Saturday, 01 August 2015

Sheltered housing services face tougher regulation

Work has begun on drawing up a new European standard for sheltered housing services to improve their transparency.

The European Committee for Standardization, which develops voluntary standards in different sectors, argues that the term sheltered housing is not clearly defined by law and lacks regulation in some countries. The organisation has set up a new project committee to oversee the work.

The new standard will aim to improve transparency by setting out the minimum services that sheltered housing residents should be entitled to. It will also cover how service performance is defined and measured. It is expected to be drawn up by 2011 and form the basis for voluntary accreditation.

UK standards body BSI British Standards has set up a committee to scrutinise the development of the standard. Its members include representatives from the sheltered housing consortium Erosh, the Communities and Local Government department, the Audit Commission and the Department of Health, alongside Hanover Housing Group, the Chartered Institute of Housing, the Centre for Sheltered Housing Studies and the Elderly Accommodation Counsel.

The recently-formed tenants’ lobby group Sheltered Housing UK, which was set up to fight the removal of wardens, will also be on the committee. Its chair Vernon Yarker said his organisation’s involvement was important to prevent the committee being biased towards housing providers.

He said: ‘We want to try to stop them coming out with a porous statement which can be interpreted in the way that the housing provider wishes, such as “sheltered housing may or may not have a warden”.’

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