl Brown looks at regulation, training, board members, pay and a host of other issues that impact the day to day running of social landlords