Governance and Regulation
Around half of our properties are regulated by the Social Housing Regulator for England and are provided through our wholly owned, not for profit registered providers – Plexus and Omega Housing.
Our activities in this area are overseen by our Board which consists of executive and non-executive members. The Board is responsible for the overall strategic direction and governance of the company, including the determination of key policies and the monitoring of compliance with both policies and performance targets.
As a registered provider, we are obliged to demonstrate that we meet the following regulatory standards:
The consumer standards below apply to all RPs (Registered Providers).
Tenant involvement and empowerment standard
This requires RPs to:
- consult with tenants
- provide good customer service and service choices to tenants (including information about any additional costs relevant to specific choices)
- have in place a clear and accessible complaints procedure
- respond to the diverse needs of tenants.
Where a RP wishes to dispose of property to another landlord, it must:
- consult in a fair, timely, appropriate and effective manner
- set out its proposals clearly, giving sufficient detail
- set out actual or potential advantages and disadvantages in both the immediate and longer term
- be able to demonstrate that they have considered the outcome of the consultation when reaching a decision.
This requires RPs to achieve quality of accommodation as set in the Decent Home Guidance and to maintain this standard afterwards, including a good state of repairs and a planned maintenance. Under this standard, RPs must also co-operate with relevant organisations to provide an adaptations service that meets tenants' needs.
This requires RPs to:
- allocate their homes in a fair, transparent and efficient way, with clear application, decision-making and appeal processes in place
- enable mutual exchange of existing tenants and promote their access to opportunities by way of internet-based mutual exchange service
- provide services to support tenants to maintain their tenancies and to prevent unnecessary evictions
It also requires that when deciding the types of tenancies to grant, RPs consider:
- the purpose of the accommodation
- the needs of individual households
- the sustainability of the community
- the efficient use of housing stock.
All RPs must have a clear tenancy policy setting out the matters above, including any policy on granting discretionary succession rights. In framing their policy, RPs must have regard to the tenancy strategy of the local authority in which area they operate.
Under this standard, a PRPSH (Private Registered Provider of Social Housing) will only be able to grant a periodic assured tenancy or a fixed-term assured shorthold tenancy (this will cover 'starter tenancies').
Neighbourhood and community standard
This requires RPs to:
- consult with tenants in developing a policy for maintaining and improving their neighbourhoods
- co-operate with relevant partners to help promote social, environmental and economic wellbeing in their areas
- work in partnership with other public agencies to tackle anti-social behaviour.
The economic standards below only apply to PRPSHs (Private Registered Provider of Social Housing), i.e. not to local authorities.
Governance and financial viability standard
This requires that PRPSHs shall:
- ensure effective governance arrangements that deliver their aims, objectives and intended outcomes for tenants and potential tenants in an effective, transparent and accountable manner, and to manage their resources effectively to ensure their viability is maintained
- adhere to all relevant legislation
- comply with their governing documents and all regulatory requirements
- be accountable to tenants, the social housing regulator and relevant stakeholders
- safeguard taxpayers' interests and the reputation of the sector
- have an effective risk management and internal controls assurance framework
- manage their resources effectively to ensure viability.
Value for money standard
This requires PRPSHs to:
- clearly articulate their strategic objectives
- have an approach, agreed by their board to achieving value for money
- articulate a strategy for delivering homes that meet a range of needs
- optimise economy, efficiency and effectiveness.
PRPSHs must set out in public annual self-assessment reports how they are meeting their obligations and how they intend to meet them in the future.
This requires that PRPSHs shall charge rents in accordance with the objectives of the regulatory framework for social housing in England from April 2015. It applies only to social housing tenants with household income of less than £60,000 in the previous financial year.
The Rent Standard mandates that from April 2015, rents in PRPSH properties should, with limited exceptions, increase in each of the following ten years, by no more than CPI (consumer price index) plus 1 per cent. The figure permitted increase from April 2012 to March 2014 was RPI (retail price index) plus 0.5 per cent plus £2 a week.
Where a property is let on 'affordable rent' terms, the directions are slightly different. PRPSHs can set a rent (inclusive of service charges) at up to 80% of the full market rent at the start of a tenancy or when a new tenancy is signed. It can then be increased by CPI plus 1%.
Note that from March 2016 to April 2020, this standard is superseded by the requirement in the Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016 that social rents are cut by 1% per year. See PRPSH rents.